by Mario "Game" Granata
With the general consensus around Buffalo, after the showing that the Bills put in against the Broncos, being that the Green Bay Packers are going to come to One Bills Drive, and roll over the Bills, maybe there is a glimmer of home against the 2nd leg of Hall of Fame quarterbacks that Buffalo has to face in the final weeks of the season. The Packers are one, if not the, hottest teams in the NFL, clicking on all cylinders during the “4th quarter” of the season, but maybe, just maybe the Bills have a shot with the way that their defense has been playing. Here are some things to look for this Sunday.
Schwartz and the AFC East – When Jim Schwartz was the Head Coach in Detroit, he faced an Aaron Rodgers led Packers team and only managed a 1-7 record against Mr. Discount Double Check. And the only victory that he managed was back in December of 2010, when the Lions gave Rodgers a concussion. So the plan is simple: knock Rodgers out of the game. However, short of that happening, its crucial to look at the way that the Packers have performed against the rest of the AFC East, where the Bills are very familiar. The Packers have managed to sweep the rest of the AFC East, however they beat the Jets 31-24, and save a New York Jet timeout, that game might have went to overtime. They then beat the Miami Dolphins 27-24 on a “fake spike” where Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson on a back shoulder throw (probably the best tandem that hits that throw in the game today). Then, in a match-up that was built as a Super Bowl preview, the Packers defeated the Patriots 26-21 at home. So that is 3 division opponents beat by the ‘mighty’ Packers by a total of 15 points. The Bills have swept the Jets, split with the Dolphins (blowing them out at home) and still have a stay of execution against the Patriots. So, if you are scoring at home, maybe, just maybe the Bills have a chance against Green Bay.
Run the Rock – The Bills were 2nd in the NFL in rushing last year, and early in the 2014 season the Packers were not very good against the run, following the loss of BJ Raji. In the games following the “R-E-L-A-X” comments from Rodgers, the Packers have made teams one-dimensional by scoring early and scoring fast. The Packers are #1 in the league in first half scoring 21.2 points per game, forcing teams to throw the ball to get back the lead. If the Buffalo defense can keep the game close, and allow their running game to have some significance in the final outcome, the Bills might be able to pull out the upset. Note to Hackett: run the ball early and often.
No Place Like Home – While Aaron Rodgers has seemed like a deity at home this season (23 touchdowns to 0 interceptions) he holds a 3-3 record on the road, and is averaging nearly 50 yards less a game on the road. His overall QBR is 30 points less on the road where he has managed 12 touchdowns and his 3 interceptions as well. So, if the Bills can take advantage of the fact that the Packers aren’t as “effective” on the road as they are at home, they can keep the game close and have a shot in the end. Add in the fact that the Packers are averaging 4 penalties a game at home, and 7 on the road (which would put them on par with the Bills) maybe there can be some calls that go the Bills way on big Green Bay plays.
The Bills for a second straight week face a daunting task in trying to stop one of the top quarterbacks in the league, but with some of the stats calculated in, and the fact that the Bills defense has come off an impressive showing, ending the 51-touchdown streak by Peyton Manning, this gives something to the fans of Buffalo that they haven’t had in a while: hope.