by Mario Granata
In the first installment of Welcome to the Division: AFC East Hashtag Sports examined the new players who were going to be playing against the Buffalo Bills, who are now in the AFC East. Now will take a look at the NFC opponents that will battle Buffalo from the NFC East. There are some familiar names, and some names to look out for as the Bills make a push to make it to the playoffs in 2015.
LB Kiko Alonso – The Blockbuster trade that sent Alonso the Eagles for LeSean McCoy shocked many fans in the 716 due to the performance that Alonso put forth during his 2013 campaign. On the surface it is a seamless transition for Alosno, as he will once again be playing in a 3-4 defense, but as Bills fans noticed near the end of the 2013 season, Alosno had trouble getting off of blocks. With a 3-4 defense, the guards have free reign at the inside linebackers, so unless Alonso built some bulk in his time off, that theme might present itself once again in 2015. The last time that Kiko Alonso and Richie Incognito ‘met’ Alonso had his lowest tackle total (4) of the season. Look for Roman to pick on Alonso, running at him instead of away from him.
QB Sam Bradford – Bradford has only played the Bills once, posting a staggering 19-39 209 1-1 stat line, and even though the offense of the Eagles has been known to be explosive, he doesn’t pose that much of a threat to the Bills. He has a career record of 18-30-1 and the Bills have feasted on sub-par quarterbacks the past two seasons.
RB DeMarco Murray – After trading LeSean McCoy, Chip Kelly needed a high profile running back to shoulder the load. Maybe Kelly should read the stats more, as Murray was in contract year, and the Cowboys ‘ran him’ into the ground while he compiled 449 touches in 2014. Although the last time he faced the Bills in 2013 he posted 26 touches for 171 yards and a touchdown. With Bradford in doubt, they might look to do this again.
RB Ryan Mathews – Mathews has never posted a full 16-game season in his career, but when he was healthy in 2011 he tore up the Bills as well with 26 touches for 148 yards. Although those were different teams, confidence goes a long way in a player’s performance, and the Eagles might use this two-headed monster to slay the Bills in 2015.
RB Darren McFadden – Keeping with the theme of running backs that can’t seem to stay on the field, McFadden also has never started a full season during his NFL career. This past season however he rushed 9 times for 54 yards as the Bills couldn’t stop a nosebleed on that day. If he is healthy he will be a threat, but that is a big IF.
DE Greg Hardy – Hardy has had his off the field problems to deal with so what better team for him to go to than the Dallas Cowboys. America’s team is never known for their off the field problems, right? If the game happens to be later in the year, don’t expect Hardy to be on the field but if he is, expect him to post a modest 4 tackles and 0 sacks like he did in 2013 against the Bills.
LB Keith Rivers – Rivers was acquired by the Bills to be the player that everyone thought he was going to be when he was taken 9th overall in the NFL Draft. He hasn’t met expectations, so maybe being on his 4th team in 8 years will give him a boost. What’s the definition of insanity again?
DT Stephen Paea – We all remember that amazing combine performance from Paea when he posted 49 reps at 225, which roughly puts his one rep max at 600 pounds, and although it was surprising to see the Bears let him walk, he should be a force this season. He will move from a 4-3 in Chicago to a 3-4 in Washington, which will better suit his massive strength, so the Bills offensive line will have their hands full. What’s the over/under on how many times Eric Wood asks Paea “Do you even lift, bro?”
CB Chris Culliver – Coming over from San Francisco, Culliver did post an interception in 2012 against the Bills during that 45-3 thrashing, but Greg Roman was there as well. Hopefully the time that Roman has spent in practice with Culliver he will be the best to diagnose the weakness in Culliver’s game, and attack it.
CB Justin Rogers – Remember him, Bills Fans? Yeah, neither do we, lets move on.
New York Giants:
RB Shane Vereen – Vereen has had modest success against the Bills during his time in New England. Aside from his explosive performance in 2013, where he posted 21 touches for 159 yards, he came down to earth last year managing 5 yards on 7 carries. The Giants are hoping to have Vereen complement Rashad Jennings, and hopefully he will…from the bench.
LB Jonathan Casillas – Casillas will be on his 4th team in 6 years, but he is another New England castoff, and could be a problem for the Bills if he builds on his 9-tackle performance in the season finale last year, but will be use more in special packages mainly for the Giants.
The Bills posted a perfect 4-0 record against the NFC North last season and if they are able to sweep the NFC again in 2015, they will be on their way to the playoffs. There are some big name players that they will have to face, and some familiar faces, so if they can keep the momentum they had in Free Agency, they should be fun to watch.
Also check out Welcome to the Division: AFC East