Editor’s Note: Brad Andrews, editor of BuffaLowDown, stops by to answer some questions about tomorrow’s must-win matchup for the Eagles. Here’s what he had to say.
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been around the league for a few years now, but hadn’t emerged until this season. What’s been the biggest difference in Fitzpatrick’s game?
Confidence. That means both Fitz’s confidence in his own abilities and the team’s confidence in him. Fitz has never really had a shot to be “the man” before, always coming in when the season was already shot. Also, another big difference is that the offensive line has protected Fitzpatrick very well so far. Fitz tends to really struggle against
strong pressure, so keeping defenders out of his face has been key.
2. The Bills had a terrific win against the Patriots two weeks ago, but experienced a letdown last week in Cincinnati. I assume nobody had the Bills at 3-1 through the season’s first quarter, but what’s the feel in upstate
New York about this team? Is this team for real, or will they fade?
I think the Bills are for real. This is a flawed team, no doubt, but there’s enough talent here to hang with anyone in the NFL. However, if the team fades down the stretch, it wouldn’t be a shock. There’s very little depth on this roster, and as people start to get banged up the team really might start to struggle in the second half of the year.
3. What are the Bills’ strengths, both offensively and defensively?
Offensively, the Bills have excellent chemistry and a very good playcaller in Chan Gailey. Also, RB Fred Jackson is truly one of the league’s most underappreciated players. He’s outstanding in every phase of the game, including pass protection. Defensively, the Bills have some nice pieces on the defensive line (NT Kyle Williams and rookie DE Marcell Dareus, especially) and a trio of playmakers at safety with Bryan Scott, George Wilson, and Jairus Byrd. I can’t lie
though…I’m stretching to find strengths on defense. The D hasn’t been good lately.
4. Jason Babin has had a tremendous start to the season. He’ll be without fellow lineman Trent Cole in this game, but can rookie offensive tackle Chris Hairston keep Babin from getting to Ryan Fitzpatrick?
That’s the million-dollar question for this game. Hairston looked really rough this preseason, but he has looked good in the regular season. Of course, he hasn’t faced anyone like Babin. I honestly don’t know if Hairston will hold up. Look for the Bills to protect Hairston by utilizing Fred Jackson – both by running the ball a lot and by keeping Jackson in to pass protect frequently.
5. Break down this game and give a prediction. Are the Bills about to come back to earth, or are they about to stake their claim as a legitimate AFC contender?
The Eagles have more elite talent, no question. And usually I’m a big believer in the idea that the more talented team wins. However, I’m not so sure that the Eagles aren’t a complete mess right now. If Philadelphia doesn’t do a better job of game planning on defense, Chan Gailey will come up with a way to tear them apart. I think it will be close, but the Eagles will drop another heartbreaker 27-24. However, a 30-point blowout for either team wouldn’t shock me. Philly is just so talented that it’s certainly possible the team puts it all together this week and dominates.