Buf­falo to face off against New Or­leans

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By JohnWawrow,

The Bills are prep­ping for a po­tent Saints of­fense lead by the ageless Drew Brees.

ORCHARDPARK, N.Y. » Don’t bother asking Sean McDer­mott if he’s glanced where the Bills are in the stand­ings after match­ing their best first-half record in 17 years.

Buf­falo’s rookie coach shook his head, no, be­fore say­ing he’s far too con­sumed with pre­par­ing to host the NFC South-lead­ing Saints on Sun­day. New Or­leans has an of­fense that gaveMcDer­mott fits dur­ing his pre­vi­ous six years as Carolina’s de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

“Drew Brees, Sean Pay­ton,” he said, re­fer­ring to the Saints quar­ter­back and coach, while rolling his eyes. “How’s your week look?” in sug­gest­ing his is filled.

New Or­leans (6-2) has won six straight and fea­tures an of­fense that ranks sec­ond in the NFL in yards gained.

Buf­falo (5-3) has been one of the league’s mid­sea­son sur­prises in over­com­ing a ma­jor off­sea­son over­haul.

The Bills, how­ever, re­main a work in progress, par­tic­u­larly on de­fense, where they fea­ture six new starters from last year and are com­ing off a sloppy 34-21 loss at the New York Jets on Nov. 2. McDer­mott’s fo­cus is solely on the Saints, a team he faced twice a sea­son and en­joyed a 7-5 record against while with the divi­sion ri­val Panthers.The chal­lenge in prep­ping a non-con­fer­ence op­po­nent such as Buf­falo is get­ting his play­ers to ap­pre­ci­ate how dy­namic the Saints are un­der Brees.

“See­ing it on TV is one thing, see­ing it live is an­other,” McDer­mott said. “One of the hard­est parts to get peo­ple to un­der­stand, es­pe­cially your first time go­ing against this type of of­fense, is what it takes to have any type of suc­cess against it.” Buf­falo Bills head coach Sean McDer­mott talks to his team prior to an NFL football game against the Oak­land Raiders in Or­chard Park, N.J.

Brees has been ef­fi­cient in com­plet­ing nearly 72 per­cent of his passes with 13 touch­downs with four in­ter­cep­tions, while be­ing sacked a league-low eight times. The Saints also fea­ture a pro­duc­tive duo at run­ning back. Vet­eran Mark In­gram and rookie Alvin Ka­mara have com­bined for 852 yards rush­ing and seven touch­downs, and an­other 533 yards re­ceiv­ing and two touch­downs by Ka­mara.

If it’s any con­so­la­tion to McDer­mott, Pay­ton joked he was happy to see the Panthers co­or­di­na­tor leave the divi­sion upon be­ing hired by the Bills in Jan­uary.

“Once ev­ery four years is bet­ter than (fac­ing him) twice ev­ery year,” Pay­ton said. “He’s done a fan­tas­tic job as a de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, and now you can see his im­print on this team very quickly.”

Some things to watch out for Sun­day:

PREACHING PA­TIENCE: Bills line­backer Lorenzo Alexan­der says the de­fense can’t hit the panic but­ton against the Saints as hap­pened against the Jets. Missed tack­les led to Buf­falo sur­ren­der­ing a sea­son-high 194 yards rush­ing against New York.

“Hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced that, we just want to make sure no­body pan- ics and we don’t lose our conf idence,” Alexan­der said. “They’re a good team, un­der­stand that, but let’s go back there and hit them in the mouth and get some­thing go­ing for us and not dwell on that last drive.”

SHUF­FLED LINE: The Saints’ of­fen­sive line has been in constant f lux be­cause of in­juries to left tackle Ter­ron Arm­stead, right tackle Zach Strief, and right guard Larry War­ford. Rookie Ryan Ram­czyk has had to start at both tackle spots. An­drus Peat has moved back and forth be­tween left guard and left tackle. Se­nio Kelemete has had to play left and right guard.

Cen­ter Max Unger has been the sta­bi­liz­ing force, play­ing all eight games since hav­ing off­sea­son foot surgery.

“We’ve had a tough run,” Unger said. “It is kind of a tes­ta­ment to the depth that we have and the depth we have been able to build here, and have guys come in and play out of po­si­tion and not re­ally have a drop in pro­duc­tion.”

BIG BEN­JAMIN: Re­ceiver Kelvin Ben­jamin is set to make his Bills de­but af ter be­ing ac­quired in a trade with Carolina on Oct. 31. He has 17 catches for 192 yards and touch­down in five ca­reer games against New Or­leans, in­clud­ing two catches for 8 yards in Septem­ber be­fore leav­ing with a left knee in­jury.

At 6-foot- 5, Ben­jamin presents a matchup prob­lem, some­thing quar­ter­back Ty­rod Tay­lor hopes to ex­ploit.

“If you look at the plays he’s made over his ca­reer, he’s definitely made a bunch of con­tested throws,” Tay­lor said. “Just give him a chance, his ball or no­body’s.”

TAKE­AWAYS: The Bills’ 17 take­aways ( 11 in­ter­cep­tions, six fum­bles) rank sec­ond in the league, though they turned the ball over a sea­son-high three times against the Jets.

The Saints have 12 take­aways (nine in­ter­cep­tions, three fum­bles). New Or­leans, how­ever has com­mit­ted nine turnovers, all com­ing in its last four games.

MISHANDLED PUNTS: Saints re­ceiver Ted Ginn Jr. has mishandled a cou­ple punts re­cently, though he was for­tu­nate not to turn any over. Last week, Pay­ton re­placed Ginn with re­ceiver Wil­lie Snead, who pro­ceeded to muff a fair catch.

An­other switch might be in the works.

“We have to be able to catch that ball 100 per­cent of the time, and we will find some­one that can,” Pay­ton said.


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