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Buffalo Looks to Get Offense Going in Week 2 Against Green Bay

The Bills broke in a new season and new head coach in Chan Gailey last Sunday, but opening day the offensive problems that have plagued Buffalo remained the same.  

Buffalo managed just 166 yards of total offense in an ugly 15-10 loss against the Miami Dolphins.  Now the Bills will invade Lambeau Field searching for signs of life on offense and their first victory of the season against the Green Bay Packers.

By all accounts, Buffalo produced an all too familiar miserable offensive outing last weekend.  The Bills’ 166 yards of total offense was the fewest produced by any team in Week 1.  Buffalo managed only nine first downs all afternoon and until a late completion near the end of the first half, at one point the Bills had just two net yards passing. 

The supposed backbone of the offense, the running game, never materialized.  The Bills’ rushing trio of Fred Jackson, Marshawn Lynch and C.J. Spiller combined for just 38 yards rushing.  Spiller had a particularly rude welcoming in his career NFL action.  After a good looking preseason handling the rushing duties with both Jackson and Lynch sidelined with injuries, Spiller was held to just six yards on seven carries.

The Green Bay Packers got their 2010 season off on the right foot with a big road win at Philadelphia despite losing running back Ryan Grant and a below average outing from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers threw for only 188 yards, was intercepted twice and sacked three times.  And yet, the Packers still managed to come out of opening day victorious.  Like an Oreo cookie, for Green Bay all the good stuff was in the middle.  The Packers pounded the Eagles in the second and third quarters, outscoring the birds 27-7. 

In their home opener against the Bills, the Packers will begin the healing process and life without Grant, who suffered an injury in last week’s win.  Grant finished with 8 carries for 45 yards, but now he’ll be lost for the remainder of the season with a torn ligament in his ankle.  Now Green Bay must rely on backups Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn to fill the void left by Grant, a void that won’t be easily filled considering Grant has been the Packers’ leading rusher in three consecutive seasons.

As Grant’s absence leaves a large void in Green Bay’s offense, Buffalo will also be dealing with linebacker Paul Posluszny’s vacany.  Posluszny suffered a knee injury last weekend against Miami, an injury that could force the Bills’ middle linebacker out of action for up to three weeks.  Keith Ellison is expected to step replace Posluszny, while the Bills will also have  a pair of linebackers, Reggie Torbor and Antonio Coleman, expected to make their season debuts.  Akin Ayodele is also expected to play and second-year safety Jairus Byrd will make his first start on Sunday.

Keys for Buffalo

Get the running game going.  We witnessed last week, as we have in year’s prior, that Trent Edwards isn’t going to win games by himself for the Bills.  Buffalo has to find some balance and success running the ball between their three backs.  Third downs are the enemy for Buffalo and on the road in one of the toughest venues in the NFL, the Bills can’t expect to win spending the afternoon going three and out.  This team is not built to engage Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers in a run-and-gun shootout.  The more time Rodgers spends on the sidelines, the better off the Bills will be.

Get bodies on LB Clay Matthews, Jr.  He was a flat out menace against the Eagles with seven tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and knocking Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb out of the game.  The Philadelphia offensive line isn’t in as bad of shape as the Bills and they had zero answers for Matthews.  Imagine what he’ll do against Cornell Green.  If he’s not blocked and picked up consistently, it could be another ugly day for Trent Edwards.

Convert Third Downs.  The Bills converted only 3-of-14 third down attempts last Sunday and still managed to hang around and have a shot at the win.  That recipie isn’t likely to duplicate itself again this week.  The Packers offense is simply too good to expect the Bills defense to put their game on their shoulders.  The name of the game is moving the chains.   Gailey and Edwards must find ways to sustain drives.

Keys for Green Bay

Avoid the Let Down.   That was a huge win for the Packers last weekend.  On the road to start a season is always difficult, and to win in Philadelphia is extremely difficult not to mention the subpar day from Rodgers. This is a game the Packers should win and the rest of country expects them to win. They’ll have to go out in front of their home crowd and put together a winnning 60-minute effort.

Replacing Ryan Grant.  Life officially begins without Grant for the Packers.  I expect to see Aaron Rodgers shoulder more of the offensive workload, but that doesn’t mean Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn can play spectators.  Buffalo has a very deep and underrated secondary and the Packers will need some semblance of a rushing attack to keep the Bills honest.

Use Jermichael Finley and Attack the Linebackers.   The Bills will be missing middle linebacker Paul Posluszny and he’ll be replaced by Keith Ellison.  The linebacking core remains largely inexperienced and banged up for Buffalo.  Green Bay has a gigantic mismatch with tight end Jermichael Finley.  He’s big, fast and physical and the Bills simply do not have a linebacker on the roster to match up with Finley in coverage.

Prediction:  Green Bay 27, Buffalo 10.   This has the scent of blowout written all over it.  The Bills offense cannot keep up with Green Bay’s offense.  The Packers have big advantages over the Bills at quarterback, tight end, and linebacker.  I’m not sure who covers Jermichael Finley or who blocks Clay Matthews, Jr.  The Packers are clearly the better team.  In their home opener and in front of the cheeseheads, Green Bay avoids a possible letdown and cruises to victory.

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