I was pleased to be joined by Matt from Buffalo Rumblings, our Buffalo Bills affiliate, to preview Sunday's game. Matt talks about just how bad the Bills' run defense is, whether running back C.J. Spiller should be getting more playing time, the weather conditions expected for this Sunday's game, and more.
Chris: "Earlier this season, it seemed like Ryan Fitzpatrick was putting up huge points for the Bills. Besides a breakout against the Bengals though, Buffalo has been averaging about 14 points per game. Why has the Bills' offense fallen off a little?"
Matt: "The biggest reason is they've been playing tougher defenses. They were held in check by the Steelers and Vikings who both got great push from rushing just four defenders, especially the Vikings. Ryan Fitzpatrick was hounded all day by Jared Allen and company. Against the Steelers, the Bills held the ball for under ten minutes of the first half, and despite going deep into overtime, they held the ball for under thirty minutes."
Chris: "While Fred Jackson has played great again this season, are fans wishing that C.J. Spiller would receive more reps, or are they content with his limited role?"
Matt: "Content isn't the term they would use. Jackson is a fan favorite so you won't see any negativity directed towards him. His story is so blue-collar that no one would really give him any grief. Fans are wishing C.J. Spiller would do something. He was out for two weeks with a hamstring injury and his role in the offense hasn't materialized yet. Local media members are starting to call him a disappointing pick but he is having a big adjustment period as he figures out he can't make everyone miss and he needs to pass block."
Chris: "The Browns will no doubt try to pound Peyton Hillis on the ground this week. How has Buffalo done at defending running backs this year?"
Matt: "I think "not good" is too kind. They are giving up 25 yards per game more than the next closest team in the NFL. They are averaging over 170 yards rushing allowed per game. Peyton Hillis is going to slice and dice through this run defense. Dwan Edwards and three of our linebackers who have started a game this year are on injured reserve so it doesn't look like it's going to get any better."
Chris: "I was intrigued by how the Bills were able to keep the Steelers' offense in check a couple of weeks ago. Was that a case of Pittsburgh struggling, or the Bills' defense being at the top of their game?"
Matt: "Probably best to sum it up in a name: Kyle Williams. Williams had one of the three highest grades Pro Football Focus has ever given a DT that Sunday. He sacked Big Ben twice and broke his foot. He was in the backfield blowing up running plays. He just had an awesome game and created havoc. He should be a lock for the Pro Bowl but on a two-win team that is last in run defense it's kind of a hard sell. After Roethlisberger got hurt in the first half he wasn't really the same again."
Chris: "Is there expected to be a lot of snow for this week's game? It seems like it is either very cold or a whiteout any time these two teams meet."
Matt: "Buffalo has been getting pounded with lake effect snow for the better part of the last week and a half. Schools have been closed and major highways shut down for portions of that time, as well. As of now the weather forecast is for a wintry mix. Cleveland folks should know what that is but for clarity it's gonna be 34 degrees and rain/slush/ice/snow precipitation. Winds are going to be swirling too with 12-18 MPH predicted. Good weather for Peyton Hillis and Fred Jackson."
Once again, I'd like to thank Matt for taking the time to answer these questions.