Cleat Geeks

Saints (6-2) @ Bills (5-3); Saints Making Super Bowl Like Statement

Week 9 of the 2017-2018 NFL season comes at a big time for some teams trying to either continue their playoff push or trying to start one. New Orleans and Buffalo come into this game with different journey roads to their playoff push. The New Orleans Saints (6-2) are on a 6-game win streak after starting off the season 0-2. The Saints are the 3rd team in the Super Bowl era to get to a 6-2 record after starting off 0-2. The other two teams to do so were the 1993 Dallas Cowboys and 2007 New York Giants, both of whom would end up winning the Super Bowl that year.

The Buffalo Bills (5-3) on the other hand are coming off an embarrassing 34-21 loss to the New York Jets (4-5). The Bills are still in the playoff talk and are currently 6th in the AFC playoff standings which would still grab an AFC wild-card spot but the loss makes the race more difficult. The Buffalo Bills have the current longest playoff drought in the NFL since 1999.

This match-up will feature two similar defenses that are the biggest surprises of each of the teams this season as well two completely styles of offense. The Saints offense will feature their two Running Back system highlighted by the high-power passing ability of QB Drew Brees. The Buffalo Bills will continue to utilize a run-first system by RB LeSean McCoy with multiple option utilization by a dual-threat system by QB Tyrod Taylor.

 

Saints have the big edge in Time Of Possession

This season, the Saints have been utilizing a run first and often play system led by RB Mark Ingram and rookie RB Alvin Kamara. The Saints Offensive Line has been highly successful in creating more yards by making efficient blocks on opposing Defensive Linemen and consistently moving up to the Linebackers to make for more yards. New Orleans has done a great job in not allowing too many negative plays whether they are tackles for loss or sacks. They are the best team in the NFL in terms of not allowing sacks in games with only 8 sacks allowed all season.

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Ingram and Kamara also have done a great job in pushing the drives for the Saints. New Orleans is ranked 7th in the league in rushing yards per game (122.8 yards). They will face a tough Buffalo Bills defense that is ranked 6th in points allowed per game (18.6 points) and 8th in rushing yards allowed per game (94.4 yards).

Last week, the New Orleans Saints held the ball for 32 minutes and 18 seconds of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6). In the Saints running game, they have averaged 4.7 yards per rush with Kamara accounting for 6 yards per rush himself. The Buffalo Bills only held the ball for 26 minutes and 30 seconds out of 60 minutes of the game. The long drives and multiple scores made the Bills defense falter over time. New Orleans can easily take a hold of this game and make the Bills defense give up big plays more frequently throughout the game.

 

Buffalo has a new #1 Receiver in former Carolina Panther Kelvin Benjamin

The Buffalo Bills are all-in on building a system around their Quarterback in Tyrod Taylor unless he gives them a reason why he isn’t the franchise QB. The Bills have trusted Taylor to be their more consistent passer on top of him running option type plays to press for the 1st down. One of the biggest things missing of this Bills offense is a dominant #1 Wide Receiver. They believe they have found one recently by acquiring WR Kelvin Benjamin from the Carolina Panthers by trading a 3rd round and a 7th round pick. Benjamin has always struggled in the 5 games against the New Orleans Saints. The highest amount of yards that Benjamin has ever accounted for against New Orleans was 86 yards and he only has caught one touchdown against the Saints as well.

New Orleans’ defense ranks 12th in the league in passing yards per game (211) thanks to the huge production from the Secondary and the rise of rookie CB Marshon Lattimore. Last week against the Buccaneers, Lattimore held Bucs WR Mike Evans to only 1 reception (out of 6 targets) for 13 yards. Lattimore has not only turned into one of the biggest rookies this season but also one of the best and most consistent Defensive Backs in the NFL. Lattimore will likely be covering Benjamin every play to make him a non-factor in the Bills passing game. Benjamin does have a height advantage when he will be facing Lattimore this Sunday. Expect a game from either one of these big-time players.

The Saints will need to watch out for dual-threat QB Tyrod Taylor

New Orleans’ biggest weakness is in the Linebacker Corp with LB Craig Robertson being the only reliable tackler when not blitzing. DE/OLB Alex Okafor is a great pressure maker but is used very often in blitz packages. For New Orleans, one of the biggest objectives of the game is not to stop the arm of Taylor but the feet. For Taylor being a dual-threat Quarterback, he can get the first down by passing and tiring out the defense with his legs. So far this season, Taylor has accounted for 4.2 yards per rush on 50 rushes.

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This can be a big game for the Saints Defensive Line for them to create pressure in the backfield, shut down RB LeSean McCoy, and make sure that Taylor does not run outside of the pocket without an assigned man chasing him down. If Tyrod Taylor creates first downs with his feet, it will create chaos for the Saints and will give the Saints defense some fatigue. The Buffalo Bills are tied for 6th for the most allowed sacks so far this season with 26. If New Orleans can set the edge on key pass plays then they will have to force Taylor to make plays with his arm. The whole gameplan is to make Taylor pass the ball, maybe even not blitz so often as New Orleans usually like to do.

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