Game Preview: Rushing duos take center stage

When the Bills and Panthers battle today, both offenses' rushing tandems will be difficult to stop...

The Buffalo Bills took a trip to the Twilight Zone last week.

Up was down, left was right and the Bills gave up 318 yards on the ground.

However, as brutally ugly as the game was, a win is a win. The Bills went to the Meadowlands and took advantage of rookie Mark Sanchez's five interceptions. They shut down the newly acquired Braylon Edwards. They went on the road and claimed victory over a divisional opponent.

And 2-4 is way better than 1-5.

Today, Buffalo travels south in an attempt to get closer to .500 when they play the Carolina Panthers.

Trent Edwards got rocked and has another concussion. Welcome to the party, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick stepped in after Edwards went down and calmly took command of the troops. The Bills said to hell with the no-huddle offense – through five games, it just wasn't happening.

Fitzpatrick looked through his progressions instead of checking down every play. He must continue that against Carolina, and must do it effectively – the Panthers are allowing just over 150 yards a game.

Lee Evans must get the ball. With T.O. pulling safeties over his way, Evans has been gift-wrapped single coverage. If Fitzpatrick can hit Evans for some big plays on a consistent basis, Evans could potentially have a Pro Bowl season. He has that much talent.

Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson are one of the best backfield duos in the league. Jackson brings the rain, Lynch brings the pain. This combo is averaging just over 120 yards per game, and that needs to continue. Buffalo has to be able to maintain ball control over the Panthers to limit Carolina's deadly rushing duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Both offenses are very similar.

Williams and Stewart liken Jackson and Lynch – one is silky smooth while the other is a bruiser. The Panthers are licking their chops for Buffalo's run defense, which is ranked dead last in the league.

As bad as Buffalo's run defense is, their pass defense has been superb. Lacking big-time players like Leodis McKelvin, Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott, Buffalo's depth at secondary has stepped in big time. Guys like Reggie Corner, Jairus Byrd and free-agent signee Drayton Florence have all contributed to shut down opposing aerial attacks.

Let's not forget special teams. John Wendling's overtime interception on a botched field goal by the Jets could not have come at a better time. Benching Roscoe Parrish may have been the best decision coach Bobby April has ever made – Fred Jackson is much hungrier and much more elusive.

If Buffalo can shut down Stewart and Williams and get the ball to Lee Evans deep, expect a win.

Buffalo 21, Carolina 13


Buffalo Football Report Top Stories