Week 5 Preview: Bills at Cardinals

The Cardinals return home this week on a two-game losing streak and are in desperate need of a win over the Buffalo Bills. Victories will be at a premium as Arizona's next three opponents currently have a combined record of 10-2. Brad Wilbricht previews this week's matchup with Buffalo and breaks down the Bills roster.

While the Buffalo Bills are 4-0 and one of the early surprises in the NFL, their level of competition has been suspect. The Bills' last two victories came against the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams, both who are winless on the season. Buffalo's other two wins came against an injury riddled Jacksonville Jaguars team and the Seattle Seahawks who made the cross-country trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium in Week 1.

The Bills' offense is led by the dynamic duo of second-year players QB Trent Edwards and RB Marshawn Lynch. Edwards was named the full-time starter in Week 13 of last season and has rapidly improved from that point on. On the season, he's thrown for 930 yards and four touchdowns. Furthermore, Edwards is completing 65 percent of his passes and has a QB rating of 93.5.

Despite the loss of pass rushing specialist Bertrand Berry, the Cardinals must get pressure on Edwards. The Bills' offensive line has proved to be vulnerable giving up 11 sacks in the teams first four games. Following a dismal performance in New York, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast will likely throw the book at a young quarterback like Edwards playing on the road.

In 2007, Lynch was the first Buffalo rookie to rush for over 1,000 yards since 1984. While he's been slowed during early season action, he's still managed 275 yards on the ground to go along with four touchdown runs. In addition to his running skills, Lynch is an outstanding receiver with dependable hands. Lynch is joined in the Bills' backfield by RB Fred Jackson. Jackson is a versatile weapon that is mainly utilized in short yardage and passing situations.


WR Lee Evans
(Getty)

WR Lee Evans has supplied the Bills' offense with an explosive playmaker on the perimeter. He is currently ranked second in the NFL averaging a remarkable 23.7 yards per catch and has racked up 332 yards receiving. While Evans is Buffalo's main deep threat, WR Josh Reed is a dependable possession receiver. Reed has already reeled in 17 passes for 192 yards this year. Similar to the Cardinals' tandem of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, Evans and Reed compliment each others abilities.

In addition to Lynch and the wide receivers, Buffalo heavily involves TE Robert Royal in the passing game. Royal has caught 11 balls for 94 yards and one touchdown on the season. The Cardinals' secondary struggled to cover anyone last week against the New York Jets and was torched by QB Brett Favre for six touchdown passes. Starting cornerbacks Eric Green and Rod Hood will look to rebound this week back at the friendly confines of University of Phoenix Stadium.

On defense, the Bills are led by linebackers Donte Whitner and Paul Posluszny. Posluszny leads the team with 26 tackles while Whitner has made 21 stops. The Bills' defense has been stout thus far, allowing only 281 yards per game. They've been especially stingy on third downs, as their opponents are converting just 19.2 percent of the time.

In the trenches, DT Marcus Stroud anchors Buffalo's defensive line. Since coming over from Jacksonville this offseason, Stroud has been a disruptive force. On the season, he already has two sacks, two tackles for a loss and four pass deflections. Joining Stroud in the middle is DT Kyle Williams with defensive ends Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel on the outside.

Up to this point, the strength of the Bills' defense has been their secondary. They're currently ranked sixth in the NFL giving up only 169 yards per game through the air. With Boldin unlikely to play, Steve Breaston and Jerheme Urban must step-up opposite of Fitzgerald. Buffalo will likely double team Fitzgerald, giving Breaston and Urban ample opportunities to make plays downfield.


Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com

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