San Diego will bring the league's highest scoring offense to Buffalo, which should help determine just how improved this Bills defense really is. Another litmus test for the Bills will be facing off against record-breaking extraordinaire LaDainain Tomlinson, who should give their run defense – ranked No. 26 – all it can handle.
"Their linebackers are the strength of their team," Tomlinson said. "They have some young guys in the secondary that play hard. They don't do much as far as blitzing. They play solid defense and try and make you make a mistake."
The Bills defense is ranked No. 21 overall, but has been playing better as of late. Part of that is because players are adjusting to a new scheme which relies more on quickness and penetration than lane clogging and blitzing.
Buffalo will look to create pressure with just its front-four, relying on Aaron Schobel to bring heat of the edge and Larry Tripplett to collapse the pocket. Their trio of linebackers – Takeo Spikes, London Fletcher and Angelo Crowell – is as good as any in the league. In the secondary, rookie safeties Donte Whitner and Ko Simpson play between two cornerbacks with Pro Bowl experience, Nate Clements and Terrence McGee.
The bottom line: the Bills defense will fly to the ball, wrap up ball-carriers, and give the Chargers plenty of grief on Sunday.
"They can really run," Philip Rivers said. "They remind me of the Colts defense. They bank on their guys running to the ball and they do a good job of it."
This game is more important to the Chargers than it may seem at first glance. After playing the 5-6 Bills, the Bolts' next three opponents are the Broncos, Chiefs and Seahawks, three teams with a combined record of 21-12. San Diego needs to win now so that those contests do not become must-win affairs.
The key this weekend will be staying patient. The Chargers need to come out, execute early, and take advantage of what the defense gives them. They cannot afford to fall behind early again, as the ball-hawking Bills defense will make it nearly impossible for Rivers to pass his team out of a big hole.
"We have had three games in a row where we have gotten off to a slow start. That will be an emphasis for us. We don't need to get these guys jumpstarted at home and give them momentum," Rivers said.
A quick start by San Diego would also take the Buffalo fans out of the game. That would help, because that stellar Bills defense will be there all game long.