AFC East Update: Too Little Defense For Bills

The Buffalo Bills are winning games, but is there defense going to let them down when it comes crunch time?

Another day of too little defense for Bills

It's amazing how a team's fortunes can change on one Sunday afternoon. The Bills were flying high after winning their first three games, two in thrilling come-from-behind fashion. And then they went into Cincinnati and laid an egg against a team that was 1-2 and struggling with a rookie quarterback at the helm.

   Now, following their 23-20 loss, the Bills have to regroup with an angry Philadelphia team coming to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Eagles fell to 1-3 with an inexplicable 24-23 home loss to San Francisco, and it seems highly improbable that Philadelphia - a trendy Super Bowl pick after an offseason of big-name free agent moves - could fall to 1-4.

   And with a schedule that includes a trip to New York to play the Giants on Oct. 16, a neutral site game in Toronto against Washington on Oct. 30, a home date with the Jets on Nov. 6, and then three straight road games at Dallas, Miami and the Jets, losing to the Bengals - in a game where they led by 14 at the half - could prove damaging.

   The Bills were hoping to get improved play from their defense, but in the last three games it has looked awfully familiar to 2010 when the Bills were one of the worst defenses in the NFL, and by far the worst run defense.

   They have allowed 454, 495 and 458 yards of total offense to the Raiders, Patriots and Bengals, respectively. Those teams have combined for 81 first downs and 89 points in those games. And next up are the Eagles with dynamic weapons such as Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson.

   "We have to be more physical up front, and there's no question that we will," said linebacker Shawne Merriman. "Yeah, absolutely there's no question in my mind that we'll come back next week and be ready to play. We're obviously disappointed and fired up to get those things corrected next week."

   The Bills have been getting turnovers - they now have 11 takeaways including nine interceptions, two of which have been returned for touchdowns - but they are giving up yardage in big chunks.

   "I expect, with the character that's been displayed prior to this, that our guys will come out and work and try to get better in practice each week," said coach Chan Gailey. "I would be shocked if anything different happens. You've got to play better. It's not just practice, but you've got to play better. You've got to execute in the games."

   LINEUP WATCH: Left tackle Demetrius Bell had to leave the Bengals game midway through the fourth quarter with an apparent shoulder injury and he could not return. Rookie fourth-round pick Chris Hairston out of Clemson took his place, and he might have to start this week against Philadelphia if Bell isn't ready to go which could be a major problem against a pass rusher like Trent Cole.

   BY THE NUMBERS: Buffalo's loss to the Bengals snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Bills against Cincinnati which tied a team-record for longest streak against one team. The Bengals hadn't beaten the Bills since January 1989 in the AFC Championship Game.

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