Game Preview: Bills at Seahawks

The Buffalo Bills head into the Hawks Nest to face the injury depleted Seahawks this Sunday.

What: AFC/NFC clash
When: Sunday, November 28th, 1:05 pm (PST)
Where: Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington




Bills Key Players:

QB Drew Bledsoe: The former WSU star has been night and day this season at home and on the road. At home, Bledsoe has been lights out, leading the Bills to a 4-2 record by completing 58.7% of his passes for 1,062 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He has also made quicker decisions only being sacked five times.. Problem is, he has been the exact opposite on the road, completing just 52.3% of his passes for 674 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions while being sacked 21 times. Fans have grown weary of Bledsoe's poor play and have started calling for rookie backup QB J.P. Losman to start the final six games and it is highly unlikely that Bledsoe sticks around following the season.

RB Willis McGahee: When the season started, McGahee was the backup to starting RB Travis Henry. When Henry was injured in week five, McGahee came on and has not relinquished his spot to the now healthy Henry. McGahee leads the Bills with 610 yards on the ground and has the team's three rushing touchdowns. He has regained his speed and quickness following a devastating knee injury in January of 2003 and he runs through tacklers, usually gaining several yards after first contact.

WR Eric Moulds: Moulds is far-and-away the go-to receiver on this team. He leads the team with 55 receptions (the next closest receiver has 19) for 679 yards and four touchdowns. He has the speed to get deep, but also the strength to outmuscle cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage. He is also a solid downfield blocker and he is one of the few game-breaking threats on the sputtering Bills offense.

MLB London Fletcher: Fletcher is playing at a Pro Bowl level this season. He leads the team with 99 tackles and he has a nose for the ball. He is also one of the most durable players in the league, not missing a game due to injury in his six-year career. He has excellent diagnosis skills and while he is more quick than fast, he makes plays all over the field.

S Lawyer Milloy: The former UW standout missed the first five games of the season with a broken forearm but in the last five games he has flashed his Pro Bowl talent in the secondary. In a week 10 loss to New England he recorded an amazing 15 tackles and has made his presence felt in the locker room as well as the field.



Key Matchups:

Bills Ts Jonas Jennings and Mike Williams vs. Seahawks DEs Grant Wistrom and Chike Okeafor: Wistrom immediately paid dividends early in the season with his inspired play and big-time motor, spurring teammates to not take plays off and to hustle until the whistle blows. When he went down with a knee injury the pass-rush suffered. Last week against Miami, Wistrom's first action in five weeks, he was at it again. Wistrom didn't record a sack but registered six tackles and inspired the defense on to four sacks and consistent pressure on the Dolphins QBs. Williams and Jennings make up one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and with an immobile QB under center it could be a long day if Wistrom and Okeafor can get some pressure of the edges.

Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander vs. Fletcher: As stated above, Fletcher is having a very good season. Being flanked by Takeo Spikes and Jeff Posey doesn't hurt, but Fletcher is a playmaker and a tackling machine. Alexander leads the entire NFL in rushing with 1,151 yards and is tied for second with 10 TDs. If Alexander can get off to a good start the Hawk offense will be able to use play-action more and take advantage of the Bills' aggressive linebackers.

Seahawks WRs vs. Bills DBs: Now that the fate of WR Koren Robinson is finally known (out four weeks on a suspension), 42 year-old Jerry Rice will step into the starting lineup in the base two-receiver set. Rice had a breakout game in place of Robinson last week versus the Dolphins as Robinson sat out the game for violating team rules. On the day Rice caught three passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. WR Darrell Jackson took a backseat to Rice last week catching only three passes for 37 yards, but he was double-teamed most of the day with some creative coverages by the Dolphins. CBs Nate Clements and Terrence McGee will be expected to take away QB Matt Hasselbeck's top two options and make him look to TEs Itula Mili and Jeremy Stephens and third wideout Bobby Engram to make plays in order to move the ball.

Seahawks coverage units vs. Bills return units: The Bills special teams have two of the most explosive returners in the NFL in Clements and McGee. McGee leads the AFC in kickoff returns, averaging 25.9 per return. He also has two touchdowns. Clements ranks third in the NFL on punts, averaging 12.8 yards per return and had an 86 yard return for a touchdown last week against St. Louis. The Hawks have struggled all season with their coverage units ranking 22nd on kickoffs and 12th on punt returns. The Seahawks must keep the Bills special teams from getting their struggling offense good field position and no freebie touchdowns against these units. New P Ken Walter, signed on Wednesday to a contract will be under pressure to get good hang time and not allow Clements or rookie Jonathan Smith to get significant yardage on their returns.



News and Notes: Buffalo is 2-0 vs. the NFC West this season beating Arizona and St. Louis, both at home; McGahee has at least 100 yards rushing in 4 of first 5 career starts; Hasselbeck has 59 career TD passes & needs one more to become the third Seahawk with 60 (Dave Kreig 195; Jim Zorn 107); Alexander's four-yard TD run last week versus Miami was the 56th of his career and ranks him number one in team history in rushing TDs ahead of Curt Warner's 55; Hawks lead the NFC with 14 INTs and are tied for 2nd-most in NFL; Seattle leads the series with the Bills 6-3.



Injuries:

Bills:
QUESTIONABLE: WR Josh Reed (knee)
DOUBTFUL: CB Troy Vincent (knee)


Seahawks: PROBABLE: WR Darrell Jackson (ankle); DT Rashad Moore (shoulder); DE Chike Okeafor (ankle); CB Bobby Taylor (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Matt Hasselbeck (thigh)
OUT: LB Chad Brown (knee); LB Tracy White (hamstring)




Prediction: Seahawks 20 – Buffalo 17

.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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