Week 6 at Buffalo Bills
Sunday, October 16 at 1 p.m. ET
The Buffalo Bills are going to be an intriguing team this year — a sort of “Jekyll and Hyde” group capable of either making the postseason or finishing below .500 altogether.
Defensive end Shaq Lawson (shoulder) is out indefinitely as is No. 1 wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot), although Watkins’ recovery has been going well, according to recent reports.
Statistically, the Bills offense and defense ranked in the middle of the pack year ago and, according to Pro Football Focus, Buffalo has question marks in its pass rush and offensive line. Here’s what PFF had to say about the Bills’ front seven:
"There’s no doubt that this should be a solid unit, but can it be an explosive one? Senior Analyst Ben Stockwell noted that, “In their first year under Rex Ryan, the Bills’ biggest defensive failing was a complete and utter lack of pass-rushing support for Jerry Hughes.” Now that was a big reason why they went out and drafted Shaq Lawson – one of the premier pass rushers in all of college football last season – with their first-round pick but he’s going to miss time in the beginning of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery."
Similarly, the Bills offense — and quarterback Tyrod Taylor — could be exploited by problems along the right side of the offensive line, which should play right into the hands of San Francisco’s young pass-rushers.
Why the 49ers Win
The defense gets to Taylor and negates any impact from Watkins. Equally important will be stopping running backs LeSean McCoy — who will be eager to prove his mettle versus his former Philadelphia Eagles head coach, Chip Kelly — and second-year pro Karlos Williams.
Buffalo’s run defense is pretty good, but the lack of a pass rush could actually open up things for San Francisco’s passing game.
Hopefully by this point, a handful of the 49ers receivers have established themselves as bona fide options through the air, and this proves to be the difference.
Why the 49ers Lose
It would be because of a big day from McCoy, and the fact Buffalo boasted the No. 1 rushing offense in the league last year doesn’t bode well for a questionable 49ers run defense.
Such is the formula for beating a Kelly-led team — run the ball and control the time-of-possession battle.
Buffalo is able to do this, which negates any sort of meaningful offense the Niners are able to generate. Scoring quick is great, but the 49ers defense will eventually be worn down by having to face off against such a dynamic ground game.
Next: Week 7 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers