Saints Week 3 Preview: Shuffalo to Buffalo
The Saints are fortunate to be making the trip to the Canadian border in late September while the weather is still mild. Though many fans have their eyes fixed on the Jets game in October, the Bills should not be dismissed. They have one of the most talented receivers to play the game on their roster (Terrell Owens) and the Saints secondary, never a strongpoint during the Payton regime, is going to be tested. The good news for the Saints is the Bills’ offensive line has been battered and the visiting team’s defensive line should have their best success yet at pass rushing.
The Bills had the New England Patriots beat until last minute errors allowed Tom Brady to get his team back into a game the Bills had dominated. Had the Bills held on, perhaps the media would be carping about them the way they have about the New York Jets…though probably not since Bills are a small market team like the Saints.
A major key to this game will be the Saints’ run defense; Bills running back Fred Jackson ran for an impressive 163 yards last week.
If the Black and Gold defense can contain Jackson and finally get their hands on a quarterback, the offense should put up enough points on the board for a comfortable win.
Since Mike Bell will most likely sit the game out, questions abound on how Sean Payton will react to the loss of his third-string star back.
Is Pierre Thomas ready to return at full-speed?
How many running snaps Reggie Bush will receive?
Will Lynell Hamilton, a big back who has shown in two pre-seasons he can make things happen, get his chance to prove in regular season games that he is as much of a find as Bell? Or will Hamilton’s poor ball control from pre-season make him the victim of a mid-season cut.
Or, heaven forbid, will Payton retreat to old form, compensating for a lack of confidence in the running game simply turn the offense into an air show.
A loss in Ralph Wilson Stadium would be a violent reality check going into what will be a tough opponent (Jets) the following Sunday in the Superdome. Grant needs to earn his considerable pay in this one or you can bet the Saints will start angling for a defensive end in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Saints are a 6 point favorite against Buffalo; judging by the team’s margin of victory in the first two games, a Saints win should easily cover the 6.