The 3-1 San Francisco 49ers square off against the 2-2 Buffalo Bills in San Francisco this Sunday. The 49ers are coming off a thorough destruction of the New York Jets while the Bills lost big time to the Patriots 52-28. It looks like this is going to be a very good contest, and here are three things to watch for in the game.
- 1. CJ Spiller vs. the 49ers Run Defense
Spiller is eighth in the NFL with 341 yards rushing. He has also added 119 receiving yards. Spiller is a very dynamic and dangerous running back. The 49ers have been absolute terrors to running backs over the last season and a half. In 2011, they allowed ONE rushing touchdown. Yes, ONE. The league knows that it’s an uphill battle trying to run on the Niners, so Spiller and Fred Jackson will have their work cut out for them.
- 2. Mario Williams vs. Joe Staley
Mario Williams was the prize of the off-season, signing with Buffalo after six incredibly successful seasons. Williams was the top pick in the 2006 NFL draft and did not disappoint. He has developed into one of the league’s most prolific sack-machines, with 54 ½ sacks in 86 games. He’ll likely be going head to head with Joe Staley. Also a former first round pick (28th overall in 2007), Staley has had a rough go of it protecting Alex Smith’s blindside. He has allowed four sacks in four games, on pace for 16 which would nearly double his career-worst. Staley will have another elite pass-rusher coming at him, so it’ll be interesting to see how he holds up.
- 3. Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. 49er Pass Rush (and himself)
Fitzpatrick has displayed flashes of brilliance in his two and a half seasons as the Bills’ starting quarterback. But he has regressed mightily since halfway point of the 2011 season. Granted, his running backs have had trouble staying healthy, but that doesn’t excuse Fitzpatrick from some of the interceptions he’s thrown. For a guy that is one of the smartest athletes in all of sports (the guy went to Harvard, yes, THAT Harvard), his decision-making on the field is often questionable. With a pass-rush that has a multitude of playmakers, Fitzpatrick should be under pressure for a fair amount of the game. What he does under pressure will help dictate the outcome of the game.
Final Prediction: 49ers win 27-17
Stats obtained from pro-football-reference.com and foxsports.com787811