Arizona and Buffalo are both banged up going into a critical game for either franchise. The Cardinals are coming off a disheartening loss to divisional rival St. Louis. The Bills have been recovering in Arizona this week following two straight losses in which they surrendered 1200 total yards and 97 points. The Cardinals defense is allowing only 15.6 points per game, fifth in the NFL, but the Arizona offense has yet to record 300 total yards in a game. The Bills offense is middle of the pack in yards per game and points, and the defense is struggling, to say the least.
Bills Offense vs. Cardinals Defense
The Bills offensive line is hurting on the inside. Eric Wood, Colin Brown, Kraig Urbik, and Chad Rhinehart are all either out or banged up for Sunday’s game at Arizona. This leaves the Bills with few options on the interior line, which is where the strength of the Arizona defense brings pressure. Darnell Dockett has been limited in the last two games, but look for him to regain his true form after a nine-day break to heal. If Dockett and Calais Campbell can successfully rush on the insides against Buffalo’s weakened line, it will open the linebackers for pressure up the middle.
The Arizona linebackers, lead by Daryl Washington, will have a big test this week facing one of the NFL's best rushing duos in Buffalo’s Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The Cardinals are notoriously stingy against the run at home, which should force Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw the ball. The Bills Stevie Johnson has not seen the end zone in two weeks, and this week he faces shutdown corner Patrick Peterson.
The Arizona cornerbacks are hurting, Michael Adams is out, and Greg Toler replaced William Gay in the Miami game, only for Toler to get hurt while getting beat for a touchdown in the Rams game. With Peterson shadowing Johnson in this game, it will be critical for tight end Scott Chandler and the rest of the Bills receiving corps to step up.
Cardinals Offense vs. Bills Defense
There has been much said recently on the woes of the Cardinals offense. Arizona is last in the NFL with 23 sacks, 17 in the last two games. The Cardinals are averaging less than 3 yards per carry, and have yet to have a 100-yard rusher or 300 yards of total offense in a game. This week they get the Bills defense, a defense that allowed 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing for the first time in NFL history last week.
St. Louis beat Arizona by leaving two safeties deep and keeping everything in front of them, that scheme relies on creating pressure with the front four. The Bills front four has had troubles this season. Bills defense end Mark Anderson is out, Mario Williams is battling a wrist injury, and Super Mario is generally underwhelming everyone with his poor play. Teams have not needed a double team to beat Williams so far this year, but the Cardinals will, as they are weakest on the edges with tackles D’Anthony Batiste and Bobbie Massie.
The $100 Million Man needs a big day against a Cardinals offensive line that has been battered as of late. The Cardinals will be working three running backs into their game plan against the Bills, starting speedy back LaRod Stevens-Howling this week. Buffalo is giving up 171.8 yards per game on the ground, and the Cardinals are desperate to ease pressure on Kevin Kolb with a more potent running game. The Bills have shown weakness in their nickel defense, and the Cardinals use three and four wide receiver sets often. Kevin Kolb is looking for a big game against a Bills passing defense giving up 277 yards per game. Arizona moves Larry Fitzgerald all over the field, flanker, split end, slot receiver, and even in the backfield, and they complicate things by putting him in motion. The Bills have no one to match up against Larry Fitzgerald; so double teams will be necessary. Look for Kolb to exploit the mismatches Fitzgerald creates in the Bills secondary.
Both teams have home run hitters playing on special teams. Leodis McKelvin has been a consistent weapon for the Bills on kick returns and punts, and has an 88-yard punt return touchdown already this season. Patrick Peterson emerged as one of the most dangerous punt returners in the NFL for the Cardinals last year, but he has yet to break out this year. LaRod Stevens-Howling leaves his role as kick returner to start at running back for the Cardinals. Arizona will miss him as a weapon on returns, as William Powell and Andre Roberts will try to replace The Hyphen on kickoffs.845969