The Bills, coached by former Saints Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Doug Marrone, are currently 3-4 following a 23-21 win at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
During Marrone’s three-year tenure, the Saints led the NFL in total offense and passing yards per game in 2006 and 2008 and led the league with 6,264 yards on offense in 2006 and again in 2008 with 6,571 yards.
The Bills will likely rely on quarterback Thad Lewis, an undrafted free agent out of Duke, to get the job done against the Saints with their starting quarterback EJ Manuel recovering from knee surgery. Lewis has played in two games as the Bills starter, completing 40-of-64 passes for 418 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Buffalo has also recently signed quarterback Matt Flynn, who was released by the Oakland Raiders in early October.
The Saints will have to control Buffalo’s fierce ground attack with running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Although both have been fighting injuries this season, Spiller has posted 362 rushing yards, 36 receiving yards and one touchdown and Jackson has recorded 380 rushing yards, 215 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
In his second season with the Bills, defensive end Mario Williams is off to the best start of his career with 10 sacks throughout the first seven games. Williams had two sacks last week against the Dolphins, the last one forcing a fumble recovered by defensive tackle Kyle Williams at the Miami 43-yard line with 2:48 remaining in the game.
The Saints have opened the season at 5-1 three other times, in 1988, 2002 and 2006. In 1991 and 2009, New Orleans was undefeated after six contests. A balanced, consistent approach on offense combined with a resurgent, opportunistic defense has helped the club make the plays to get off to a fast start. The club’s lone loss this season came in a closely-fought 30-27 defeat at New England on Oct. 13.
The bye week has allowed New Orleans to heal and recharge for the 2013 season’s stretch run. New Orleans will look to continue a trend where they have won four consecutive contests coming off of their bye. The Saints’ success has combined sterling efforts by the offense, defense and special teams units with several rookie and veteran newcomers across the board. The play of solid returning veterans has also been a key aspect of the club’s improvement from a 2-4 start in 2012.
On offense, quarterback
In addition to Graham, the duo of
The defense has been led by the trio of safety
The Saints are hosting their fourth game of the regular season after starting the year in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for three of their first four contests, running up a 3-0 mark inside their home stadium. After this week’s contest, the Saints will close out their AFC East slate with a trip to the New York Jets.