Now that we all have had some time to digest the mass amounts of turkey and apple pie, we can look forward to Sunday, where the 4-7 Buffalo Bills will take on the 2-9 Atlanta Falcons in Toronto. You can catch the game on FOX and it will be kicking off at 4:05 p.m.
Here are some things to look for on Sunday:
Look for E.J. Manuel to continue to get better. Manuel has had some time during the bye week to make up for some of the reps that he lost while he was injured earlier in the season. Two weeks ago against the Jets, Manuel looked really good in the blowout victory. He looks like he is getting more comfortable in the system and is throwing the ball down field more. If the Bills want to keep themselves in the playoff hunt, he needs to continue to get better.
After having a week to recover, look for running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller to have a big game. These two have been dinged up all year, nursing a variety of different little injuries. Coach Doug Marrone said that both Spiller and Jackson have looked healthier than they have all season in the practices leading up to this week.
This matchup between Buffalo’s running game and Atlanta’s rushing defense is very favorable. The Bills have the 7th best running game in the league, while the Falcons are 31st in terms of rushing yards allowed per game. I expect Buffalo to run all over this Atlanta defense Sunday afternoon.
Speaking of player getting healthy, the Bills will have all of their receivers back. Wideouts Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods sat out a couple weeks ago against the Jets with various leg injuries. They have fully practiced all week and will be ready to go come Sunday. Before Manuel went down in Week 5, one his favorite targets was fellow rookie Robert Woods. Look for them to pick up right where they left off.
On defense, the key to winning this week is not allowing Matt Ryan to have a big game. Ryan has been struggling ever since his franchise receiver Julio Jones went out with a season ending foot injury. The Falcon’s receiving corps has had a slew of injuries over the past few weeks. Tony Gonzalez is listed as questionable for Sunday and Roddy White has been nursing an ankle injury for the majority of the year.
Even though Ryan has been struggling without all of his weapons, he is still a top tier quarterback. Buffalo’s secondary is 3rd in the league in interceptions, and they will need to force some turnovers if they want to slow down Ryan’s pass happy offense.
One thing that has plagued the Bills all season is stopping the run. Buffalo is 29th in rushing yards allowed per game. No good. Fortunately for the Bills, this Atlanta team isn’t good at running the ball, ranking 31st in rushing yards per game. Buffalo’s front 7 needs to assert their dominance early and take away the running game, forcing Ryan to throw the ball.
Turning our attention to Vegas, the odds makers are leaning towards Buffalo for the first time all season. The Bills are favored by 3 points over an Atlanta Falcons team that has been a complete disaster this season. My prediction is that the Falcons’ luck isn’t going to change this week. I don’t think Atlanta even wants to win. They are tied with Tampa, Jacksonville, and Minnesota in the race for the #1 pick. The Bills on the other hand are still in contention for the last Wild Card spot. The Bills have everything to lose and the Falcons have every reason to lose. My pick: Buffalo 38, Atlanta 17.
Read more Bills rumors, news and opinion on our Buffalo Bills page