Bills Head West to Take on Division Leading Raiders

The Buffalo Bills (6-5) are traveling to the west coast to take on the AFC West-leading Oakland Raiders (9-2). The Bills have been in quite a winless drought in Oakland, to say the least, not having won a game there since 1966, 50 years ago, something they hope to change on Sunday. The Bills are coming off of a big victory at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a win that put them back over .500 on the season and kept their playoff hopes alive. As for the Raiders they are coming in fresh off a victory over the Carolina Panthers, a game they narrowly escaped thanks to the play of quarterback Derek Carr. The victory pushed their season-long win streak to five, a streak they will look to extend against the Bills and ultimately pad their AFC West lead in hopes of locking up the top seed in the AFC for the playoffs. For the Bills here on out they recognize every game is a must-win if they hope to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“They are going to get our best shot one way or another, but I don’t know if it is extra motivation that this team has this record or whatever. They got that record because they earned it. We are just going out there because we need to win, whatever that takes, we are going to give them everything. We will see if it is good enough,” explained Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan.

The Bills are going to give the Raiders all they can handle, and that means forcing the Raiders to try and slow down the league’s top running attack coming in with over 157 yards per game. A strong run game has been the Bills recipe for success all season and going up against the 26th ranked run defense this should be an area of the game they look to exploit. Despite the record, the Raiders defense statistically has been one of the worst in the league, yet they can not be overlooked as playmakers. Specifically, Khalil Mack who has been a force in the league and is in the conversation for the best defensive player year in and year out. Mack currently leads the Raiders with 9 sacks on the season and is coming off one of his most productive games of the season where he recorded a sack, a fumble recovery, and an interception returned for a touchdown off of Cam Newton. The Bills, however, have seen the return of their star defensive tackle Marcel Dareus paying dividends for them. Since his return from the IR Dareus has played in three games and picked up nearly four sacks already. This solid play in addition to joining Lorenzo Alexander in his breakout season with 10 sacks has given the Bills a formidable pass rush, something they will need against a Raiders team who has allowed the least amount of sacks in the league.

This Raiders offense has been one of the best units in the league all season ranking in the top ten in most major statistical categories including putting up 28 points per game good enough for 4th in the league. In large part, the Raiders success has all started with the play of quarterback Derek Carr who has been playing at an MVP level all season long. For a Bills team that capitalizes on mistakes to win this a matchup that those mistakes on the part of Carr will be tough to come by, as Carr has thrown 22 touchdowns to only 5 interceptions on the season. To be noted in this one Carr is nursing a hand injury that will not sideline him in this one but can be an area of concern on whether or not he will be at full health on Sunday.

In terms of health, the Bills regained their biggest receiving threat a week ago and Sammy Watkins wasted no time making his presence known bringing in 3 receptions for 80 yards in his return. Questions about Watkins foot in this linger whether or not he will also be at one hundred percent, though, “he’s going to play,” stated Rex Ryan. “Sammy contributed in a big way last week and we expect a big game this week.” Not suiting up this Sunday for the Bills, however, will be three key players in receivers Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, and cornerback Ronald Darby.

Looking to keep their season alive the Bills will face arguably their best opponent in the Raiders and will be looking to succeed in the underdog role. In a very tight AFC playoff picture a loss can all but end their hopes as they currently sit at the 9th seed in the conference. As for the Raiders a win here would not only extend their win streak but pad their lead in their division which can very well send three teams to the playoffs. A must win for both teams here and one that the Bills and their fans desperately want in hopes to end their long playoff drought.

The Bills will take on the Raiders at 4:25 on Sunday.

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