Tale Of The Tape: Buffalo Bills At New Orleans Saints
- QuarterbackThe Bills may not be one of the elite teams in the league, but rookie head coach Doug Marrone has a team that impresses you with its intensity. One of the reasons for that is the performance of Thad Lewis at quarterback, who has stepped in nicely for injured rookie E.J. Manuel. Lewis is completing 62.5 percent of his passes and is 1-1 in his two starts.Drew Brees gives the Saints a huge advantage at the quarterback position nearly every week. This is not one of the exceptions to that situation. Brees reads defenses as well as any quarterback in the league and he takes advantage of that ability by throwing with accuracy. While not a legitimate running threat, he can scramble out of the pocket.
- OffenseFred Jackson is a very tough running back. He took a shot against the Miami Dolphins and had to leave the field because of knee pain, but he came back and scored a touchdown. While Stevie Johnson may be a selfish diva at the WR position, he can make key catches when the game is on the line. Robert Woods is an emerging talent at the wide receiver position but he lacks consistency.The Saints are not getting much of a contribution from their running game because Pierre Thomas does not seem to be running with much purpose. Darren Sproles is a solid pass catcher who excels on third downs. Tight end Jimmy Graham is the best at his position in the league, and he excels when the Saints get in the red zone. Marques Colston is a tough receiver who catches the ball in traffic.
- DefenseThe Bills were able to come through with a road win over the Dolphins largely because their defense came through at big moments. Nobody was more impressive than defensive end Mario Williams, who had two fourth-quarter sacks as well as a forced fumble. Outside linebacker Kiko Alonso has the speed to make tackles sideline to sideline.The Saints have improved dramatically on defense this season as they rank 11th overall and eight against the pass. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton has a team-high 47 tackles, while strong safety Kenny Vaccaro has 33 tackles, four passes defensed and an interception. Defensive end Cameron Jordan leads the Saints with 5.0 sacks and has excellent quickness coming around the corner.
- Special TeamsThe Bills have not been good in their punt coverage and they gave up a touchdown return earlier this year. Veteran punt returner Jim Leonard can follow his blocks, but he lacks explosive speed. Dan Carpenter is a strong-legged kicker who has made 15-of-16 FG attempts.The Saints have handled their special-team responsibilities well this year, as they have not allowed a punt return longer than 17 yards. Garrett Hartley has made 14-of-16 FG attempts, but he is 5-of-7 from 40-to-49 yards and he does not have an attempt of 50 yards or more.
The Bills are a feisty team that is playing with a lot of effort, but that won’t be enough unless the Saints don’t take them seriously. New Orleans lost its last game to the Patriots and is coming off a bye week, so look for them to punish the Bills here. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor