The Buffalo Bills head across the country for their Week 5 tilt against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, and the team is feeling pretty good.
Buffalo, coming off a huge 16-0 road victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday, has won two straight games to move to 2-2 on the season. The Bills also get the return of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and reserve offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson from the NFL’s suspended list.
Buffalo absolutely dominated New England last week. The Bills outgained the Patriots 378-277 in total offense as they topped the 100-yard mark on the ground for a second consecutive game. Defensively, Buffalo got consistent pressure on quarterback Jacoby Brissett, sacking him three times.
Los Angeles is one of the surprise teams in the NFL, leading the NFC West with a 3-1 record despite being outscored 76-63. This game marks just the second home game this for the Rams; they defeated Seattle 9-3 in their regular home opener in Week 2.
Los Angeles picked up its third straight win with a 17-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons last week, as the Rams’ defense forced five turnovers. Los Angeles also registered three sacks and six quarterback hits.
The Rams struggled offensively versus the Falcons, managing just 288 total yards and 12 first downs. Running back Todd Gurley, who has had a rough go of it this season, totaled 33 yards on 19 carries.
Game time for the Bills and Rams is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET and will be televised by CBS.
The rest of the article will look at five predictions for the game.
1. The Bills will rush for over 110 yards.
Buffalo ranks seventh in the NFL with 123.3 rushing yards. However, the Bills have amped up their running attack the past two games under newly appointed offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, totaling 342 yards on the ground against New England and Arizona, which includes an NFL-best 252 yards coming in the first half. According to ESPN, 207 of those 252 yards occurred before defenders made the first contact.
LeSean McCoy has led the way with 180 rushing yards over the last two games, picking up his first 100-yard game of the year versus the Cardinals. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has also gotten into the act, rushing for at least for 25 yards in three of the Bills’ four contests, and is averaging 35 yards on the ground a game. Backup running back Mike Gillislee has 50 yards on nine carries over the past two games.
Los Angeles’ defense ranks 17th against the run, permitting 104.5 yards per contest. However, the Rams are surrendering just 3.8 yards per carry, which ranks 11th best. L.A. has permitted 100 yards on the ground in two of the four games they have played.
2. Shady McCoy will have at least 125 yards of total offense.
McCoy is the Bills’ primary playmaker on offense with wide receiver Sammy Watkins on injured reserve. The 28-year-old back has taken 63 percent of the team’s rushes and been targeted on 17 percent of Taylor’s throws this year. He has surpassed the 100-yard mark in total offense in the past two games and is averaging 96.0 total yards on the season. McCoy has 297 yards on the ground along with 87 yards on 17 receptions.
Los Angeles ranks 23rd in the league in total defense (379.5 yards per game). In each of the last two games, the Rams permitted their opposing running backs — David Johnson (Arizona) and Charles Sims (Tampa Bay) — to gain 100-yards in total offense. Johnson had 124 combined yards (83 rushing yards, 41 receiving yards) last week while Sims tallied 122 yards (55 rushing, 69 receiving yards) in Week 3.
3. Zach Brown will lead team in tackles.
Brown has been terrific all season. The league’s leading tackler has 51 combined tackles (34 solos) and has collected at least 10 stops in each of the past three games, with his best performance coming against the Patriots. Versus the Patriots, the 26-year-old linebacker recorded 17 tackles, three stuffs, and one sack. He also forced two fumbles.
Brown has led or tied for the team lead in tackles in three of the first four games.
4. Lorenzo Alexander, Jerry Hughes or Marcell Dareus will record a sack.
Buffalo did an excellent job getting pressure on Brissett last week, being credited with pressure on 42 percent of his 30 drop backs. The Bills ended up with three sacks against the Pats and six quarterback hits. The Bills, who had just 21.0 sacks last year, have already registered 13 this year, which ranks the third most in the league.
Alexander and Hughes have been the most successful at getting to the quarterback for the Bills, each tallying four sacks for the season. Hughes has totaled a sack in three of the games, and Alexander has been credited with a half a sack or more in each of the first four games.
Dareus had just two sacks last year but he had 10 in 2014 and has 30.5 over his five-year career. The Rams have given up eight sacks this year.
5. Buffalo will earn their first West Coast win since 2004.
Cross-country trips have not been very profitable for the Bills recently. Buffalo is just 3-11 in their last 14 trips to the Pacific time zone, dropping their last six contests. Their last win against a West Coast team came on December 24, 2004, against the San Francisco 49ers.
Buffalo is playing at Los Angeles Coliseum for the first time since October 1992. This is also the first time since Super Bowl XXVII that the Bills have played in the Los Angeles region.
Los Angeles is favored by 2.5 points but one ESPN Insider believes the Bills are the better team.
“I think Buffalo is a better team but this is a 50-50 game to me.”
[Featured Image by Steven Senne/AP Image]