NFL Preview - Buffalo (2-2) at San Francisco (3-1)|
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Traveling across the country to face an NFC heavyweight
probably isn't the best prescription after a second half collapse a week ago
but that's the predicament the Buffalo Bills find themselves in as they
prepare to visit the San Francisco 49ers.
The Bills will be attempting to rebound from their epic second-half collapse
against New England last week. Buffalo squandered a 14-point lead by allowing
the Patriots to score 45 second-half points in what turned about to be a 52-28
drubbing by New England.
The Bills allowed a mind-boggling 580 total yards, the second-highest total
allowed in franchise history and the Pats scored touchdowns on six consecutive
Ryan Fitzpatrick registered 350 yards and four touchdown passes for Buffalo in
the defeat but he was also picked off four times. Meanwhile, Bills running
backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson were limited to 33 and 29 yards,
respectively, by New England's defense. Spiller suited up despite injuring his
shoulder last week, while Jackson had missed the previous two games with a
"Obviously, (the loss) showed us that we're not there yet," Fitzpatrick said.
"To have that type of lead, we've got to be able to just continue to put the
pressure on them."
The Niners, on the other hand, dismantled the New York Jets 34-0 last week,
the team's first road shutout since their 2001 regular-season finale at New
Carlos Rogers' 51-yard touchdown on a fumble return headlined a smothering
defensive effort from the Niners in the blowout victory.
Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick all
recorded rushing touchdowns as San Francisco bounced back strongly from
a 24-13 upset loss at Minnesota in Week 3. Still, the story of the day
belonged to the 49ers' defense.
San Francisco held the overmatched Jets to a paltry 145 yards and nine first
downs while forcing four turnovers, including Rogers' recovery of a Santonio
Holmes fumble that gave the Niners a 24-0 lead just seconds into the fourth
quarter. The 49ers also blocked a punt that led to Hunter's one-yard touchdown
plunge with 6:03 remaining.
"Anytime a defense comes out like that, it makes it easy on us," said 49ers
quarterback Alex Smith.
The 49ers also registered three sacks of Mark Sanchez, who managed just 103
yards passing for New York, which was handed its most lopsided shutout loss
since a 37-0 setback to Buffalo in the 1989 regular-season finale.
The all-time series between Buffalo and San Francisco is tied at five apiece
and the two teams haven't met since Nov. 30, 2008 when the Niners edged the
Bills, 10-3, in Western New York. The two teams haven't met in the Bay Area
since Dec. 26, 2004, which was a 41-7 Buffalo rout.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
San Francisco, which has won five straight home games against AFC opponents,
has one of the NFL's best defenses and will attempt to press the turnover-
prone Bills, who have dropped five consecutive on the road vs. NFC foes.
It all starts up front for the Niners, where versatile All-Pro Justin Smith
generally overpowers opposing offensive lineman. That enables playmaking
linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman to avoid the trash and make
plays sideline to sideline. Meanwhile, Aldon Smith's pass rush figures to
harass Fitzpatrick, who is prone to forcing things, and hard-hitting safeties
Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson are always around to pry the ball loose.
The Bills lead the NFL with 16 touchdowns this season and have impressive
talent at the skill positions with Jackson, Spiller and receiver Stevie
Johnson standing out. That said, it's hard to imagine a Buffalo offensive line
short on talent holding up against the 49ers.
For Buffalo it's all about getting something out of their highly-paid but
disappointing defensive line. If Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Mark
Anderson start living up to the hype, the Bills might be able to get something
done against a San Francisco offense which lacks big play options on the
The 49ers may get a boost in the backfield, however. Brandon Jacobs, the
former New York Giant has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury in the
second preseason game, could make his San Francisco debut Sunday.
"I'm ready to play," Jacobs told the 49ers' website Tuesday.
The 49ers are playing with purpose and confidence, save for one hiccup in
Minnesota. Buffalo, meanwhile, has to be questioning itself after its collapse
against New England. Win or lose Bills coach Chan Gailey has a 24-hour rule,
meaning you need to move on from your last game and focus on the upcoming
"It's one that will hang with us," Fitzpatrick said when talking about the
loss to the Pats. "You try to block it out and you hope it doesn't linger into
the next game."
Forgetting the Pats debacle is going to be a process for Gailey and it's
unlikely his club bounces back and gets it done this week.
"I've got to work on the mind set of this football team and creating a sense
of urgency every snap of every game," Gailey said.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: 49ers 30, Bills 20
10/04 13:27:42 ET