1. How Buffalo’s corners handle the speed of Philadelphia’s receivers. The Bills have eight interceptions this season, four off of Tom Brady and two returns for touchdowns. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they’ve been burned by two rookie wide outs, Oakland’s Denarius Moore and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, and Wes Welker ran wild and free with 217 yards receiving. Leodis McKelvin has been victimized at corner against both Moore and Green, and the game figures to change when he’s matched up against one of the best wide receiver tandems in the NFL in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Drayton Florence will be physical at the line of scrimmage and figures to see both time against Jackson and Maclin. Buffalo’s secondary gets a bit of boost with the return of Terrence McGee.
2. Chris Hairston’s first ever NFL start at left tackle. Demetrius Bell is out with a shoulder injury which by all accounts from his play the first four weeks of the season is bad news for Buffalo. Hairston filled in nicely in the fourth quarter last week against Cincinnati in Bell’s absence and though he won’t face baptism by fire this week with Trent Cole out for the game, Hairston will likely see plenty of Jason Babin who leads the league with seven sacks. Philly leads the NFL with 15 sacks and if there’s any matchup the Eagles will look to exploit, it might be Hairston.
3. Ground and Pound. Both run defenses have not performed up to task so far this season. Philly is allowing 140 rushing yards per game which ranks 30th in the NFL while Buffalo ranks 25th giving up 130. The Bills are coming off a loss to Cincinnati where they allowed 170 yards rushing to the Bengals and almost 100 yards after halftime. Both teams have strong running games to exploit each other’s defense. Both Fred Jackson and LeSean McCoy have four rushing touchdowns. McCoy is averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Jackson is gaining 5.8 yards per carry. Both teams have shortcomings against the run and expect both teams to establish the running game.
4. Can the Bills bounce back? Can the Eagles save their season? The Bills missed a golden opportunity last week to go 4-0. They lost to the Bengals, a team they should’ve beaten. Instead, they fell to 3-1 and now face a big test in trying to bounce back against a very talented Eagles team. The Eagles have underachieved through four games and have lost three straight. Everyone in football knows their season hangs in the balance in Orchard Park. A loss here all but ends Philly’s season. A win here for the Bills and they’ll prove to themselves and the rest of the NFL they have the resolve and mindset to overcome a loss and not follow up with another loss.
5. Philadelphia’s four-quarter meltdowns. Aside from beating up on the winless St. Louis Rams, the Eagles have been a mess in the fourth quarter. They led Atlanta 31-21 going into the fourth quarter and lost 35-31. The led the Giants 16-14 heading into the fourth but lost 29-16. Last week against the 49ers, they led by 20 points only to lost by one, 24-23. Philly has been outscored 36-0 in the fourth quarter during their three-game losing streak. The Bills have outscored opponents 48-31 this season through four games.