The Philadelphia Eagles 2015 regular season football schedule continues this week with a game against the Buffalo Bills. It's obviously a big game with LeSean McCoy returning to town. It's also a big one because the Eagles are still alive in the NFC Playoff Picture. In advance of this game, I reached out to our friends over at Buffalo Rumblings. Our friend Brian Galliford (@BrianGalliford) kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming matchup. Let's take a look at his answers.
1) How’s that LeSean McCoy guy been doing this season? How are Bills fans feeling about that trade at this point?
It's hard to overstate just how many die-hard fans Kiko Alonso had here in Buffalo. I still talk to people who can't believe the Bills traded him for anyone. But I do know this: right now, there are close to zero complaints about the way Shady is playing. He has eclipsed 100 total yards from scrimmage in each of the last six games, averaging 92.7 rushing yards and 27 receiving yards per game in that stretch. The Bills are a bit boom-or-bust offensively - they swing between huge plays and three-and-out skids seemingly on a whim - but McCoy is their constant. He has been invaluable for a surprisingly good offense.
2) There’s obviously more to the Bills' offense than just McCoy. What’s made Buffalo so good on offense this season?
Well, this Sammy Watkins guy is pretty brilliant when the coordinator and the quarterback don't forget about him. Tyrod Taylor is capable of making a big play, either with his legs or with a deep ball, at any point, which makes him dangerous even when he's not playing at peak efficiency. Greg Roman is still one of the NFL's most creative minds when it comes to blocking schemes and the running game. As mentioned earlier, they're inconsistent - they go through these crushing lulls where they can't seem to achieve anything at all, and it usually happens when Watkins isn't producing - but when they're on, they can score from anywhere on the field.
3) Who is one player you’d steal from the Eagles roster to put on the Bills?
It'd have to be Fletcher Cox, which might be a surprising answer given Buffalo's reputation on the defensive line. Kyle Williams is on IR, however, and the rest of the line has underachieved, even while they haven't been bad at all. They're just not going to have two All-Pros and three Pro Bowlers up front this year. More pressingly, the Bills' (slightly) disappointing defense has surrendered over 100 rushing yards in six of their last seven games. Cox is Philadelphia's best and most consistent performer, and would help Buffalo's defense immensely right now.
4) Can you name one matchup that really favors the Bills and one that really favors the Eagles?
After talking up Cox mere seconds ago, I'll point to Buffalo's running game being a clear advantage heading into this contest. The Bills rank in the top five in most rushing categories in the NFL right now, thanks in part to ever-improving line play, Roman's play-calling, and McCoy being an elite player. The Bills genuinely believe that they can run on any team in the league, and they have delivered far more often than not on that belief this season. You can bet they'll want to establish Shady.
On the flip side, I like how Philly's struggling offense matches up against Buffalo's banged-up defense in this one. The Bills are missing a great defensive tackle (Williams), their top safety (Aaron Williams), and probably their top cornerback as well, Stephon Gilmore. Their best linebacker, Nigel Bradham, might try to play through an ankle injury, but that might not happen. And this is a defense that has struggled mightily with intermittent use of no-huddle this season; look no further than Houston's first touchdown last week. Rex Ryan will obviously prepare for the up-tempo stuff this week, but it has given them problems on numerous occasions.
5) Let’s hear your predictions for this game. Who wins this game and why?
I'm not at all into the idea of conjuring up a score prediction on a weekly basis, instead preferring to focus on the players and coaches, the playoff stakes, and the rest of the stuff that makes the sport fun. I do believe that both offenses match up well with their opponents' respective defense, and that each coaching staff has the potential to either badly out-coach the other, or to completely flop. The venue helps Philly's cause, as well, as the Bills are playing their fourth road game in the last five weeks. Both teams are pretty desperate for a win, and both teams are talented. Add in the Shady story line, and this should be a very fun game on Sunday.