After a solid win at home against the crash-landing Jets, the Buffalo Bills will travel down to North Carolina to take on the Carolina Panthers. This Panthers team is a definite step up in difficulty for the Bills, and the raucous road atmosphere certainly won’t help matters. The Carolina Panthers are coming off their own opening week win as well, and will look to build off of it with the confidence and energy of playing in Bank of America Field. This is a definite measuring bar game for the Buffalo Bills. Here are 3 keys to the game to help give them a chance at their first 2-0 start since 2011.
Key 1: Control the Line of Scrimmage:
The strongest units of this Bills team are both the offensive and defensive line. On the offensive side of the ball, Buffalo needs to play a physical and fundamentally sound game. With a line consisting of Julius Peppers, Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei and Charles Johnson, this Bills line will have their hands full. Luke Kuechly will also wreak havoc when he’s put up into the box. With this said, it will have to be a full blocking committee by the Bills this week. The o-line, tight ends, and even the fullbacks will need to provide sufficient blocking for Lesean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor. On the defensive side, Dareus and Kyle Williams will need to stuff up the middle to prohibit any running room for Jon Stewart and Christian McCaffrey. Brown, Humber and Alexander will also help the front 7 out in stuffing the run. Run defense hasn’t been much of a problem for the Bills in recent years. On the edges, Hughes and Lawson will have the difficult task of containing Cam Newton. If Buffalo can dominate the trench-battles on both sides, this game will definitely favor Buffalo.
Key 2: Expose the Panther’s Secondary:
Buffalo has been picked on heavily throughout the offseason by national media for their “inexperience and miscommunication” as well as their “beatability” in the secondary. This week, I believe it is the Panther’s secondary that needs to be exposed. 4 out of their 5 cornerbacks have 2 seasons or less of experience. On the far back end, 3 of their 4 safeties have 7+ years, including Mike Adams (14 years). The young inexperience, along with perhaps the older age of the safeties may make for a beatable secondary. Buffalo should look to play Kaelin Clay, acquired via trade from the Panthers, and try to blow the top off of this defense this week a few times.
Key 3: Contain Cam Newton:
Cam Newton, like most quarterbacks, hates pressure. When hit, sacked, and knocked down, he’ll become just as frustrated as anyone. Cam Newton is dangerous on his feet, but he’s no Tyrod Taylor. He’s bigger and a little less slick running the ball than the Bills playcaller, and he can certainly be contained like he was in Buffalo back in 2013. Buffalo cannot afford to give him time to pick apart the defense while in the pocket. Pressure from key players such as Lawson, Hughes, Alexander, and maybe even some cornerback blitzes should all be main focuses for the Buffalo Bills this week.
There’s certainly some obvious extra keys, such as starting fast and pouncing on their opportunities, but these keys above will give Buffalo the best chance to win. The Bills need to take advantage of these matchups this week, and will need to keep Newton in check if they want to ensure themselves a chance to win this football game. Buffalo will be riding high off their win last week, and if they can pull this win off, the morale payoff will be outstanding for the players and fans alike. Buffalo needs to leave their mark this week. Thanks for reading, and as always, let’s go Buffalo!