Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills walks off the field after a loss to the Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Miami won 30-23. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
The 8-6 Denver Broncos travel to Buffalo this week for a Christmas Eve meeting with the 5-9 Bills. The Broncos are coming off a mistake laden loss at the hands of the New England Patriots, but still maintain a one-game lead in the AFC West division. The Bills are tied with the Miami Dolphins at the bottom of the AFC East division, even though the Dolphins splashed over them 30-23 last Sunday. Reggie Bush ran through a snow storm for a career high 203 yards on the Bills, who hardly look like the same team that started the season 5-2. Denver is surging toward a playoff berth and a possible Division title after a 4-12 season in 2010.
Game time is set for 11 a.m. MST Saturday December 24th @ at Buffalo Ralph Wilson Stadium. The "Ralph" is an Open air stadium that holds 73,967 freezing individuals. The playing surface is a synthetic known as AstroPlay.
The weather forecast for the game calls for inclement weather.
For a current weather report, please go here.
Walt Anderson and his crew will be officiating the game.
This chart represents the Rankings for the Bills Offense as compared to the Broncos Defense. I have also included last week's rankings for the Broncos so you can see progress or regress. The DVOA stat is taken from Football Outsiders and is explained here.
|63||16th||QB Hits Allowed||N/A||N/A||N/A|
The Quarterback for Buffalo is Ryan Fitzpatrick. He has gone 309/496 for 3,329 yds, a 62.1% Completion Rate, 22 TDs, 19 INTs and an 80.8 Passer Rating. Tyler Thigpen (3/8 for 25 yds and 1 INT) is the backup and the all-purpose player Brad Smith (20 car, 87 yds, 1 TD) is the emergency Quarterback, but has many roles on this team.
The Bills Offensive Line has surrendered a league low 20 Sacks, the fewest in the NFL. LT Demetrius Bell (5 G, 0.5 SA) returned from a broken collarbone and resumed his starting spot. Rookie Chris Hairston (2 False Start, 1 Holding, 3 Sacks Allowed) had been starting in his place. LG Andy Levitre (1 HLD, 4.5 SA), C Kraig Urbik (1 FS, 2 HLD, 1 SA), RG Chad Rinehart (3 FS, 1 HLD, 1 SA) and RT Erik Pears (7 Penalties, 3 FS, 2 HLD, 3,5 SA) are the other starters along the line.Sam Young (3 GA) and Colin Brown (9 GA) are the reserves.
Chan Gailey has said he wants to limit Spiller to less than 20 carries per game, so expect to see Tashard Choice in the mix. Scott Chandler is a big Red Zone target for Ryan Fitzpatrick and has been sorely missed. The Tight End has missed the last two games and is questionable at this point to play on Saturday. David Nelson had his best game in 2 months with six catches for 60 yards on Sunday. Stevie Johnson could use two big games to reach 1,000 yards on the season and enhance his Free Agency appeal, but he has had a case of the drops recently when not acting like Plaxico Burress. Of course it doesn't help that Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the league in Interceptions either.
This chart represents the Rankings for the Bills Defense as compared to the Broncos Offense.
|16||T-10th||Interceptions||T-4th Least||9||T-5th Least|
|N/A||N/A||QB Hits Allowed||6th||57||6th|
The starting 4 at Linebacker are SLB Chris Kelsay (27 TKL, 2 SK, 1 FF, 1 PD), Rookie MLB Kelvin Sheppard (56 TKL, 1 PD, 1 SAF), WLB Nick Barnett (113 TKL, 3 SK, 1 FF, 3 PD, 2 INT, 1 TD) and JLB Spencer Johnson (39 TKL, 2 SK, 1 FF, 1 PD). Danny Batten (23 TKL, 0.5 SK) Arthur Moats (21 TKL, 0.5 SK), former Bronco Andra Davis (12 TKL) and Kirk Morrison (4 TKL, 1 SK) are the next men off the bench.
At Safety, the starters are FS Jairus Byrd (88 TKL,1 SK, 3 FF, 7 PD, 2 INT) and SS George Wilson (92 TKL, 1 FF, 6 PD, 4 INT). Bryan Scott (58 TKL,1 SK, 6 PD, 2 INT, 1 TD) and Rookie Da'Norris Searcy (31 TKL, 1 PD, 1 INT) are the backups.
|Bills||Rank||Special Teams||Rank||Broncos||Last Week|
The Bills Kicker is Dave Rayner, who took over for Rian Lindell in Week 9 when Lindell broke his shoulder making a Tackle against the Jets. Rayner has made 6 of his 9 Field Goal Attempts (66.7%) with his longest being a 56-yarder in Week 11. He has hit all 9 Extra Point Attempts. Rayner's Kickoffs average landing around the 12 yard line. Out of 22 Kickoffs, 7 have gone for touchbacks and 12 have been returned for a 22.3 yard average.
Brad Smith has been the primary Kick Returner for the Bills. He has 15 returns for an 18.8 average and a long of 28 yards. Justin Rogers (8 KR, 28.8 avg, 54 Lg), C.J. Spiller (6 KR, 23.8 avg, 35 Lg) and Leodis McKelvin (2 KR, 21.5 avg, 22 Lg) have taken reps as well.
The Broncos should be able to take advantage of the Bills poor coverage units to help with the field position game. Justin Rogers has averaged 35.5 yards on Kickoffs in the last two games, good for 2nd best since Week 14.
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