Storylines to follow for Raiders @ Bills

Several key issues will factor into the outcome of the game Sunday when the Raiders travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills. Both teams are coming off wins in week one, and for the first time in a long time one of them will come out of the second week as a 2-0 team. For the Raiders, it will be their second consecutive road game to start the season. They are 7-14 in their last 21 contests traveling to the east coast. For the Bills, it will be their home opener, but they won’t be the only ones going home for week two.

Trevor Scott homecoming

The Raiders’ 169th pick of the 2008 draft was spent on a kid from Potsdam, New York. Scott was twice named an All-Northern selection at Potsdam High School as both an outside linebacker and tight end. He was also a two-time team captain and MVP for his high school football team in addition to being a star member of the track team and basketball team. In 2003, became a redshirt freshman for the Buffalo Bulls. Following his redshirt season, he played two seasons at tight end before making a change to defensive end where he really excelled.

In his junior and senior seasons, he became a sack master for the college football team. In 24 games, he had 90 tackles, including 15 for a loss, and 19 sacks. Following his senior season, he posted impressive pre-draft numbers with 32 reps of 225, a 33.5” vertical, and a 4.54 forty-yard dash. At 6’5” and 256 pounds, Scott was almost destined to become a Raider. During his short time with the club, Scott has led the team in sacks with 13.5 since 2008. That includes missing eight games in 2010. Sunday, in front of friends and family, Scott will look to put on a show for the Silver and Black.

What it means for both teams

For both the Raiders and the Bills, there is much to prove through the rest of the season, and Sunday’s game is going to be a clear indicator of where the two teams are at. Trey Wingo, the host of ESPN’s NFL Live, said that in spite of the Chargers vs. Patriots and Eagles vs. Falcons, this game is the game he looks forward to watching the most this weekend. Wingo thinks the team that wins this game has a legitimate chance of earning a wildcard berth at the end of the season… or more.

The simple breakdown of this matchup is that both teams need to win it. The Raiders need it because they can go undefeated in the division all they want, but they are going to need to beat teams outside of the division to prove they are worthy. They also need to flip that east coast record around. The Bills need it because they are in a division with the Patriots and the Jets, two perennial playoff powerhouses, so they need to win a majority of their out of division games if they want to make a run in 2011.

The debut of the Boss

Despite being on the “questionable” list for Sunday’s game, Kevin Boss says that he will play in the contest. Boss was a primary target of Jason Campbell in the Raiders’ passing offense prior to his injury in week two of the preseason. Boss is a substantial upgrade over Brandon Meyers when it comes to route running, catching, and attacking the ball at its highest point. There was a play in the game on Monday night where it was third-down-and-eight and Campbell lofted one to Meyers that just sailed by the third year tight end. At the time, the thought crossed my mind that Zach Miller would have found a way to catch that ball. Then I thought that Kevin Boss probably would have found a way to make that catch also and extend the Raiders’ drive.

Boss was a key addition to this team and is probably a half-inch taller than Miller, ten pounds heavier in spite of his listed weight, and about a half step faster. He is also a red zone match-up nightmare for the defense – a factor that is necessary for the Raiders to have success in that area of the field. Fans should be looking forward to seeing Boss mesh with Campbell this season in an Al Saunders/Hue Jackson offense, even if it starts with Boss not being at 100 percent.

Best run defense wins

While it isn’t set in stone, the team with the best rush defense on Sunday just might end up being the victor. Last year, the Bills were dead last in the league at stopping the run. After Sunday’s game against the run happy Kansas City Chiefs, they are 21st. The Raiders, on the other hand, were 29th last season and are at the top of the charts after week one against the pass happy Denver Broncos. As in their game against the Chiefs, the Bills are in for a match-up nightmare this week.

The Raiders, however, will be facing a much more difficult task this week when they try to shut down Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. To a great extent, Jackson is a lot like Darren McFadden in that he can pound, pound, pound an opposing defense and then use breakaway speed to finish a drive off. He is also a legit pass catcher out of the backfield. Many folks this week wanted to talk about how DMC was leading the league in rushing, but I don’t think anybody has mentioned that Fred Jackson is fifth with his 112 yards.

Certainly, whichever team can find the most success against the opponent’s ground game has a great shot at winning this game.

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