Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- The Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks will face off against one another on Sunday in a Week 15 matchup. But before we go through different things to watch for throughout the game, I wanted to use a little bit of this space to remember the victims of what transpired in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday.
Sports are unequivocally trivial when a tragedy like this rocks the nation to its very core. The immense devastation and pain felt by all those affected by the actions of the perpetrator are unfathomable. My heart goes out to every family member, friend, loved one and teacher that have to bear the brunt of the anguish brought on by such a sickening act. The events that transpired on December 14, 2012, and the innocent children as well as others that senselessly had their lives ripped away from them, will never, ever be forgotten. Thank you.
In wake of the tragedy, the NFL will go on as planned this weekend. And like the NFL, this preview must go on as well. On that note, let's take a look at 5 things to watch for:
1) Beast Mode's back
- Since leaving the Buffalo Bills via trade two years ago, Marshawn Lynch has become the stud running back many expected him to be when he was selected in the first round. Lynch has already clinched the best season of his career, rushing for 1,266 yards and nine touchdowns still with three games remaining. It's fair to expect Lynch will be a bit more charged up for the game against his former teammates. The Bills have been much more competent at stopping the run lately, but Lynch and his solid group of blockers in front of him may open up holes that we haven't seen the Bills give up over the course of the past six weeks.
2) Banged up Seahawks secondary
- Heading in to the game, the Seahawks will be without three of their top four cornerbacks. Normal starter Brandon Browner is suspended, while Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant have each been ruled out with an injury. That leaves top cornerback Richard Sherman along with Byron Maxwell to be the ones that defend against Stevie Johnson and company. It might induce the Bills to throw a bit more than expected to attempt to exploit that weakness, especially considering they'll be under the controlled atmosphere of the Rogers Centre.
3) The Spiller Show
- When Fred Jackson was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve, C.J. Spiller once again will see his time on the field, as well as total touches, increase over the course of the final three games. Following a conversation between head coach Chan Gailey and Spiller regarding the coach's comments on the running back getting winded, it appears as though the third-year player will get the ball as much as he can handle. It's a tough matchup for Spiller, however. Behind an offensive line that struggled with two new starters last week, this week they'll be going against one of the best defensive lines in all of football. It may not be the week for Spiller to shine.
4) Seahawks DL amongst league's best
- Speaking of that defensive line, they rotate numerous players in dependent on situations within the game. Starting defensive end Red Bryant is very good against the run, as are defensive tackles Alan Branch and Brandon Mebane. Right end Chris Clemons is the most versatile of the group, with rookie Bruce Irvin (8 sacks) and Jason Jones being sprinkled in to rush the passer in key situations. The defense has eye popping numbers. They allow only 15.5 points per game (2nd in NFL) and 301.7 total yards per game (3rd in NFL). It will be a tough task for a struggling Bills' offense to get started against Seattle.
5) Will Toronto be a home game?
- In the fifth year of the Toronto series, the Bills once again surrender a home game in December to the Rogers Centre. Some of the players will tell you it's a home game, others will tell you it's an away game, but they all land on a similar stance: it's way different from Ralph Wilson Stadium. I've been to three of the past four games, and the atmosphere has been stale to say the least. With such a diverse NFL fan base in Toronto, it's hard for either team to gain an advantage based on crowd support. It's a neutral-site contest in every sense of the term. I expect it to be no different on Sunday.
OUT: C Eric Wood (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Nick Barnett (knee), S Jairus Byrd (shin), DT Marcell Dareus (shoulder), DT Spencer Johnson (knee), CB Leodis McKelvin (groin), DE Mark Anderson (knee), G Andy Levitre (knee), CB Justin Rogers (foot), WR Donald Jones (calf)
PROBABLE: CB Ron Brooks (hip), TE Scott Chandler (groin), TE Lee Smith (knee), G Kraig Urbik (knee), LB Chris White (thumb), S Da'Norris Searcy (hand), HB C.J. Spiller (shoulder), CB Aaron Williams (knee), DE Mario Williams (wrist)
OUT: CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring), CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
PROBABLE: DE Red Bryant (foot), S Kam Chancellor (groin), WR Sidney Rice (foot), HB Marshawn Lynch (back/foot)
Prediction: Seahawks over Bills
- The Bills may have the defense to hold the Seattle offense for a little while, but the Buffalo offense have exhibited little signs of progress coupled with more signs of regression since the onset of the bye week. With such an imposing defensive front going against the Bills, it's hard for me to see them coming away with a victory.