As a result, Sunday’s interconference matchup at Ralph Wilson Stadium has the makings of a potential shootout, but the Bills will face a tall task trying to slow down Drew Brees(notes) and the unbeaten Saints’ high-powered attack.
New Orleans has looked virtually unstoppable in a pair of dominating victories. Following a 45-27 home win over Detroit in the season opener, the Saints blew out the Eagles 48-22 in Philadelphia last Sunday.
Brees has totaled 669 yards passing and nine touchdowns in the wins, completing 75 percent of his passes and easily leading the league with a 132.9 passer rating.
He needs just one touchdown pass against Buffalo to match the NFL record for the most in the first three games of a season, currently shared by Dan Marino (1984, 1986), Jim Kelly (1991), Brett Favre(notes) (1996) Drew Bledsoe(notes) (1997) and Tom Brady(notes) (2007). Of that group, only Marino in 1986 and Bledsoe failed to lead their team to the Super Bowl.
Brees, however, is keeping the early-season success in perspective.
“I’m having fun, but it’s only two games,” said Brees, who threw four touchdowns against Buffalo in 2005 while with San Diego. “It only gets tougher. The more you win, the more success you have, the more you have to battle. … You kind of have to make sure you stay humble and stay hungry.”
Should New Orleans (2-0) score 45 points, it would be the fourth team in the NFL to do so in three straight games, joining the 2007 Patriots, 1968 Browns and 1941 Bears.
It hasn’t only been Brees fueling the league’s top-scoring team. Running back Mike Bell(notes) has rushed for 229 yards and a touchdown, although he sprained the MCL in his right knee against the Eagles and will not play Sunday. Without him, Pierre Thomas(notes), Reggie Bush(notes) and Lynell Hamilton(notes) could all see action.
Devery Henderson(notes) ranks 10th in the league with 174 receiving yards, and Marques Colston(notes) racked up 98 and two TDs versus Philadelphia after Jeremy Shockey(notes) caught two of Brees’ six scoring strikes in Week 1.
“We just have the ability to spread it around to a lot of different guys and you never know who’s game it’s going to be,” Brees said. “Last week it was Shockey scoring two touchdowns. This week in Philly it was Marques and next week it will probably be somebody else.”
The Saints haven’t started a season 3-0 since 2006 - Brees’ first season in New Orleans - when they made a surprising run to the NFC Championship game.
They’ll face an intriguing opponent in Buffalo (1-1), which broke into the win column last Sunday thanks in part to its biggest offseason acquisition. Terrell Owens(notes) had a 43-yard scoring grab from Trent Edwards(notes) five minutes into the fourth quarter to help cap a 33-20 victory over Tampa Bay.
It was the mercurial Owens’ first touchdown in a Buffalo uniform, but he wasn’t around after the game to speak about his feat - he was unhappy about being questioned by some media members after refusing to talk following a season-opening 25-24 loss to New England.
Edwards, who threw two touchdowns for the second straight game, liked what he saw in Owens’ home debut.
“I was excited and he was excited,” he said. “I don’t really recall what was said, but I’m honestly hoping that that continues to happen. I think that’s why we have him.”
Edwards ranks fifth in the NFL with a 104.9 passer rating, orchestrating an offense that had struggled mightily in the preseason and seemed in turmoil after coordinator Turk Schonert was fired barely a week before the Bills’ opener.
Buffalo has been aided by an interception return for a touchdown in each of its two games, but its offense totaled 438 yards against the Buccaneers, including 218 on the ground - the team’s highest rushing total since Dec. 9, 2007.
The unit will have to make do without a pair of starters for the rest of the season. Tight end Derek Schouman(notes), who led the Bills with 62 receiving yards against Tampa Bay, injured his knee and was placed on injured reserve Tuesday along with right tackle Brad Butler(notes), who suffered a similar injury.
Fred Jackson(notes), however, looks as healthy as ever after rushing for 163 yards against the Bucs. He’ll have one more game as the definitive starter while Marshawn Lynch(notes) finishes serving a three-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Jackson’s 337 all-purpose yards through two games are fourth-most in Bills history behind Thurman Thomas (1991) and O.J. Simpson (1973 and 1975).
“I’m just trying to let them know that I’m another valuable weapon on this team and I want to be used as much as possible,” Jackson said. “That’s the No. 1 goal.”
New Orleans and Buffalo are meeting for the first time since the Saints posted a 19-7 home victory in 2005. It will also be New Orleans’ first visit to western New York since opening the 2001 campaign with a 24-6 triumph.