Week 14: Rams-Bills preview

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

St. Louis at Buffalo
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y. - TV: FOX; DirecTV: 704
*TV announcers: Ron Pitts, Mike Martz, Krista Voda
*Keys to the game: Bills head coach Chan Gailey has been hammering on the importance of improving fundamentals - he feels "a batted pass here or a drop there" are the little things that have held Buffalo's development back too often this season. Few coaches call for as many screens as Gailey, and opposing defenses know they're coming in abundance. The onus is on the Bills' running backs and receivers to get off the jams St. Louis will attempt to use to disrupt the timing of the screens. The Rams' defense did a good job of containing the 49ers' ground game on first and second down last week, and faces another dynamic rushing attack in Buffalo. St. Louis' offense lacks consistency, but the emergence of rookie WR Chris Givens gives QB Sam Bradford a playmaking presence downfield, and Danny Amendola could return from his foot injury.
*Matchup to watch - Rams defense vs. Bills' red-zone offense: Buffalo tends to get pass-happy in the red zone and suffers negative plays as a result that have haunted the Bills in several close losses. Gailey wants to be more balanced near the goal line to prevent QB Ryan Fitzpatrick from forcing the ball into defenses dropping eight defenders in coverage. The Catch-22 is negative plays in the running game inside the 20 have led to sacks and interceptions.
*Player spotlight - Bills DL Spencer Johnson: Johnson's versatility has been a saving grace for Buffalo. He can play inside or outside, and has been important in the end rotation with Chris Kelsay and Mark Anderson battling injuries.
*Fast facts: Fitzpatrick has a 58.5 fourth-quarter passer rating this season in games within seven points. Bradford has a 119.7 rating in the same situation.
The temperature is Buffalo's best home-field advantage at this point in the season as the team struggles to sell out home games down the stretch. But that bitter cold is enough of an edge against a dome team also playing out the string.
*Our pick: Bills 23-20

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