Week 5: Buffalo Bills At San Francisco 49ers
- QuarterbackRyan Fitzpatrick has a hard time containing himself once he makes a mistake or two. He threw four interceptions against the Patriots and his inability to remain in control allowed the Patriots to blow the Bills out in the second half. When he’s on his game, Fitzpatrick is an accurate passer who understands what the defense wants to do.Alex Smith is not going to rank with the league leaders in yardage or touchdowns, but he has a great rapport with tight end Vernon Davis and head coach Jim Harbaugh. Smith is athletic, reads defenses well and will not turn the ball over. He’s not spectacular, but he is a solid leader and a winner.
- OffenseThe Bills can be quite explosive on offense, but that can lead to problems. Once Fitzpatrick hits one or two big plays to wide receiver Stevie Johnson, the Bills go from versatile and balanced offense to one that risks ball security for the opportunity to make big plays. That rarely works for them. The running attack of C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice will be under duress against the Niners.The Niners have one of the most honest running backs in the league in Frank Gore. No, we’re not saying he’s always going to tell the truth – although we have no reason to doubt him – but he sells out on every play. He should exploit the Buffalo run defense for a minimum of 150 yards. Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree are solid receiving threats.
- DefenseThe Bills have to get a pass rush from defensive end Mario Williams or they will get overrun the way they did against the Pats in Week Four. Williams tends to run hot and cold and the Bills need him to be much more consistent. Linebacker Nick Barnett is a solid tackler.The Niners got pushed around by the Vikings in Week Three and took it out on the Jets in Week Four. The Niners know that outside linebacker Aldon Smith will pressure opposing quarterbacks. He had four tackles and two sacks against the Jets. Patrick Willis had a 10-tackle effort in that game.
- Special TeamsThe Bills depend on Rian Lindell to finish drives when Fitzpatrick can’t negotiate them into the endzone. He’s a consistent kicker with solid leg strength. Shawn Powell has replaced veteran Brian Moorman at the punting slot and he averaged 41.8 yards against New England.David Akers had a tough game against the Jets, missing 2-of-4 FG attempts. Andy Lee averaged 46.0 yards on four punts and dropped two of them inside the 20.
The 49ers are happy to be back home after a two-week trip to Minnesota and the New York Jets. Look for the Niners to establish their running game since the Bills can’t stop the run. If the Bills turn the ball over as they did against the Pats, the Niners could be up four touchdowns at halftime.