There’s a first for everything, as they say. On Sunday, Mike McCarthy and the Packers look to get the franchise’s first ever victory in Buffalo. In what some consider Green Bay’s most difficult challenge left on the schedule, the Packers will square off against a 7-6 Bills team that must win to keep any realistic playoff hopes alive.
Jim Schwartz may not have had much success against the Packers as Lions head coach but is equipped with a talented set of defensive personnel in Buffalo that is capable of slowing down the Packer offense. The Bills defense ranks 5th versus the pass while leading the league in sacks, led by defensive ends Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes.
Williams is a known disruptor to opposing offenses while Hughes has seemingly resurrected his career in Buffalo after recording only five sacks in three seasons as a Colt. Both present challenges to Packers tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari, both of whom have had solid seasons thus far. The Packer interior O-line will also be tested by defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, who have combined for 15 sacks this season.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers get a familiar face in quarterback Kyle Orton, who beat Green Bay twice as a Bear. Orton has played mistake-free football this season, only throwing seven interceptions. The matchup isn’t ideal for the Packers defense, which has historically thrived on hasty and erratic play from opposing quarterbacks.
With C.J. Spiller on IR, the once-dominant Bills backfield has struggled to effectively run the ball, failing to record a single 100-yard rushing performance all season. The Packers will face the makeshift Fred Jackson-Anthony Dixon platoon, which was held to just 50 yards last week. The Packers have struggled mightily versus the run this season but have seemingly improved since the bye week, with opponents being forced to pass as they play from behind.
An unusually mild forecast for Buffalo on Sunday surely favors the Packers’ pass-heavy offense. However, if the Packer defense relies on Aaron Rodgers’ arm as crutch, the Bills just might be able to pull off an upset at home.