In Week 5, the San Francisco 49ers (3-1) will host the Buffalo Bills (2-2) in what should make for an entertaining NFC vs. AFC battle. Coming off a two-game road trip where they went 1-1, the Niners are returning to Candlestick Park for their fifth match-up of 2012.
Both teams are tied near the top of their respective divisions, looking to get a crucial win in a close race. The 49ers are in second place, chasing the undefeated Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. Meanwhile, the Bills are tied for first in a very up and down AFC East division.
San Francisco and Buffalo could both greatly benefit from wins here. And anticipating the Cardinals finally drop a game, the 49ers could close the gap and tie for first in the division this weekend with a victory.
Regardless of their winning record in the first quarter of the season, the Bills should expect a hellacious effort by the Niners.
And leading this effort -- as per usual -- will be the 49ers top-shelf defense, likely to swarm the Bills' nonchalant, carefree approach on offense. The Niners already had an advantage in this match-up because of their defense, but recent injury news only made their edge more domineering.
The Bills will be without two starting linemen in left tackle Cordy Glenn and right guard Kraig Urbik; two quality offensive linemen.
With or without the services of Isaac Sopoaga (ankle, knee), San Francisco's defensive line should win a lot of downs against Buffalo's offensive front. Justin Smith, Ricky Jean-Francois and Ray McDonald are a threatening trio coming out of the Niners' base defense.
Also, when the 49ers come out with their four down linemen (Ald. Smith, J. Smith, R. McDonald and A. Brooks), the Bills could be in serious trouble when it comes to edge pressure. With Glenn sidelined, Aldon Smith could provide constant problems for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo offense, especially with how much they like to throw.
The 49ers D could be in for a good day against the run and the pass.
There's a good chance that the Niners defensive line knocks the Bills off the ball for 4 quarters. With Glenn and Urbik expected to be scratches, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith and Ahmad Brooks could each have a heavy advantage. Smith and Smith will be attacking from that right side, no matter what defensive package they're in.
And time and time again, we've seen Brooks work the right tackle and beat him inside. With the right guard position questionable, the Bills' right tackle won't have that kind of help and is susceptible to Brooks' mercy. It would not surprise me in the least to hear No. 55 called a few times on Sunday.
In order for this to reveal itself as a mismatch, San Francisco's defense just needs to show up, play their game and set the tone. For this unit, it starts up front with the performance of the line -- and they are in a position to take this game over from there and put the chokehold on the Bills.