The Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers are set to square off tomorrow morning. It's looking like a tough battle for the 49ers who are looking to spark some consistency. In anticipation of the matchup, Brian of Buffalo Rumblings and I have gotten together for a little cage match debate surrounding four of the game's key personnel matchups.
Which blogger - and by extension, which community - is right? Take a gander, gather your thoughts, and let's duke it out in a Bills/49ers blogger cage match.
MATCHUP #1: Bills C Duke Preston vs 49ers NT Aubrayo Franklin
Fooch: You could probably stick me at center and at worst the matchup would be a push. That term (push) is fitting because Aubrayo Franklin gets none. As big a guy as he is, his technique is simply insufficient as a starter. The nose tackle in the 3-4 needs to get some push off the snap to open up holes for the pass rushers. If the 49ers decide to stick with the 3-4 next season, I really would like to see them draft the big Alabama nose tackle, Terrence "Mount" Cody. The pass rush has been a huge weakness for the 49ers because it affects every aspect of the defense. As long as they aren't getting much form their nose tackle, it will remain a problem. Advantage: Bills
Brian Galliford: Fooch says that Franklin gets no push; I'll retaliate with the fact that Preston doesn't get push, either. This is the battle of the stoppable force and the moveable object, folks. I like the way that Buffalo has been running of late, so I feel comfortable with this matchup, but due to the mediocrity of these two players, I'm betting that both fan bases will be remarking how their respective guy will have just had their best game of the season after this one. Advantage: Bills
MATCHUP #2: 49ers CB Nate Clements vs Bills WR Lee Evans
Brian Galliford: There isn't a team this year that has given Evans single coverage - and he's still averaging nearly 20 yards per reception. He is, quite clearly, the best pure deep threat in the league. Lately, teams have tried to take Evans out of the game to force Buffalo to beat them elsewhere, but I can see things going differently this week with Nate coming back to Buffalo. If the Niners think that Nate can take Lee one-on-one all day, Evans is going to put up big numbers. I pray Nate is singled up on this guy, particularly early in the game. Advantage: Bills
Fooch: In a straight man-to-man battle, Clements would be able to contain Evans. He's shut down the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson and I think he can do the same with Evans. Clements had a bad day last week against the Cowboys, but a lot of his problems were in the support he was supposed to get from the safeties. If the 49ers coaches are smart (no sure bet), I would hope that they would realize Clements should just cover his man 1-on-1 and avoid any cutesy over the top help from Mark Roman or Michael Lewis. If they let Clements just cover his man straight up I think he'll be fine. The same can't be said for Walt Harris... Advantage: 49ers
MATCHUP #3: Bills LB Paul Posluszny vs 49ers RB Frank Gore
Fooch: Gore is coming off an ugly game against the Cowboys in which he was clearly frustrated with his role. Mike Singletary called this a "black and blue" game and I'd like to think this means a heavy dose of Gore. Gore is not one to have back-to-back poor performances, and I'd hope that standard holds. Part of the problem in the poor performances has been his offensive line. Gore can make things happen, but if the line gets no push at all, it makes life a lot more difficult. I think my prediction is based more on expecting an improved o-line performance. Advantage: 49ers
Brian Galliford: First thing's first - anybody who thinks that Posluszny has disappeared over the past couple of games is mistaken. With 9 tackles in the past two games, statistically, yes, he's been largely absent. But Cleveland spent a large amount of time getting blockers on Buffalo's best run defender, and Kansas City ran the ball a whopping 13 times. Poz is still Poz, folks. With that said, Buffalo's run defense is suddenly a concern again, and Gore is precisely the type of back that Buffalo struggles with most. Advantage: 49ers
MATCHUP #4: 49ers RG Chilo Rachal vs Bills DT Marcus Stroud
Brian Galliford: Stroud has really returned to form over the past three games, even though the Chiefs gashed Buffalo last week on the ground. He's back to his near-dominant form, and he's going to pose big problems for the vastly inexperienced, yet highly talented Rachal. Stroud should do well against the run, and when Shaun Hill drops back to pass, the Bills are going to run a lot of stunts in an attempt to get defenders clean past the rookie right guard. Advantage: Bills
Fooch: The 49ers inserted the rookie Rachal into the starting lineup this past week. Although he didn't get any penalties, Coach Singletary was quick to point out that he "played like a rookie." However, they're going to keep running him out there and get him acclimated to the league. Most people thought he came out too early after his junior season. Unfortunately, his mother and father have some medical issues and he felt he had to leave at the point he did. It's a shame, but he's shown that he's not completely out of his element. At the same time, a veteran like Stroud will prove a strong test for him. I'd imagine he'll struggle against a seasoned veteran like Stroud, but hopefully he'll show improvement over the course of the morning (well afternoon for you guys). Advantage: Bills
OK, Bills and 49ers fans. Respect is the name of the game, but trash talk is a must (unless, of course, you're too down on your team to get cocky). Who's right? Who's just a "homer"? Thanksgiving makes me forget about the coming weekend of football, but now it's Friday and time to get back into game shape. Let's hope the Bills loaded up on just a little bit too much tryptophan.