The San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills square off at New Era Field in Buffalo this Sunday. We took a few minutes to chat with Chris Trapasso from Buffalo Rumblings to talk about his Bills. The team stumbled out of the gates, but has looked very solid in winning three straight games. He talked about what has changed, what to make of the run game, and some strengths and weaknesses of the Bills’ defense.
Niners Nation: What has changed over these last three games (wins) compared to the first two games (losses)?
Buffalo Rumblings: The biggest change has been the emphasis on the short passing game, which Tyrod has operated well and has kept the chains moving. It's had an enormous ripple effect on the entire team. Buffalo's defense has gotten more rest, the run game has improved and the Bills have been able to wear down the opposition throughout the course of the game.
NN: What exactly do Bills fans make of Rex Ryan in year two? He's obviously a big personality, but what do you see in him as a coach?
BR: It's been an insane roller-coaster with how the Bills fans feel about Rex. When he was hired, there was Rex Mania in Western New York after years of disliking him as the Jets head coach. As the 2015 wore on, fans *really* turned on him, and going into this year there wasn't nearly as much excitement regarding him. Two games into 2016, and many fans wanted him fired, especially considering he was instrumental in offensive coordinator Greg Roman being let go. Now, with the Bills riding a three-game winning streak, the perception of Rex is, unsurprisingly, getting significantly better.
NN: LeSean McCoy dominated against Arizona and LA, but has averaged under four yards per carry in the other three games. What do we make of Shady?
BR: He's been tremendous all season. The blocking has improved each week, which has helped his yards-per-carry average. Even in the first two games, he made a handful of defenders miss in the run and pass game.
NN: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Bills defense?
BR: The weakness is probably its defensive line, which a year ago had Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams (for five games) and Jerry Hughes. This year, there are times when Leger Douzable, Corbin Bryant and Lerentee McCray have represented the team's three-man rush. However, Rex and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman have done a fine job rotating everyone and keeping 33-year-old Kyle Williams fresh. Also, Lorenzo Alexander has been remarkable as a situational front-seven defender.
NN: What will it take for the Bills to win this game? What would have happened if the Bills find themselves on the wrong side of an upset?
BR: If Buffalo can get a lead and lean on the run game, they should be able to beat San Francisco. Thus far they've been very good in the turnover differential department (+9 heading into this game, which is the second-best in football), but if they turn it over a few times, they could be in trouble.