Bills-Raiders Preview

BY foxsports • December 17, 2014

Despite having guaranteed themselves their best finish in 10 years, the Buffalo Bills' hopes of ending the longest active playoff drought in the NFL are slim.

They'll at the very least need to knock off the Raiders in Oakland for the first time since 1966 to remain in contention for a wild-card spot Sunday.

The Bills (8-6) won 21-13 over Green Bay last Sunday, their third victory in four games to ensure them of their best record since going 9-7 in 2004. They still face an uphill climb to reach the postseason for the first time since 1999, however.

Buffalo ranks last among the nine AFC teams with eight or more wins due to tiebreakers, owning a 4-6 conference record and having lost to Kansas City and San Diego, which are also 8-6.

The Bills will also need to win next week at New England, where they've lost 13 in a row.

They aren't lacking confidence, however, after shutting down what had been the highest-scoring team in the league. Buffalo held Aaron Rodgers to 17-of-42 passing for 185 yards and two interceptions - both by Bacarri Rambo - for a career-worst 34.3 passer rating in Buffalo's 21-13 home win over Green Bay last week.

It marked the sixth time in seven games the Bills didn't surrender a passing TD, and they're ranked fifth in the NFL in pass defense at 210.1 yards allowed per game.

A week earlier, the Bills limited Peyton Manning to a 14-of-20 performance for 173 yards with two interceptions.

"We have to obviously continue to play like that but once we do that, now the mark is set," cornerback Corey Graham told the team's official website. "Now you got to expect that every week from everybody and that's what we got to do. We've got to make sure we're locked in and ready to go every week."

Buffalo's offense has been the problem, as it failed to get into the end zone against the Packers. The Bills, who scored on a safety, four Dan Carpenter field goals and Marcus Thigpen's 75-yard punt return, rank second to last in the league with 20 touchdowns in 49 red-zone possessions (40.8 percent).

Kyle Orton was 14 of 27 for 158 yards and an INT while being sacked three times. No wide receiver or tight end caught more than two passes.

"We've got to do a better job," coach Doug Marrone said. "We've got to protect better, got to run routes better, we've got to get a better rhythm."

Buffalo could get a spark from C.J. Spiller, who has been activated off injured reserve and is listed as probable to play for the first time since breaking his collarbone in Week 7.

Spiller ranks second among running backs with 5.0 yards per carry since entering the league in 2010.

"He's a guy who's made plays in the past," Marrone said. "Any time you can bring back someone who's a potential playmaker obviously helps."

The Raiders (2-12) fell apart in the third quarter of Sunday's 31-13 loss at Kansas City. They trailed 10-6 before a 4:42 span in which they surrendered three straight TDs, the second of which was set up by Derek Carr's fumbled snap.

Oakland was called for 10 penalties for 75 yards, and its 103 penalties are tied for eighth most in the NFL.

"You can't do those kind of things in any football game, but you certainly can't do those things when you're on the road and in an environment like that, and kind of feed their ego with false starts and with penalties and then turn it into a game that you have to throw the football as much as we had to throw the ball with that kind of pass rush," coach Tony Sparano said.

Carr was 27 of 56 for 222 yards and a touchdown while being sacked four times. He could again struggle to stay upright against Buffalo, which has a league-leading 49 sacks.

Carr has been better at home, throwing for 10 TDs with three interceptions over his last five games.

Buffalo continues to be vulnerable on the ground, giving up 5.0 yards per carry and 10 TDs over its last eight. Oakland rookie Latavius Murray ran 12 times for 59 yards in his first start last week and figures to see more opportunities.

The Bills had dropped six of seven in the series before winning the last two meetings, taking the most recent one 38-35 at home Sept. 18, 2011. Fred Jackson ran 15 times for 117 yards and two TDs.

Buffalo has lost nine of 10 on the road against the Raiders since its last victory in Oakland on Nov. 24, 1966. The Bills' only win in that span came in Los Angeles on Dec. 8, 1991.

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