Note: This story was written by Bills 101 writer Richard Wade
With a record of 4-7, the Buffalo Bills are in last place of the American Football Conference East division. Despite that fact, the team is still alive in the race for the last playoff spot in the AFC. The annual, somewhat dreaded depending on which fan you ask, Toronto tilt is this coming Sunday. The Bills opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, are mired in a 2-9 season, far away from the preseason Super Bowl prediction by many pro football prognosticators.
The Bills have gone back and forth this season. Fans have become frustrated by the lack of consistency. EJ Manuel was gone for a few games, and the team failed to muster much of anything in his absence. The team has done one thing particularly well this season, and that is running the ball. The Bills rank 7th in the National Football League in rushing, at 134.1 yards per game. The Falcons on the other hand average only 74.7 yards per game, 31st in the NFL. Both teams are in the bottom half of the league against the run, the Bills at 22nd, and the Falcons at 27th overall.
A good sign for the Bills this week is the health of starting wide receiver Stevie Johnson. The charismatic Johnson missed the Bills win over the New York Jets in Week 12 with a groin injury. He is their most effective receiver, and the one who commands the most attention from opposing defenses. Another receiver, promising rookie Robert Woods is also expected back after missing the previous two games with a ankle injury.
The Falcons are a mess in every facet of the game. Quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown seven interceptions in the last five games, all Atlanta losses. While Buffalo has had its fair share of injuries, Atlanta has been decimated by them. Julio Jones is out for the season with a foot injury. The running game is non-existent for Atlanta. Steven Jackson is clearly past his days as a starting running back in the NFL.
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