With three games remaining in the regular season, the Seattle Seahawks not only have a chance to make the playoffs, but could still win the NFC West. If that is going to happen, they will likely need to pick up a road win against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Seattle is just 2-5 on the road this season, but the five losses are by a combined 24 points.
The Bills are technically still alive in the AFC playoff picture, but Buffalo would need to win its final three games and get a lot of help. Sunday's game in Toronto will be the fifth straight season the Bills have played a home game in the Rogers Centre. The Bills are just 1-3 in regular season games played in Toronto, but won, 23-0, last season.
Meet the Bills
After starting the season 3-3, the Bills have struggled since, dropping out of the playoff picture. Buffalo is 2-5 in its last seven games, including a 15-12 loss to the St. Louis Rams last week. Defense has been the biggest issue for Buffalo. The Bills are 5-1 when they allow 19 or fewer points, but are 0-7 when allowing 20 or more.
On offense, Buffalo has had most of its success running the ball. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson split carries much of the season, but with Jackson now on injured reserve, Spiller is expected to receive a larger workload. Spiller has rushed for 944 yards this season while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. He will face a tough test going against a Seahawks team allowing just 105.4 rushing yards per game.
Meet the Seahawks
The Seahawks are coming off a 58-0 win against the Arizona Cardinals, but going on the road has proved to be a challenge. Seattle is 6-0 at home, but just 2-5 on the road. Seattle did, however, win their last road game, knocking off the Chicago Bears, 23-17. Seattle controls its playoff destiny and would clinch at least the No. 5 seed in the NFC if they are able to win out.
While rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has played well recently, Seattle relies on a strong running game and stingy defense. The Seahawks, led by former Bill Marshawn Lynch, rank fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Lynch is second in the NFL with 1,266 rushing yards. Seattle's defense allows the second fewest points with opponents averaging just 15.5 points per game this season.
Local Takes: Bills
While the Bills have had issues on defense, there have been some positive signs recently, as Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings noted.
Buffalo Bills fans are currently grasping for straws of optimism in the wake of yet another disappointing season, brought to an abrupt conclusion by a horrifying loss. For most, the improvements the team has made defensively since their Week 8 bye is the first straw grasped.
Local Takes: Seahawks
The Seahawks had one of the top rushing defenses early in the season, but have struggled some lately. Danny Kelly of Field Gulls, took a closer look at some of Seattle's recent struggles.
Obviously, this is just one anecdote. But I do think it illustrates the most basic tenet that in the pros, along with sound schemes and disciplined players executing those schemes, you sometimes just need your players to beat the guys across from them. I think the Seahawks just got beaten a few too many times against Miami, but they cleaned up some things against the Bears and were essentially air tight against the Cardinals. It's something to watch.
Follow the Fun
Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Buffalo Rumblings and Field Gulls, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
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Here's the latest episode of the Buffalo Rumblings Podcast: sbn.to/VRjHKI— Buffalo Rumblings (@BuffRumblings) December 11, 2012
By accounts, John Schneider's two 'guys' since he's been here - the two he absolutely had to have -- Marshawn Lynch & Russell Wilson— Danny Kelly (@FieldGulls) December 12, 2012
@pjscribe - Bills beat writer
@dannyoneil - Seahawks beat writer
The Seahawks are going to be a 10-game winner and make the playoffs. They will go on the road and beat the Bills this weekend, and then beat the Rams in the season finale in two weeks. Russell Wilson for president.
The pick: 26-20, Seahawks
The Seahawks opened as a 3-point favorite and are as high as a 6-point favorite, according to the odds from Odds Shark.com
The Bills will go on the road for the final time next week to face the Miami Dolphins. The Seahawks will return home for a huge game against the San Francisco 49ers. Depending on the results this week, the NFC West title could be on the line in that game.