The only time New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has ever faced the Buffalo Bills, he walked out of Ralph Wilson Stadium looking painfully average. While the Saints used a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away with a 27-7 win that day in September of 2009, Brees suffered through one of the more mediocre performances of his career, throwing for just 172 yards -- which snapped a 22-game streak of at least 200 yards passing -- and no touchdowns.
Looking at the numbers, it's hard to expect a similar result this Sunday as the Saints host the Bills in the Superdome. The Bills have the league's 21st-ranked pass defense and are giving up 257 yards through the air per game, while the typically high-flying Saints come in averaging 311 passing yards per contest. Brees has gone over the 300-yard mark in four of his six games this season and is tied for fifth in the NFL with 14 touchdown passes, though he could be without his top target, Jimmy Graham, on Sunday.
The Bills' best chance to corral Brees will be through their dominant pass rush, which ranks fourth in the league with 23 sacks. Defensive end Mario Williams is proving he may be worth his historic $100 million contract, piling up 10 sacks before the season's halfway mark. He failed to get to Brees in his last matchup with the Saints as a Texan in 2011, but the 2013 version of Williams is a different beast altogether. He and the rest of the Bills' defensive front will have to fight through a New Orleans offensive line that has allowed the seventh fewest sacks in the league.
An even more important key to limiting the Saints offense may be the Bills' ground attack. Behind the duo of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, Buffalo is averaging over 140 rushing yards per game and will be facing the league's 22nd ranked run defense on Sunday. If they can keep the chains and the clock moving by pounding the ball on the ground, they'll be able to keep the ball out of Brees's hands. With Spiller hobbled by a nagging ankle injury and questionable to take the field, however, they may have to do it without their leading rusher.