Bills vs. Saints 2013 game preview: Drew Brees and the Saints return home

New Orleans hasn't played a home game since September, but the Saints will be back in the Superdome on Sunday, hosting the Buffalo Bills.

Coming off their first loss of the season, the New Orleans Saints are fresh off a bye week and back at home for a matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

Having played back-to-back road games before the bye week, New Orleans has not played a home game since Week 4. Sunday's game against Buffalo is their second straight against a team from the AFC East, and the New York Jets are on the schedule next week.

The Bills will be on the road for a second straight week and are coming off a 23-21 win against Miami. Buffalo has played several close games this season, with three of its four losses coming by a combined 12 points. The 37-24 loss in Week 5 is the one game this season that hasn't been decided by seven points or less.

New Orleans has had the advantage recently, going 3-0 against the Bills since 2001.

Meet the Saints

Their Week 6 loss to New England may have dropped the Saints from the ranks of the undefeated, but New Orleans is still a contender for the best team in the NFC. After Sunday's game against the Bills, New Orleans will face four straight teams currently with a winning record, including huge NFC matchups against San Francisco and Seattle.

Drew Brees and the Saints' passing game leads the way. New Orleans is second in the NFL in passing yards and fifth in the league in yards per attempt. The aerial attack is a big reason why New Orleans is sixth in the NFL in scoring offense. It has struggled to run the ball this season, ranking 28th in the NFL with 3.4 yards per rush. Rookie Khiry Robinson has been a pleasant surprise and is averaging 5.3 yards per attempt in limited action.

Defensively, New Orleans is considerably improved from last season. The Saints are ninth against the pass and fourth in scoring defense. They have allowed more than 18 points in a game just once this season.

Meet the Bills

Injuries have taken their toll on the Bills, but Buffalo continues to play hard in every game this season. With three close losses coming down to the wire, the Bills are just a few plays away from possibly being 6-1. At the same time, Buffalo's three wins have come by a total of six points, so it isn't far from being 0-7 either.

The Bills will once again be without quarterback E.J. Manuel, who remains out with a knee injury. Thad Lewis will start in his place. Buffalo is fifth in the NFL in rushing yards, despite Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller both being hobbled by injuries. Steve Johnson leads the team in receiving while also playing through injuries.

Buffalo ranks in the bottom third in most defensive categories, but the Bills do have talent on defense. Defensive end Mario Williams is second in the NFL in sacks with 10.0, while linebacker Kiko Alonso is third in the league in tackles.

Local Takes: New Orleans

Jimmy Graham is battling a foot injury, a serious issue for the New Orleans, especially with how often Brees throws to Graham. Jon Oliver of Canal Street Chronicles questioned whether Brees targets Graham too often.

Jimmy Graham has been the favorite target for Drew Brees in four of the six games they have played thus far, and has been targeted on 59 (25%) of Drew's 237 passes. Graham has caught 37 (63%) of those 59 targets, while Brees has completed 120 (67%) of his 178 passes to other players this season.

Local Takes: Buffalo

Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings broke down some of Mario Williams' success in what is shaping up to be a monster season:

Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams is in his eighth NFL season, and he's well on his way to not only his best statistical season, but perhaps one of the most productive seasons from a pass rusher that we've seen in Buffalo - or maybe even in the NFL - in quite some time.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Canal Street Chronicles and Buffalo Rumblings, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@SaintsCSC

@BuffRumblings

@MicklesAdvocate - Saints beat writer

@mikerodak - Bills beat writer

Prediction

Regardless of the opponent, Buffalo seems to play close games. It played New England close in Week 1 and Cincinnati close in Week 6, two of the better teams in the AFC. Even with their injury situation, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Bills play the Saints close also.

New Orleans, however, has a few advantages on its side and is the better team overall. Playing at home should also be a boost. Those factors should be enough for New Orleans to come away with a win in a game that could stay close into the fourth quarter.

Saints 34-24

Odds

New Orleans opened as an 11.5-point favorite, with the line growing to 13 points, according to OddsShark.com. Both teams have fared well against the spread this season, with Buffalo going 5-2 and New Orleans 4-2.

Next Week

Buffalo will have another tough matchup next week when it hosts 7-0 Kansas City.

New Orleans will play its fourth road game of the year, traveling to New York to take on the Jets.

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