Redskins-Bills: The basics

Redskins-Bills: The basics
October 30, 2011, 8:24 am
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A look at the Redskins game vs. Buffalo Sunday in Toronto:

When: 4:05 p.m., Sunday.

Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto.

TV: FOX (Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman). Pre-game coverage on Comcast SportsNet begins at 3 p.m.

Radio: ESPN 980 AM, WWXX 94.3 FM, WWXT 92.7 FM (Larry Michael, Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff).

Records: Redskins 3-3, Bills 4-2.

Last week: The Redskins lost 33-20 at Carolina; Buffalo had its bye.
Line: Bills by 5.5.

Injuries: Redskins Out: WR Santana Moss (hand), LT Trent Williams (ankle), FB Mike Sellers (back). Questionable: CB DeAngelo Hall (hip), LB London Fletcher (hamstring), S O.J. Atogwe (knee), CB Phillip Buchanon (neckknee). Probable: QB Rex Grossman (illness), RT Jammal Brown (hip), S Reed Doughty (chest), WR Donte Stallworth (hamstring), CB Byron Westbrook (hamstring), CB Josh Wilson (hamstring). Bills Out: T Demetrius Bell (shoulder), T Chris Hairston (ankle), WR Donald Jones (ankle), LB Shawne Merriman (Achilles), CB Aaron Williams (chest), DT Kyle Williams (foot). Probable: LB Chris Kelsay (calf).
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH1. STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH
The Redskins 21 sacks are tied for most in the NFL; the Bills seven sacks allowed are the fewest in the league. Something has to give.

The statistical match-up is a wash but where the Redskins can and should take advantage is against Buffalos patchwork left side of the line. Kyle Levitre is the third starting left tackle (moving from left guard) and former Redskins draft pick flameout Chad Rinehart starts at left guard.

Fitzpatrick gets the ball out of his hands fast, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. I know hes really smart and he knows where hes going to throw it. The protection, they throw quickly.

2. WHO GETS THE CARRIES?
Tim Hightower was lost for the season last week and even though he wasnt likely to be the every-game No. 1 back, he does leave a void. The Redskins will now put their hopes on Roy Helu and Ryan Torain.

The Redskins are taking a slight gamble in that theyre expected to dress just the two tailbacks. (Darrel Young would the emergency No. 3).

The running back spot has been in flux all season Hightower led in snaps in Weeks 1-3, Torain in Weeks 5-6 and Helu last week. Now Torain and Helu get a larger shot.

I think both are good running backs, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. Helu is definitely our fastest guy. I think Torain and Hightower are similar whereas Helu is the change-of-pace speed guy. Ryan is a hard-nose runner.

3. REPLACING MOSS
Also injured last week was receiver Santana Moss, who departed in the first half with a broken hand and subsequent surgery that will keep him out 5-7 weeks. His absence robs the Redskins of their No. 1 receiver. So who steps up? Time to start guessing.

Jabar Gaffney and Anthony Armstrong are likely to be the top two in the pecking order, but the chatter around Redskin Park this week is that Niles Paul and Terrence Austin will get more playing time. Somebody needs to rise up and help the Redskins stretch the field vertically.

Theyll be able to contribute, veteran receiver Donte Stallworth said. Thats why theyre here. The coaches saw Anthony play here last year and do a nice job and Niles has stepped in as a rookie, which you dont see very many rookies do. The coaches have confidence in all of us.

4. CONTAINING FRED JACKSON
Jackson is averaging a shade over 100 yards rushing through six games, the primary reason why Buffalo is fourth in rushing offense.

Jackson is averaging a whopping 5.7 yards per carry and has six touchdowns. The Redskins have been woeful against the run the last two weeks. The Bills use more four-receiver sets than any team in the NFL but they arent afraid to run out of that formation, making it imperative the linebackers and safeties are sure tacklers.

Jackson is kind of by himself to me, Haslett said when asked to compare Jackson to another back. Hes really good running back, hes really, really good in protection, and he can go out and play wideout. He can do everything really well.

5. TAKE TWO FOR BECK
The Redskins, as much as they wont admit it, eased quarterback John Beck into the game last week, which became a luxury when Hightower had such a strong start. Against a Buffalo team averaging 31.3 points per game, a few of the chains need to come off today.

Dont be surprised if the Redskins look more diversified offensively, allowing Beck to do what he does best play action roll outs.

Having a real game cannot be simulated; the real game is live bullets, Beck said. Walking away from it, looking back and saying, OK, what can I pull from this? I can pull so much from that experience. You try to simulate the real game in practice but its difficult to get the full effect.

PICK: Bills 34-30.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com