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Fact or Fiction: Bigger threat? Offense or Defense



The Bills pose a bigger threat to the Giants offensively than they do defensively.

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JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - **If you look at the numbers, the Bills are actually a better ranked offensive team than they are a defensive team. Sometimes numbers lie. The Bills are a good offensive team, with a dual-threat quarterback, weapons outside and, most importantly, a running game that can pound the rock over and over again. But without a franchise level quarterback, I can't rate it ahead of the team's defense. We all know how disruptive Rex Ryan's schemes can be. Combine those with very talented defensive linemen and cornerbacks, and you get a playmaking defense than can take the ball away or make a play whenever they are on the field. A bad performance against New England really skewed their numbers but, to me, their defense is still more dangerous than their offense. Their eight takeaways should be all the evidence anyone needs. Injuries to LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins only make the answer easier.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -Maybe before three of their offensive starters were injured, I would have gone fact because the Bills do have the No. 3 scoring team in the NFL. But while they're giving up 400 yards per game through the air, the Bills are No. 1 against the run and led the NFL in sacks last season. This game will be decided up front. **>> OWA HOPEFUL FOR NFL DEBUT**LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -

Based on the statistics and rankings through the first three games this season, the Bills offense looks far more impressive than the defense.   Its offense ranks 11th overall, third in points per game, and first in rushing yards per contest, whereas the defense ranks 30th overall and 31st against the pass.  But those defensive numbers don't take into consideration the eye test and are skewed because of a very rough performance against the Patriots in Week 2 when Buffalo's defense surrendered 507 total yards and 40 points.  In fairness, New England's other two opponents also struggled to slow down Tom Brady and company (Steelers gave up 361 yards, 28 points in Week 1; Jaguars – 471 yards, 51 points in Week 3).  Outside of the Patriots game, the Bills defense has allowed just 28 total points, the unit ranks number one against the run, it has collected two sacks in each contest and has eight takeaways (tied for 3rd most in the league).  Buffalo's four starting defensive linemen have combined for ten Pro Bowl appearances and one of its starting corners, Ronald Darby, was just named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for September. The Bills' defense has also been consistent for each of the last three seasons.  In 2014, it ranked fourth overall and led the league in sacks, and in 2013, it ranked tenth overall and finished second in the league in sacks.  Based on the depth chart and Rex Ryan's aggressive approach, this unit poses a bigger threat to the Giants than an offense that has a lot of weapons but not nearly the same track record as the defense.

It is better to have the No. 1 rushing defense than the top rushing offense.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -If you can't stop the run on defense, you have virtually no chance of being any good on that side of the ball. Your offense never gets on the field and you lose a lot of football games. If you can't run offensively, it's a huge detriment but you can still have success if you have a great quarterback, good protection and weapons outside.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -These often go together for teams, but if I had to choose one, I want to know my offense can always get a yard on the ground when needed. With the top rushing game, you can control the clock and wear out defenses. That's how you finish games. 

The Bills have both the number one rushing offense and defense so they can certainly attest to the benefits of each, but I give the edge to the defense.  If you can stop the run, then you force the opposing offense to be one-dimensional and put additional pressure on the quarterback by setting up third-and-longs.  Case in point, Buffalo's third down defense ranks 13th in the NFL (40%).  Having the number one rushing defense also gives you the flexibility to take more chances in the secondary so that you can blitz and force turnovers.  If you showcase the top rushing offense, it helps you dominate time of possession and face manageable second and third downs, but if you have a reliable quarterback who protects the ball and makes good decisions, in a pass happy league, you can get away with struggles on the ground.  For example, New England and Denver rank 24th and 31st,  respectively, in rushing yards per game, yet both teams are off to 3-0 starts this season.

Bad weather impacts a team's offensive game plan.
Depends on the weather. A little rain or snow shouldn't affect anything. Really bad wind, on the other hand, can really hurt a down-the-field passing game. Cold shouldn't have much impact either, unless you start wandering into the single digits or negative temperatures. Do what you do best, and fight through the elements. Do not be a slave to them.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -Schmeelk and Medow would definitely have said fact if they were traveling to Buffalo in December. But since it's relatively mild in early October, they're being tough guys and forgetting that weather impacts games. It's just one of the countless variables that coaches plan for and adapt to throughout the course of the game, like when Bill Parcells chose to take the wind in the 1986 NFC Championship Game. You don't do that if weather has no effect. 

Some types of weather will certainly impact a team's game plan, but it's misleading to say all bad weather has the same impact.  Most offenses in the NFL can run and pass effectively in light rain and snow.  Even when the conditions become blizzard-like, that hasn't necessarily slowed down a team's offense.  In Week 14 of the 2013 season, two games were played in a significant snowstorm in Philadelphia (Lions-Eagles) and Baltimore (Vikings-Ravens).  In Philly, LeSean McCoy ran for a franchise record 217 yards, and in Baltimore, the Vikings and Ravens combined for six touchdowns in the fourth quarter.  Wind is probably the most disruptive factor, especially now, with the extra point moved back, and it also limits downfield passing.  Ball security is always an issue in bad weather but that doesn't mean it changes an offensive game plan.    

The AFC East is better now than it was in 2011 when the Giants last faced the division.
The Patriots are still awesome. The Bills will be better than the 6-10 record they had in 2011 due to improved quarterback play from Tyrod Taylor, a better defense and better coaching. The Jets should be around 8-8, but maybe slightly better depending on their quarterback situation and health. The Dolphins are a mystery right now. I thought they would be pretty good this year, but so far they have played borderline terrible football, and might be worse than the 6-10 they were back in 2011. Overall, I think the quality of the teams in the division is better.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - We're only three games in, but the AFC East is one of the best in the entire NFL. Boasting the reigning Super Bowl champion is a good start, but it's much deeper than that. It's the only division with three teams above .500.

In 2011, the Giants swept the AFC East, but there was still a big disparity between the Patriots and the rest of the division.  New England finished 13-3, while the rest of the division was .500 or worse (Jets 8-8, Bills and Dolphins 6-10).  Plus, that season Matt Moore was Miami's starting quarterback and the Bills and Patriots defenses finished in the bottom seven of the league.  This season, the gap has closed.  Buffalo's defense has drastically improved and now has a dual-threat quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, who is surrounded by plenty of playmakers, the Dolphins have Ryan Tannehill under center, and the Jets also have more weapons on offense between Chris Ivory, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.

Playmakers on Buffalo's first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike

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