Eagles Opposition Report: Bills Defense

Eagles Opposition Report: Bills Defense

If you like shootouts, Sunday's contest between the Birds and the Bills could be the game for you. By any measure, Buffalo's defense is near the bottom in the NFL, most notably surrendering the sixth highest number of yards in the league. They don't do anything particularly great, so in theory, the Eagles should be able to score some points.

LDE Marcell Dareus
Not so fast though. The Bills finally operate out of a 3-4 after a failed attempt to convert to the system last season, and Dareus is the primary reason why they were able to make the move this time. The third overall pick out of Alabama, Dareus gives the defense another big body that can control the line of scrimmage, which they needed desperately. At 6-3, 340, he already commands double teams from the offensive line, and he can play either end or nose. Needless to say, Danny Watkins will have his hands full in his first career start.

NT Kyle Williams
Dareus joins the disruptive Williams, who essentially held the interior of Buffalo's front together on his own. A Pro Bowler in each of the past two seasons, Williams is an adept run defender who puts up silly tackle numbers for a lineman. The sixth-year veteran will utilize his ability to penetrate and occasionally pressure opposing quarterbacks as well, last season racking up a career best 5.5 sacks. We've noticed Jason Kelce has been getting blown off the ball in some key short yardage situations, and while Williams has only average size for a nose tackle (6-1, 301), he could easily give the rookie center fits this week.

ILB Nick Barnett
Barnett is an active linebacker who is more than capable of cleaning up whatever scraps are left over after Dareus and Williams are finished. He spent the previous eight seasons in Green Bay, but couldn't finish two of the last three because of injury, and found himself out of a job. He's still got some years left in the tank, but isn't a big time playmaker the offense will have to game plan around.

ROLB Shawne Merriman
The Eagles will catch a slight break on Sunday, as Chris Kelsay will miss the game with a calf injury, leaving Merriman as the Bills' only proven pass rusher. Of course, proven would only be an apt term if this were 2007, the last time Merriman showed any evidence of being able to get after the passer himself.

Injuries have worn down the man once known as "Lights Out." After exploding on to the scene with 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons with the Chargers, he has just five in the last four seasons, playing in only 22 games. Even when he's healthy, the burst that made him such a dangerous player coming off the edge is gone, and it's never coming back. Merriman might pull some wily veteran tricks out of the bag to beat King Dunlap a few times, as he will be starting in place of the injured Jason Peters, but at this stage, whoever is out there should be able to contain number 53.

CB Leodis McKelvin
Selected 11th overall in 2008, McKelvin hasn't developed into the shutdown corner Buffalo had hoped. To be fair, his second season was derailed by a broken bone in his leg, and he may have been spent last season trying to get back up to speed, but a pair of interceptions in 2010 is not the productivity they were searching for. McKelvin is still a threat to take one to the house when he gets his hands on the ball, but he's not going to eliminate one side of the field or anything like that.

CB Drayton Florence
Florence is a crafty veteran who just sticks wherever he goes. A second round pick of the Chargers in '03, Sunday will mark his 85th start over a nine-year career. He already has two picks on the season, so even though he'll be 31 in December, the offense has to respect his talent.

FS Jairus Byrd
It's hard to say what the Bills have with Byrd, as you would have a difficult time finding a much more uneven start to a career. As a rookie in '09, Byrd intercepted nine passes and earned an invite to Honolulu. Last season, he picked just one in what Football Outsiders described as a "miserable sophomore campaign." The truth is the huge total he posted as a first-year player was in part fueled by some lucky breaks, and he's not likely to sniff that number again. His coverage abilities undoubtedly will be tested by DeSean Jackson several times in this contest, so we'll soon see for ourselves if Byrd is the real deal, or if he is merely that one statistic.

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook became the first player with five consecutive triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 101-92 on Sunday night.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. The Thunder have won all five games during Westbrook's triple-double stretch. It was Westbrook's 10th triple-double of the season and the 47th of his career.

Enes Kanter had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Victor Oladipo added 15 points for the Thunder.

Anthony Davis, the NBA's leading scorer, had 37 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans. Buddy Hield, who led nearby Oklahoma to the Final Four last season, scored 16 points in his first game back in the state (see full recap).

Rose, Anthony help Knicks hold off Kings
NEW YORK -- Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony each scored 20 points and the New York Knicks held off the Sacramento Kings 106-98 on Sunday night for their eighth win in 11 games.

The Knicks took a 21-point lead in the first half, gave up 18 consecutive points in the third quarter but outplayed the Kings down the stretch to win their third straight overall and improve to 9-3 at home.

Brandon Jennings added 19 points for New York and Kristaps Porzingis finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

DeMarcus Cousins had 36 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, but shot just 9 for 30 and looked fatigued while struggling late while playing the entire second half (see full recap).

Ibaka's big night leads Magic past Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Serge Ibaka scored 21 points and blocked four shots, helping the Orlando Magic beat the Detroit Pistons 98-92 on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Magic.

Pistons guard Reggie Jackson made his season debut after missing Detroit's first 21 games with knee tendinitis. He had 18 points in 23 minutes. Marcus Morris led Detroit with 21 points.

Orlando won for the third time in four games while Detroit had its three-game winning streak snapped.

On Jackson's first possession, the Pistons went to their bread-and-butter play -- he and Andre Drummond running a high pick and roll. Jackson came off the screen and hit a 3-pointer, bringing a cheer from the small crowd. Jackson played the first 5:50 of the quarter as Detroit built a 16-10 lead (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Byron scored the clinching goal in the fourth round of the shootout, and the Montreal Canadiens avoided a winless swing through California with a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist for the Canadiens, who won for just the second time in seven road games. Montreal had only one win in its previous 11 games in California before scoring three times in the four-round shootout.

Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw also scored and Carey Price made 27 saves for the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens.

Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist apiece for the Kings, who lost for only the second time in eight games. Peter Budaj stopped 26 shots (see full recap).

DeKeyser gives Red Wings OT win over Isles
NEW YORK -- Danny DeKeyser scored 1:02 into overtime to give Detroit a victory over New York.

Mike Green scored twice and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and assist for Detroit, which improved to 4-1-2 in its last seven games. Peter Mrazek stopped 32 shots to improve to 3-0-2 in his past five starts.

Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk and Josh Bailey scored for New York, which had won a season-high three straight. Jaroslav Halak finished with 30 saves.

Detroit's Frans Nielsen had an assist while facing his former team for the first time since leaving the Islanders for a six-year, $31.5 million deal with the Red Wings last summer. The 32-year-old Danish center was selected by the Islanders in the third round of the 2002 draft and had 119 goals and 230 assists over 10 seasons in New York (see full recap).

Late goal lifts Jets over Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- Andrew Copp scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:45 left, Bryan Little got his third goal in three games and Winnipeg edged Chicago.

Copp beat Scott Darling on the stick side with a shot from the right circle that slipped just inside the left post.

Chicago's Artemi Panarin scored with 6:54 remaining to tie it at 1, moments after Copp hit the post, to spoil Connor Hellebuyck's bid for a second shutout against Chicago in less than a month. Panarin completed a give-and-go with Patrick Kane, beating Hellebuyck to the glove side.

Hellebuyck finished with 25 saves and outdueled Darling, who started his second straight game for the Blackhawks in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford. Darling made 30 saves, including three on breakaways.

Little's power-play goal with 43.4 seconds left in the second period was his fourth point in four games since missing 23 with a lower-body injury (see full recap)