Buffalo, NY - The Buffalo Bills have some swagger back on offense, but now they need to keep it going in order to boost their playoff hopes. That shouldn't be much of a problem against the lowly San Francisco 49ers.
After snapping a four-game losing streak with their best offensive performance of the season, the Bills look to take advantage of a porous 49ers defense when the teams meet Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Bills –6.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Thursday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Bills –6.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Buffalo's skid put it in danger of falling out of the playoff hunt, but it's too early to count out the Bills (6-5) in their bid to end an eight-season playoff drought. With a 54-31 win at Kansas City last Sunday, Buffalo got a much-needed morale boost.
"We know the position that we're in," wide receiver Josh Reed said. "It's going to be tough, but the positive is that we still have a chance and we're still right there. We know what we have to do."
Everything started to click against the Chiefs after a month in which little went right for the Bills, who matched the number of points produced in their previous three games combined.
"Everybody is feeling a little better about themselves," coach Dick Jauron said. "Instead of the gloom in the locker room after the game, the guys were very happy. It just changes everything. It changes your outlook."
Trent Edwards was at the forefront of the Bills' breakout game, going 24-of-32 for 273 yards with a pair of passing and rushing touchdowns to produce a career-best 121.0 quarterback rating.
Edwards' confidence was teetering during Buffalo's skid, throwing eight interceptions, losing two fumbles and giving up a safety. During the Bills' 5-1 start, Edwards was picked off twice.
Against Kansas City, Edwards re-established a connection with top receiver Lee Evans, who had five catches for 110 yards a week after being shut out in a 29-27 loss to Cleveland. Evans, one of the league's top deep threats, was held to six catches for 63 yards in his previous three games.
Evans is averaging 19.3 yards per reception with a long of 87.
San Francisco (3-8) couldn't stop Terrell Owens from coming up with big plays in a 35-22 loss to Dallas last Sunday. Owens had seven catches for 213 yards, including a 75-yard score.
It was the sixth time that the 49ers have given up 30 points or more this season, and the third loss in four games under interim coach Mike Singletary. They're ranked 29th in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 28.2 points a contest.
San Francisco's pass rush did little to disrupt Tony Romo. While the 49ers are 24th in the league with 19 sacks, Buffalo hasn't allowed one in its last two games.
Singletary is ready to give more playing time to linebacker Manny Lawson in an attempt to give the 49ers' defense a boost. The third-year pro has shown athleticism in limited recent action.
"He's had to work toward that," Singletary said. "It's not like Manny has been doing great all year, and all of a sudden, 'Why isn't he playing?' We're trying to get him on the field. The last three weeks or so, he's really been coming on. You can see the confidence."
Lawson missed the final 14 games of last season with a torn ligament in his left knee, and he strained his hamstring last month.
With San Francisco guaranteed to finish its sixth straight season without a winning record, Singletary realizes he has limited time to make changes. He believes the team's margin for error is small mainly because of a lack of talent.
Though Nate Clements - who spent his first six seasons with the Bills before signing an $80 million free-agent deal with the 49ers - received much of the blame from Singletary for San Francisco's inability to cover Owens, it's unlikely he'll be benched any time soon.
Buffalo got a breakout game from promising young cornerback Leodis McKelvin against Kansas City. The Bills' first-round pick had two interceptions, including a 64-yard return for a TD in his second career start, playing in place of Jabari Greer (knee injury).
McKelvin has scored in consecutive games after returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against the Browns.
This will be the first meeting between the Bills and 49ers since Dec. 26, 2004, when Buffalo won 41-7 at San Francisco.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
BUFFALO is 4-1 against the spread versus SAN FRANCISCO since 1992
BUFFALO is 3-2 straight up against SAN FRANCISCO since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period
All games played at BUFFALO since 1992
BUFFALO is 1-0 against the spread versus SAN FRANCISCO since 1992
BUFFALO is 1-0 straight up against SAN FRANCISCO since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[QB] Alex Smith IR - Shoulder - 09/07/08
[CB] Shawntae Spencer IR - Knee - 09/24/08
[WR] Arnaz Battle missed last game, "?" - Foot - 11/16/08
[OL] Barry Sims missed last game, "?" - Leg - 11/16/08
[S] Dashon Goldson missed last game, "?" - Knee - 11/16/08
[WR] Josh Morgan missed last game, "?" - Groin - 11/16/08
[FB] Zak Keasey IR - Bicep - 10/13/08
[LB] Alvin Bowen is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Undisclosed - 11/08/08
[LB] John DiGiorgio IR - Knee - 10/20/08
[CB] Ashton Youboty IR - Foot - 11/07/08
[SS] Donte Whitner is "?". - Shoulder - 11/18/08
[DE] Aaron Schobel is out at least 4 weeks. - Foot - 11/04/08
[LB] Angelo Crowell IR - Knee - 09/04/08
[WR] Josh Reed is out indefinitely. - Ankle - 10/27/08
[CB] Jabari Greer injured last game, "?" - Knee - 11/18/08
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Posted: 11/25/08 8:28PM ET