The Buffalo Bills' Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. AP Photo
The Oakland Raiders travel to the East Coast in Week 2 regular season action to take on the AFC Eastern Division's Buffalo Bills. The Raiders head into Buffalo with a 1-0 record and look to build on their success from Week 1 against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. Because of the Monday night game and a Friday flight, the Raiders have had a short week of preparation. "Prepare, rest, and prepare," said Head Coach Hue Jackson. "We have another mission and our mission is Buffalo. They're coming off of a huge win and it's going to be their home opener, no different then [Monday] night. They're going to take their best shot and we have to be ready to go."
The Raiders travel for the second week in a row and are preparing for a Bills team that beat reigning AFC West champions Kansas City Chiefs. "They're a young team like us pretty much, but they can move around, they can make plays," said QB Jason Campbell. "Their defensive front is guys that get after the ball. They put up a lot of points last week against Kansas City and we all know Kansas City is a good football team and the way they went on the road and won last week defines what kind of team they have and the mentality they have going in Buffalo."
Heading across the country to play in another hostile environment, the coaches and players have been working on staying poised under pressure and dealing with crowd noise. "The key to winning is scoring one more point than those guys," said offensive coordinator Al Saunders. "That's always been the case, but we work real hard with the noise, we have it every day in practice. I think our players are in a position where they've been prepared to handle that kind of noise situation. We have to be poised and make sure we have the proper communication, which is always difficult in a noisy environment, and we work real hard at that so I think we'll be prepared to handle that situation there."
While one piece of the puzzle is the Raiders own mental preparedness, the team also studies and game plans for the Bills. "Good football team," said Coach Jackson. "Oh man, they are 1-0, they beat one of our division teams, the Kansas City Chiefs, they got after them. Chan Gailey is a heck of a coach, they are very explosive on offense, and good players with Fred Jackson and [Steve] Johnson. The young man [Scott] Chandler, who is 6'7", is a match-up nightmare and made a lot of plays against Kansas City. It will be a tall chore for our defense, but I think we'll be looking forward to it. On the offense, their defense made some plays. They took the Kansas City offense, who had some talented receivers and runners, and shut them down. We have a tall task ahead of us, but we're looking forward to it."
The Raiders defense has been studying the Bills offensive tendencies, know their weapons and are ready to go in and play Raider football. "They executed well last week and we have a lot of respect for what they did," said veteran DT Richard Seymour. "We just feel like we have a good defense and we can handle their speed. But, they do a good job executing so we have to be aware of where everyone is and what they are trying to do. It's their home opener so I'm sure they will be excited, but it was Denver's home opener as well and we know what to expect. We're going to a hostile environment and our only mission there is to get a win and not listen to anything else."
The Bills have offensive weapons such as RB C.J. Spiller, WR Steve Johnson and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. "We're going to take them out of the game," said DE Trevor Scott. "They are a big part of their offense, so you just have to take the engine out of the car."
Spiller, a teammate of Raiders WR Jacoby Ford at Clemson, is an offensive threat for the Bills. "Wow, the guy can run," said Coach Jackson. "He's a talented player and we have to swarm the ball. We have to be around the ball with him and Fred Jackson both. Fred Jackson, he can run also and we have to get around the ball. We have to get 11 guys to the ball as often as we can. We have to make sure we tackle the ball carrier and that's what you have to do to real good backs."
LB Darryl Blackstock, who blocked a punt against the Broncos last week, is confident the defense will be ready to go on Sunday. "We know that they have a lot of talent over there and we know that they are doing a good job with their system and organization," said Blackstock. "We just want to practice hard and prepare for what they have to throw at us."
The Raiders defense is keenly aware that they will need to bring their best to the field. "We're going to have to be on our 'A' game," said S Matt Giordano. "It is a very talented group. We're going to have to practice hard and go in there on our 'A' game."
Buffalo's offense was sharp in Week 1 and so was their defense, which held the Chiefs to seven points. "They held Kansas City to what, seven points, a team that ended being the division champion last year and they're good," said Saunders. "They're physical up front. They've got two young corners; they lost their starting corner and the young kid came in and played fairly well. They give us all we can handle. The backers are very physical, the defensive front, especially the two interior tackles, are very physical, run dominant guys, and it's going to be a real fist fight. It's tough playing in Buffalo. It's a long road trip for us and we're looking forward to going there and it'll be an interesting game."
The Raiders offense understands they will be facing a skilled linebacker and familiar foe in former Charger Shawne Merriman. "He's a good player and he's making plays," said Coach Jackson. "He stands out and he's one of the key players on their defensive football team. Obviously, that's why they brought him there. He's a challenge and we have to get this man blocked."
Coach Saunders remembers facing Merriman a few years back. "He's another special player," said Saunders. "We went in there with Priest Holmes several years ago and Priest didn't play for three games after that after he hit him on the goal line coming out at about the five-yard line and we know what Shawne Merriman brings to a team. He's a tremendously gifted player and he's an intelligent guy. He's played in the league a lot of years and he adds another dimension to that defense that we would prefer not to see. He's special."
Although aware of what Merriman and the rest of the Bills defense presents, the offense is prepared to take the field, focus on their jobs, and execute. "We are going to play our game and go after it with the same mindset that we always do," said T Jared Veldheer. "We want to be nasty as a group and score as many points as possible."
T Khalif Barnes agreed with Veldheer. "It's really up to us," said Barnes. "We just have to go up there and do what we do. They are going to have their own game plan and they are going to come in and have set up whatever they have for us. I can't worry too much about that. I'm worried about my guys and our game plan and making sure that we execute it."
RB Darren McFadden, who led the NFL in Week 1 with 150 rushing yards, has played against many of the Bills defensive players before. "They are pretty good players in this league and they have been doing a good job," said McFadden. "It's one of those things where we have to go out there and do what we've been doing. You have to go out there and go hard. We feel very comfortable with our running game, so that's something we're going to try to do with running the ball. We just have to be prepared to play our game."
The Raiders offense is ready to take on the Bills defensive threats. "They have to deal with our weapons," said C Samson Satele. "We have a lot of weapons and they have a good defense. The guys up front are playing really good, the two DTs and they have a good linebacker corps. But, they have to watch out for our weapons."
Bills head coach Chan Gailey is well aware of what the Raiders bring to the field. "The key to beating them is trying to stop that running game and trying to run the ball yourself," said Coach Gailey. "Their core is so strong defensively and with their running game with their line and backs going downhill, that is the key to beating them."
He also paid close attention to K Sebastian Janikowski's ability to kick from nearly anywhere on the field. "He has a powerful leg, but he is extremely accurate," said Coach Gailey. "Everyone wants to talk about how far he kicks it, but he gets points almost every time. I'm not saying he's 100 percent, but I mean he is great at his trade and it is a huge weapon for a team to be able to depend on points like that."
The Raiders, heading into the second game with a 1-0 record for the first time since 2002, want to go into Buffalo and play the Raider way and return with a 2-0 record. "We're going to do what we need to do to take care of business," said DE Matt Shaughnessy.