GREEN BAY—It wasn't an eye-catcher when the schedule was announced. December in Buffalo against a low-profile team lacking a star quarterback will cause the ho-hum kind of reaction that accompanied this game.
Sentiments, however, have changed. All of a sudden, on the heels of a stunning performance by the Bills defense in Denver last week, this game has become somewhat of a headliner. Nobody in Packerland is going to sleep on the Bills.
How big is this game?
Well, it could be the difference between playing at home throughout the playoffs, or having to go to Seattle. Yeah, it's that big.
The Bills held Peyton Manning to 173 yards and no touchdowns in a 24-17 loss to the Broncos last week. Does that grab your attention?
Aaron Rodgers will lead the Packers into Buffalo this weekend for a game against the 7-6 Bills that is do-or-die for whatever playoff hopes the Bills have. Rest assured the Packers will get the best the Bills have to give this Sunday.
It'll be a classic confrontation between a Packers team that is No. 1 in the league in scoring, against a Bills team that is No. 4 in points allowed. The Buffalo defense is so overpowering that nearly all of its rankings are in single digits: No. 1 in sacks per pass play and No. 2 in third-down efficiency lead the way. They sack you and get off the field on third down, and that's a bad combination for opposing offenses.
Now are you interested?
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Bills.
1. Protect Rodgers – It begins with that for the obvious reason that the Packers quarterback must not go down and he must not go down hard.
2. Run the ball – That'll help quiet the rush.
3. Screen – That'll help, too.
4. Win with defense – That's what the Broncos did, even though they gave up 355 yards passing to Kyle Orton.
5. Stay at No. 1 – The Packers top the league in takeaways/giveaways differential. The Bills aren't far behind at No. 5.
6. Rush the passer – The Packers pass rush went to sleep a little bit against the Falcons. That's not what you want to happen in December.
7. Deny conversions – Buffalo has struggled on third down. It's the main reason for its struggles on offense.
8. Get up on Sammy Watkins –Julio Jones had far too much room to roam. Watkins isn't Jones but the rookie receiver has big-play potential.
9. Study that Denver tape – Whatever the Bills did against the Broncos, they're likely to try to do against the Packers.
10. Know what this game means – This game should set the table for a big finish.
For all the Packers-Bills preview headlines, click here.