The New Orleans Saints and Buffalo Bills meet for the 11th time in their history this afternoon. The Saints lead the series 6-4, and have won the last 4 meetings between the two teams. The first meeting between these two was on November 4, 1973, a Saints home game played in Tulane Stadium. The Bills were led by future Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson, who in 1973 would have the first 2000-yd rushing season in NFL history, eventually finishing with 2,003 yards. A New Orleans defense that would finish the year ranked just 22nd against the run held Simpson to only 79 yards on 20 carries in a 13-0 Saints win.
Today's game will be in Buffalo, NY, where the Saints hold a 3-1 all-time advantage against the Bills. The first meeting that took place in Buffalo between the teams took place on October 30, 1983, when despite being outgained in total yardage, the Bills took advantage of 4 Saints turnovers to push their way to a 27-21 victory.
The next time they met was in a Lake Erie snowstorm on December 10, 1989. The Bills were just a year away from the first of an unprecedented four consecutive AFC championships, and possessed multiple future Hall of Famers on their roster. The Saints countered with a suffocating defense led by The Dome Patrol, pro bowl running Dalton Hilliard's 152 all purpose yards and productive receiving performances from Eric Martin and Brett Perriman. New Orleans forced 4 Buffalo turnovers, and behind the only 300-yd passing game of quarterback John Fourcade's career overcame the weather conditions and topped the Bills, 22-19.
First year Bills head coach Sean McDermott spent six years as the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, engaging in a chess match with Sean Payton, Drew Brees, and the Saints offense. New Orleans averaged nearly 29 points per game in the twelve match ups against McDermott's defenses.
The Saints passing attack matches up extremely well against McDermott's Bills defense, but New Orleans will also need to take care of the football against an opportunistic Buffalo unit, and establish their running game for a balanced attack. The improved New Orleans defense will need to contain explosive Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy, but seems to have a strong advantage against the Bills passing attack. Payton is building his 2017 Saints into the type of team that can win in any environment, and able to succeed against any style of opponent by imposing their own will. This young Saints team may have to do exactly that against a hard-nosed opponent, with a coach familiar with their tendencies, and while in a hostile environment to continue their progression towards contender status.
PREDICTION: Saints 20, Bills 14
Who wins this Rust Belt Showdown?
This poll is closed