Insider Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com provides a closer look at the Seattle Seahawks' Week 9 opponent:
1. Injuries have mounted up for the Bills all across their roster this season, however, a 4-4 record still has them in solid shape. It's kind of impressive that they're still hanging around in the AFC conference. How have they managed to stay afloat offensively and defensively?
Brown: Their run game is what has carried them on offense when injuries first struck, but they are so beat up at the receiver position that they pulled Percy Harvin out of retirement. Opponents have had little respect for their pass game the past couple of weeks because they were without their top three receivers. They've loaded up the box to stop their top-3 rushing attack, which has had a measure of effectiveness.
Defensively, it's been up and down. Their run defense had been solid until they gave up over 200 yards to Jay Ajayi two weeks ago. Their pass defense had been dependable until Tom Brady torched them. Their injuries have been much fewer on that side of the ball, so their defense has only their inconsistency to blame.
2. Lorenzo Alexander's breakout season at 33-years-old has been one of the better stories in the league this year. What has allowed him to thrive this season, and if he can't play this week, how much will that affect the defense?
Brown:He intends to play, saying he's had a mild hamstring strain before. Alexander has just taken advantage of an opportunity. With top draft pick Shaq Lawson out the first six weeks he stepped into the starting lineup in the preseason and was a playmaker. That carried into the regular season with extra attention being paid to Jerry Hughes on the other side. With Lawson now back, they can limit Alexander's reps knowing he probably won't be 100 percent, and Lawson has come on the last couple of games, so they're not losing much with their pass rush.
3. How is Lawson holding up coming off his shoulder injury? Are the Bills using him as sort of a situational pass-rusher to ease him along? Or is he seeing a good dosage right away?
Brown:As mentioned, he is coming on. When Alexander left last week's game prematurely with his hamstring strain Lawson was entrusted with handling more coverage assignments and base downs and fared well. For Lawson, most feel it's a matter of when, not if his full game comes together. He's an accomplished pass rusher and improves with each series. As mentioned with Alexander, less than 100 percent he could see upwards of 30 snaps Monday night.
4. How much pressure is head coach Rex Ryan under this season?
Brown:Believe it or not, pressure regarding his job doesn't appear to be there. Owner Terry Pegula has stated more than once that continuity is something the organization needs after year after year of frequent change. Buffalo has the longest playoff drought in the league at 16 years and all the changes they've made over that period of time haven't advanced the team much before another change takes place. The Pegula's sound very adamant about staying the course, so short of a complete implosion and a 6-10 finish, I don't anticipate Ryan will be fighting for his job.
5. And lastly, how is Tyrod Taylor coming along in his second year as a starter? What differences have you noticed from Year 1 to Year 2?
Brown:Taylor is still a work in progress. He's great in terms of ball security with a better than 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio, but production in the pass game is suffering with Sammy Watkins on IR, Robert Woods slowed by a foot injury and Marquise Goodwin out last week with a concussion. Goodwin is expected back this week. It's unclear if Harvin will dress this week.
But it's been hard for this offense to make plays in the pass game without a strong cast out wide. Taylor can still hit the deep ball and has done a good job of buying time to make plays with his legs. He is the leading rusher among QBs in the NFL, and his decisions on zone reads has been solid.
Get to know the faces of the Buffalo Bills' offensive and defensive units heading into the team's Week 9 Monday Night Football matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.