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NFL WEEK 10 STORY LINES

Lions represent Bills' best chance to get on win column

Buffalo needs to go all out against Detroit because it has a tough schedule in the second half.

November 09, 2010|Sam Farmer

The Buffalo Bills are running out of chances.

They are the NFL's only winless team heading into Week 10, and their second-half schedule includes matchups with three teams currently 6-2: Pittsburgh, New England and the New York Jets.

The Bills need to gather their victories — or at least one — where they can, which turns up the pressure a bit on Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions (2-6) in Buffalo.

Something's got to give, because the Lions have lost 24 games in a row on the road.

The 0-8 record doesn't tell the full story of the Bills, who in the last three weeks took Baltimore and Kansas City to overtime before losing by field goals, and Sunday lost to Chicago by three points. They're playing better than a few teams, among them the Dallas Cowboys. Also, Shawne Merriman, the former San Diego outside linebacker who was plucked off the waiver wire, is expected to be ready to go and could give a boost to Buffalo's defense.

That said, the Lions are no pushovers, either. They nearly upset the Jets on Sunday, and beat Washington the week before.

It doesn't help Detroit's cause, though, that quarterback Matthew Stafford has suffered another injury to his throwing shoulder, won't play in Sunday's game, and speculation is swirling that he's done for the season.

If there's any good news for the Lions on the Stafford front, it's that the new injury is not an aggravation of the old one, Coach Jim Schwartz said, meaning this doesn't appear to be the result of a chronic problem. Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, has had three shoulder injuries in the last 13 games.

"I don't question his durability at all," Schwartz said this week. "He's not been able to play as much as he'd like, but it's not like he's been hampered by a hang nail or headaches. He's been hit by 290-pound guys going full speed."

By all indications, third-stringer Drew Stanton will start in place of Stafford against the Bills.

Other games to watch:

New England at Pittsburgh: Was New England's loss at Cleveland a hiccup or an indication of bigger problems? The Patriots offense hasn't been the same without Randy Moss, so it will be interesting to see how it fares against the league's fourth-ranked defense.

New York Jets at Cleveland: The Browns are on a roll, having knocked off New Orleans and New England in consecutive games. Are the Jets the next team with "New" in their name to fall? Hard-running Peyton Hillis certainly presents a defensive challenge, even for a Jets unit ranked fourth against the run.

Dallas at New York Giants: The Giants have the league's longest winning streak (five) and face a bitter division rival that seldom has been this down on its luck. All eyes will be on Jason Garrett, promoted this week to interim coach after Wade Phillips was fired. Will that change make a difference? Not if Eli Manning is on his game. He's aiming for his fourth consecutive victory over the Cowboys, and tied a career high with four touchdown passes against them in their last meeting.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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