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Friday, November 22, 2013
Bills' bye-week questions: Defensive line

By Mike Rodak

The Buffalo Bills are on their bye week, and throughout the week we'll take a look at some of the biggest questions the team will face in the final five games of the season.

Williams
Next on the docket: Can the Bills set a new franchise single-season sacks record?

Boosted by the addition of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and his pressure-based schemes, the Bills have become one of the NFL's best pass-rushing teams.

"Coach Pettine, he wants us to have fun. He wants us just to cut loose and just play the game the way we like to play it," defensive tackle Marcell Dareus said Monday. "We just feed off each other and you make a play, I feel like I make a play. That’s just how we go about our game, and how we practice and go about our day."

The Bills have gotten push from both the interior and exterior of their defensive line, which is among the best in the NFL. Here's a look at some of the play-making contributions of the group:

Mario Williams: 11 sacks, three tackles for a loss, one forced fumble
Kyle Williams: Seven sacks, six tackles for a loss, one forced fumble
Jerry Hughes: Six sacks, two forced fumbles
Dareus: Five sacks, one tackle for a loss, one forced fumble
Alan Branch: Three tackles for a loss

The Bills have been consistently among the league leaders in disrupted drop-back percentage, which measures sacks, passes defended, interceptions, and batted balls per quarterback drop-back. They are currently fourth in the NFL, disrupting 19.7 percent of drop-backs.

The Bills are also tied with the Saints for the most sacks in the NFL, with 37. Buffalo's franchise record is 49 sacks, set in 1995.

Therefore, if the Bills want to surpass the 1995 mark and set a new record, they'll need to record 12.5 sacks over their final five games, or 2.5 sacks per game.

It's hardly a gimme, and if the Bills want to achieve the mark, they'll likely need to get more out of Mario Williams. The team's top pass-rusher has been quiet on the stat sheet recently, notching a total of three tackles and no sacks over the past three games.