Phillips spent 1999 and 2000 as coach of the Bills, leading the
franchise to one playoff berth and compiling an 18-14 record. He
was fired following an 8-8 campaign in 2000.
Phillips moved on to Atlanta for two seasons where he was a
defensive coordinator before being lured to San Diego by coach
Marty Schottenheimer. He is in his second season as Chargers
The game also is a reunion of sorts for Chargers general manager
A.J. Smith, who spent 14 seasons in the Bills organization from
1987-2000. In Buffalo, Smith served as a scout, assistant
director of college scouting and director of pro personnel.
In his third season as GM, Smith has built a contender in San
Diego. He was the NFL's Executive of the Year last season when
the Chargers went a surprising 12-4 and captured the AFC West
Coming off their bye, the Chargers have recovered to go 5-2
since an 0-2 start. They are tied for second place with
Kansas City, two games behind Denver.
The Bills may have another quarterback controversy on their hands
after J.P. Losman came off the bench for the injured Kelly Holcomb
in last week's 14-3 victory over Kansas City.
Buffalo's starter to open the season, Losman lost his job to
Holcomb after the first four games due to a lack of execution
and confidence from his wide receivers. But against the Chiefs,
Losman came off the bench to throw a pair of TDs after Holcomb
suffered a concussion in the second quarter. It is uncertain
if Losman or Holcomb will start.
Buffalo, which is a game behind first-place New England in the AFC
East, is 0-4 on the road.
Matchup to watch: Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel, who has six
tackles and two sacks last week, against veteran left tackle
Series: The Chargers lead, 19-11-2.
Next week: Buffalo hosts Carolina, November 27
San Diego visits Washington, November 27
The Chargers are coming off a bye and host a Bills team trying to stay in the race in the AFC East. Ready, set, go -- that's the Chargers' mantra as they enter the final seven games with an offense that continues to develop as one of the most diverse and exciting units in the NFL. Bills defensive coordinator Jerry Gray must continue his bend-but-don't-break philosophy against another offense.
The Bills' game plan on defense will be to stop the run and force QB Drew Brees to attack through air against some overload blitz pressures and zone fires. Also, look for Gray to mix in a lot of underneath matchup zones off a four-man rush and limit Brees' options in the short and intermediate areas of the passing game. The key matchup for the Bills' defense is stopping the Chargers' rushing attack and RB LaDainian Tomlinson.
On the other side of the ball, Bills head coach Mike Mularkey will commit to the future and return QB J.P. Losman to the starting lineup against a shaky Chargers secondary. The Bills must find a creative way to run the ball with RB Willis McGahee and a struggling offensive line against a Chargers run defense that is allowing only 79.6 yards per game. Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips must find a way to create more turnovers and improve their pass defense that is near the bottom in yards allowed at 248.6 yards per game.