Editor’s note: This is the final part in a series that spotlights three Bills-Raiders matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at O.co Coliseum.
Bills RB CJ Spiller vs. Raiders MLB Miles Burris
Tale of the tape:
Spiller (28): 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, fifth season, Clemson
Burris (56): 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, third season, San Diego State
Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller was activated off of short-term injured reserve this week, fully recovered from a broken collarbone. Exactly how much he’ll play on Sunday against the Raiders remains uncertain, but he’ll certainly make an impact.
The Raiders defense has been exposed in the screen game or, better yet, allowing skill players to find space, an aspect of the game where Spiller shines. He’s quick and agile, smart and savvy, and ready to take advantage of a defense ranked No. 25 with 125.4 yards rushing yards allowed.
Spiller is a dynamic skill player, someone middle linebacker Miles Burris and the Raiders defense must neutralize.
Burris has 91 tackles this season, a higher-than-expected total because he wasn't supposed to start. He spent the offseason program and training camp working at weakside linebacker, but moved to the middle when Nick Roach bowed out with a concussion. He’s been there all season, because Roach was never activated after suffering multiple head traumas in a preseason game at the Green Bay Packers.
Burris has gotten accustomed to the position. He’s gotten better against the run – he still struggles in coverage – and must play extremely well to stop a Bills running game that ranks No. 24 with 97.5 yards per game, a total achieved largely without Spiller toting the rock.
Interim head coach Tony Sparano has faced Spiller a few times in his past, as an assistant coach, and knows how much damage the spry back can make.
He compared Spiller to Kansas City Chiefs star back Jamaal Charles, a compliment of the highest order. That could spell trouble if the Raiders can’t contain a player who averages 5.0 yards per carry over the course of his career.
“In my experiences with C.J., he presents a number of challenges in the way that they can use him and the way that they can kind of get him involved in some of the pass game,” Sparano said. “This guy is an explosive, explosive player, but really when he gets the ball in his hands out there in space can be a problem. … This guy has had some big games in this league and he’s had me up for a long time at night a lot of times, so he’s a talented player.”