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Greetings from Orchard Park

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills enter Week 14 still alive in playoff race. That's an accomplishment in itself, given their 3-6 start.

To keep breathing, they'll need to defeat the St. Louis Rams this afternoon in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Rams have been more competitive than their 5-6-1 record suggests. The Rams are coming off a victory over the San Francisco 49ers and twice have taken the NFC West leaders into overtime.

Here is a digest of items about today's game ...

Point spread: Bills -3. The over/under total is 42 points. For Las Vegas oddsmaker and St. Joe's grad Joel Staniszewski's thoughts from a betting perspective, check out this week's "On the line from Vegas" blog.

Weather report: The Weather Channel forecast for kickoff is 39 degrees, 62 percent humidity, a 10 percent chance of rain and winds around 14 mph.

The Bills will be in their AFL throwback uniforms today. The white-on-white getups feature the red standing buffalo helmet logo and a special patch to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The last time the Bills wore this uniform combination was 2009.

Matchup to watch: Bills receiver Stevie Johnson versus Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan. Johnson has been dealing with a hamstring injury but has put together back-to-back productive games. He had six catches for 106 yards against the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago and two catches for 18 yards and a touchdown last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Finnegan is one of the NFL's best cornerbacks and a notorious trash talker. Finnegan is tied for the Rams' lead with three interceptions, one in each of the first three games this year. He has a pick-six and eight passes defensed.

Milestone watch: Scott Chandler is one touchdown away from breaking Buffalo's record for TD catches by a tight end. ... Defensive end Mario Williams is a half sack away from recording double digits for the third time. The last Bills player to do it was Aaron Schobel in 2009. ... Bills linebacker Nick Barnett is one tackle away from 1,000 for his career. ... Rams running back Steven Jackson is 135 rushing yards away from 10,000.

Fast fact: Buoyed by C.J. Spiller, the Bills are averaging 5.6 yards a play, third in the AFC -- behind the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos -- and 12th in the league.

The Buffalo News has you covered throughout the day. Buffalo News columnists Jerry Sullivan and Bucky Gleason and reporters Mark Gaughan, Jay Skurski and I are in the Ralph Wilson Stadium press box.

Skurski will moderate our live chat from noon until 5 p.m. "[BN] the Huddle," our postgame webcast, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Hosted by Lauren Mariacher and me, the recap show will include reports from Orchard Park and analysis from One News Plaza staffers.

Today's game is being televised by Fox and broadcast locally on WUTV Channel 29. Ron Pitts will call the play-by-play with former Rams head coach Mike Martz adding analysis.

Did you know? Former Bills linebacker Mario Haggan still was in the NFL? He has started one game for the Rams and has been inactive for five. Haggan has 10 tackles and one sack.

Bills all-time games versus the Rams: Thurman Thomas rushed for 129 yards in 1995, on the same day Jim Kelly threw for a series-high 237 yards. Byron Franklin and Andre Reed had 106 receiving yards in 1983 and 1989.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | tgraham@buffnews.com


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | mgaughan@buffnews.com


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | jskurski@buffnews.com

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