CHARLOTTE – Bills fans are ready.
The downtown area here Saturday night was packed with fans in red, white and blue, with the familiar "Hey-Hey-A-Hey" filling the air. Buffalo fans – both those from home and those who have moved south – are sure to be heard loud and clear inside Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.
"You learn a little bit more every week," Bills coach Sean McDermott said. "I believe in this football team, I’m confident in these guys, they’ve got an ‘it’ factor that a lot of teams look for. I look forward to watching us continue to grow."
Here is everything you need to know for Sunday's game, as well as five things we'll be looking for:
• Radio: Bills Radio Network. Buffalo-WGR 550 AM; Toronto-Fan 590 AM; Rochester-WCMF 96.5 FM and WROC 950 AM; Syracuse-WTKW 99.5 FM and WTKV 105.5 FM. Announcers: John Murphy (play by play), Mark Kelso (color analyst).
• Series history: Bills lead, 5-1. The Bills are 2-0 in Carolina and are looking to go 2-0 on the season for the first time since 2014.
• Uni watch: The Bills are going with blue jerseys paired with white pants against the Panthers.
• Did you know? Panthers coach Ron Rivera and Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier spent time on the Chicago Bears together for two seasons. The duo were part of the “46 Defense” in 1985 that won Super Bowl XX. Frazier led the team that year with six interceptions.
• Next up: The Bills return home to face the Denver Broncos at 1 p.m. Sept. 24.
Here are five things to watch for against the Panthers:
1. Can the wide receivers do more? It's been well documented that just four of Tyrod Taylor's passes were caught by wide receivers in Week One, but a fairly easy victory overshadowed that some. Against the Panthers – and any other team not named the Jets – that won't cut it. Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones and Andre Holmes have to show some separation and provide the offense with a viable option if the Panthers load up to stop the run, as expected.
2. Will the pass rush be more involved? The Jets were content to let quarterback Josh McCown get the ball out quick in Week One, but that resulted in him averaging just 4.4 yards per attempt. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton likes to hold onto the ball longer as he tries to let bigger plays develop. If that's the case, Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams have to make him uncomfortable in the pocket.
3. Can Jordan Poyer and Ramon Humber do it again? The safety and linebacker, respectively, were breakout performers against the Jets. Poyer had an interception and a sack, while Humber led the team with 14 tackles. Going against the Panthers will be a step up in completion for the entire defense, but it will be particularly interesting to see if Poyer and Humber can build on their promising debuts.
4. Kawaan Short vs. Richie Incognito. In what should be a classic battle of the trenches, there will be times the Panthers have their star defensive tackle lined up against the Bills' Pro Bowl guard. When that happens, it will make for a great matchup. Short got a Dareus-sized contract from the Panthers for his ability to disrupt what the opposing offense is trying to do, both in the running game and passing game. It's possible Carolina moves him around to get matched up against either center Eric Wood or right guard John Miller.
5. Should we be worried about Stephen Hauschka? The Bills' kicker missed his only field goal last week against the Jets, but that was mostly forgotten because the Bills were ahead the entire game. Against Carolina, the Bills won't be able to afford to leave points on the field, so Hauschka will need to come through when called on.