Though the weather forecast calls for rain instead of snow, the St. Louis Rams expect some nasty conditions when they play the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"That's usually always the case when you go up there at this time of the year,'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "So you go up there and both teams are playing in it and you make the most of it.
"Ball security becomes the issue. You have to protect the football. You have to handle and throw and catch a wet football."
To prepare for the potential wet conditions, the Rams brought a bucket of water out on the practice field this week.
"If it's cold, that's really not a big deal,'' Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said. "Obviously, if it starts to rain or snow, then that can affect things a little bit more.
"We're going to prepare for the worst conditions possible. We threw after practice with balls, dipping them in the water bucket. We'll continue to do that and prepare for the elements."
The temperature is predicted to be in the high 30s at kickoff, so snowfall is unlikely.
"It is going to be rainy, cold and maybe spitting a little snow,'' Buffalo coach Chan Gailey said. "It is just ideal.''
While the Rams play their home games in a climate-controlled dome, cold-weather games are a way of life for the Bills.
"We have to do it more often than most people,'' said Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who played two seasons for the Rams after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL draft. "We have to make it an advantage. We have to make sure when we get the home games in December and it's windy and rainy and snowy, we're using it to our advantage.
"I don't know if you wish for those type of games, where it is going to be a lot more running and tough conditions, but as a team, that's something that gets us going a little bit. We feel like it's our type of weather and our brand of football.''
The Bills are fourth in the NFL in rushing offense. C.J. Spiller has run for 907 yards and five touchdowns, while Fred Jackson has rushed for 423 yards and three TDs.
Spiller is averaging an NFL-best 6.6 yards per carry.
"They've got as good a one-two punch in the backfield as anybody in the league, and obviously the pressure's on our defense.'' Fisher said. "Sunday (against the 49ers) we faced the No. 2 team in National Football League in rushing.
"This week we face the (fourth) team, they're third in rushing average and then unfortunately, not to look ahead, but the (Minnesota) Vikings (next week) are first in rushing average. So, we're finding out about our defense.''
Both the Rams and the Bills need a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
The Bills are trying to snap a 12-year playoff drought -- the longest in the NFL.
"Well, we have a chance,'' Gailey said. "What I told our team was: 'The World Champions (New York Giants) were 7-7 last year. Let's get to 7-7 and see what happens.'''
The Bills are coming off a 34-18 win over Jacksonville. They used their ground game to overcome strong winds and persistent drizzle in the win, amassing a season-high 232 rushing yards.
"We're starting to find a little bit of a groove,'' Fitzpatrick said. "The only way we have a shot is if we win out, and last week was a good game for us just to gain some momentum."
The Rams haven't gone to the playoffs since the 2004 season under coach Mike Martz. They're seeking their first three-game winning streak since winning the final three games of the 2006 season under coach Scott Linehan.
"I think our record could be better than what it is right now, but to win the last two weeks and get ourselves back to the position we're in now, I think it just says a lot about our character,'' Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said. "We're going to look to continue to improve our record and finish strong."
The Rams' defense has 13 sacks in its last four games. They'll be going against a Bills' patchwork offense line that includes Kraig Urbik, rookie David Snow and Sam Young. Snow and Young both will be making their first NFL start Sunday.
The Rams' offense must contend with Bills defensive end Mario Williams, who has 9 1/2 sacks after signing a six-year, $100 million contract in March, and Bills free safety Jairus Byrd, who has 18 interceptions since 2009, including five this season.
Byrd is a graduate of Clayton (Mo.) High School.
The Bills' return game is especially dangerous. They're No. 1 in punt returns with Leodis McKelvin averaging 20.4 yards per return and No. 4 in kickoff returns with McKelvin averaging 28.3 yards per return and former University of Missouri quarterback Brad Smith averaging 30.1 yards per return.
"He is such a valuable player for us,'' Gailey said of Smith. "Kick returns, kick coverage, running our Wildcat, playing wide out and he is our third quarterback on game day.
"He wears a lot of hats, and he wears them extremely well.''
McKelvin is listed as questionable for the Rams because of a back injury, while Smith is listed as probable with a hamstring injury.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.