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About zanthrax54

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  1. Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports The Bills have a good lead through two quarters. Through two quarters against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Buffalo Bills have put together a 17-6 lead. The Bills defense is doing a great job of shutting down rookie sensation Justin Herbert, aided by some fortunate dropped passes. Meanwhile, the Bills offense has delivered enough points for comfort, and the special teams is in cruise control. They’re set up well to close out a win in the second half. The Bills have attacked the Chargers with a steady dosage of designed runs, screens, and draws - a tactical shift from their other games this season. It’s helping to stave off some of the pressure from the talented Chargers defensive line - Josh Allen’s been sacked once today - but the Bills offense has been less explosive than usual, as a result. On Buffalo’s opening drive, they scored a touchdown with only nine rushing yards and seven passing yards. That’s because Stefon Diggs drew a 47 yard pass interference penalty and set up a goalline series. Allen finished the drive with a touchdown pass to Dawson Knox in the back of the end zone. The Chargers responded with a methodical 13 play, 79 yard drive. Keenan Allen found juuuust enough room near Tremaine Edmunds for a catch at the goalline, but the Chargers missed their extra point kick, leaving Buffalo with a 7-6 lead. Buffalo’s second touchdown came on a trick play. The Bills set it up with two screen passes earlier on the drive. Allen tossed the ball backward to Cole Beasley, who wound up and lofted a pass to Gabriel Davis. The rookie, who had pretended to block, released upfield into the end zone for a wide-open touchdown. The Bills had another promising drive cut short after Allen twisted his ankle on an aborted running play. Matt Barkley came in for one snap, but was sacked instantly when Brian Winters and Daryl Williams forgot about blocking Joey Bosa. Allen came back in on the next play, but the Bills went nowhere on third down. Tyler Bass nailed the 45 yard field goal to put the Bills up 17-6. Meanwhile, the Chargers have punted four consecutive times after their touchdown drive. Herbert is only 15 for 27 passing, with a few of his passes a little bit off target. The difference has been those dropped, missed passes. The Bills are set to receive the opening kickoff of the second half. If they can avoid another third quarter collapse and maintain their lead, this team will be 8-3 for the second year in a row. Here’s your open thread for the rest of the game. Go Bills! View the full article
  2. Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images Fresh off a bye week, the Bills look to add another notch in the win column The Buffalo Bills host the Los Angeles Chargers this afternoon in a week where plenty of craziness is swirling around the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens have added 20 players and 11 coaches to the reserve/COVID-19 list. The San Francisco 49ers might not be able to play in their home stadium. The Denver Broncos have no quarterbacks, so they’re reportedly starting a wide receiver at the position—but only because they weren’t allowed to start a coach instead. As 2020 turns, the Bills keep on motoring towards their goal of the franchise’s first AFC East Division championship since 1995. With third-year quarterback Josh Allen catapulting himself into the NFL MVP conversation this year, the Bills can safely call themselves one of the top squads in the AFC, and even the NFL as a whole. While the Chargers may have an unsightly record, their play has been anything but ghastly this year. The team has lost all seven of its games by one score or less. The only other teams to lose only one-score games this year are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers...and they’re a combined 17-1 this year. The Chargers have combined some solid offensive play with poor defense and bad luck to put together a 3-7 overall record. The Bills are without wide receiver John Brown and guard Cody Ford this week, as both players were placed on injured reserve prior to the game. The Chargers are down defensive end Melvin Ingram and cornerback Casey Heyward Jr., but star running back Austin Ekeler returns from a serious hamstring issue. Your first-half thread is here, folks. Enjoy the last day of Thanksgiving Weekend—hopefully with a Buffalo victory. Go Bills! View the full article
  3. Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images Two sometimes-starters are a healthy scratch today The Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Chargers kick off in right around 90 minutes. Each team released its inactive list, and Buffalo’s had some surprising names. The Bills ruled out two players, wide receiver John Brown and guard Cody Ford, but then they placed those players on injured reserve. They don’t count towards today’s inactive grouping. Who’s in and who’s out this week? The full list for each team is below. QB Jake Fromm See what’s happening right now in Denver for the real reason why Fromm remains in bubble wrap each week. Great planning here by Brandon Beane and company so that the Bills can avoid a truly crazy scenario. RB T.J. Yeldon Specialist Taiwan Jones is healthy, and he’ll be active as the team’s emergency third running back-slash-special teams contributor. TE Tyler Kroft Blocking specialist Lee Smith has been a healthy scratch more often than not this year, but today it’s Kroft who’s out for the game. Perhaps this is an indication that the Bills plan to deploy Smith as a blocker more often to aid in the run game? DE Trent Murphy Murphy, who has started eight games this year, is a healthy scratch for the second time. Harrison Phillips will be active at defensive tackle instead. Gameday roster and inactives for #LACvsBUF: pic.twitter.com/eoz6rW9vDQ — Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) November 29, 2020 And here are the inactives for the Chargers: #LACvsBUF Inactives: Easton Stick Casey Hayward Jr. Kalen Ballage Uchenna Nwosu Tyree St. Louis Storm Norton Cortez Broughton pic.twitter.com/s7PyAEqkju — Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) November 29, 2020 View the full article
  4. Xinhua/Lefteris Partsalis via Getty Images With the Ravens and Steelers problems this week, the NFL is considering options. With the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers dealing with rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and nationwide spikes of the infection, the NFL is considering isolating team personnel during the playoffs. That comes from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport. Under the plan being discussed, team personnel would be housed in hotels in their home city and only travel to the team facility and the airport. With the size and scope of NFL rosters and support staff, creating a league-wide or even conference-wide bubble is not feasible. If you’re an NFL player from the Wild Card round all the way through the Super Bowl, that’s a month spent away from your family. The NFL Players Association would have to sign off on the plan and that seems like a pretty big ask. Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White almost opted out of the season because his longtime girlfriend and mother of his children wouldn’t be able to have family in town to help with their kids. In this scenario, White wouldn’t even be home to handle those duties. At 7-3, the Buffalo Bills have a 90-something percent chance of making the postseason according to multiple analytics sites. We’ll continue following the story. View the full article
  5. Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images Odd. The Buffalo Bills didn’t play a game last week, but fan confidence still fell. It was 95% before their loss to the Arizona Cardinals, then 92% following the last-second loss, and now it’s down slightly to 90%. At the top of the list are fans of the Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints, who are 100% confident. At the bottom, fans of the Atlanta Falcons (0%), Detroit Lions (2%), and Philadelphia Eagles (5%) are in the single digits. Detroit has fired their general manager and head coach since voting took place. In the AFC East, fans of the Miami Dolphins still lead the division, tied with fans of the Buffalo Bills at 90%. Fans of the New England Patriots tumbled from the 70s to 38% and New York Jets fans are somehow still 13% confident. For Thanksgiving, each team’s fans were given the choice of iconic parts of dinner to select as their team. While some teams went with leftovers, alcohol, or stuffing, Bills fans voted and the current team in Buffalo was labeled as the turkey leg of NFL teams. We can see why: View the full article
  6. Photo by Icon Sportswire How to watch the Bills in their first game back from the bye week. The Buffalo Bills (7-3) return from their bye week relatively healthy and with a one-game lead in the AFC East as the team looks to win the division for the first time since 1995. Buffalo kicks off its final six games of the regular season at 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday, when the Los Angeles Chargers (3-7) come to Bills Stadium. Points should be plentiful in this matchup, as Josh Allen has directed an offense that is averaging 27.2 points per game (11th in the NFL) and eclipsed 30 points in five games, while rookie quarterback Justin Herbert is at the helm of a Chargers’ offense that is scoring 26 points per game (15th), and nearly 30 points per game over their last seven. Buffalo is looking to forget all about a Week 10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, who won on a last-second Hail Mary touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins. Los Angeles is searching for a way to close out opponents, as the Chargers have had the lead late in many of their losses and have suffered seven setbacks by eight points or less. Sunday’s matchup will be the 40th all-time between the Bills and the Chargers. The Chargers lead the all-time series 25-12-2, winning four of the last five and seven of the last ten meetings since 2000. The last time these teams met was Allen’s rookie season, when Philip Rivers and the Chargers came to Western New York and defeated the Bills 31-20 on Sept. 16, 2018 in a game best known for cornerback Vontae Davis suddenly retiring at halftime. Allen completed 18 of 33 passes for 245 yards with the first passing touchdown of his young career to go with two interceptions. The day belonged to Rivers, who carved up Buffalo’s offense and completed 23 of 27 passes for 256 yards and three first-half TDs as the Chargers raced out to a 28-6 halftime lead. Buffalo last beat the Chargers on Oct. 19, 2008 as Trent Edwards completed 25 of 30 passes for 261 yards and a TD, Marshawn Lynch rushed 19 times for 70 yards with a score, and Lee Evans hauled in eight passes for 89 yards with a TD in a 23-14 victory. Buffalo is currently listed as a 4.5-point favorite. The Bills will be wearing their throwback white jerseys complete with their classic white helmet and red standing Buffalo logo. Here are all the ways to catch Sunday’s game from home: TV/Streaming/Radio Schedule Date: Sunday, November 29, 2020 Time: 1 p.m. EST Channel: The game will be carried locally on CBS on WIVB 4 and CFTO 9 in Buffalo, WIVB 4 and WROC 8 in Rochester, WTVH 5 in Syracuse and Utica, WKTV 2 in Syracuse, Utica, and Albany, WBNG 12 in Syracuse, Binghamton, and Elmira, WRGB 6 in Utica and Albany, WCWN 45 in Albany, and WENY 36-2 in Elmira. View the broadcast map. Announcers: Greg Gumbel (play-by-play) and Rich Gannon (analyst). Streaming: FuboTV Location: Bills Stadium | Orchard Park, N.Y. Radio: WGR 550 AM (Buffalo), WCMF 96.5 FM and WROC 950 AM (Rochester), Fan 590 AM (Toronto), WKRL 100.9 FM and 106.5 FM (Syracuse), and the rest of the Buffalo Bills Radio Network. Radio Play-by-Play: John Murphy and Steve Tasker with sideline reporter Sal Capaccio. Online: NFL Game Pass, NFL.com Game Center Social Media Twitter: Follow @BuffRumblings for complete Bills coverage on Twitter before, during, and after every game. Instagram: @buffalorumblings Facebook: Like Buffalo Rumblings on Facebook! Buffalo Rumblings Podcast Links Subscribe to the Buffalo Rumblings podcast channel featuring Billieve, Blitzed Bills, Buffalo Rumblings Q&A, Breaking Buffalo Rumblings, Code of Conduct with J. Spence, The Bruce Exclusive, The Buff Hub, Jamie D. and Big Newt, The Mafia Mavens, and Circling the Wagons: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Google Play | Spotify | Podbean | iHeartRadio | TuneIn | Megaphone Injury Report Buffalo Bills Ruled out: WR John Brown (ankle), OL Cody Ford (ankle/knee). Will play: DE AJ Epenesa (concussion), DE Jerry Hughes (back), RB/special teamer Taiwan Jones (hamstring), TE Dawson Knox (hamstring). Los Angeles Chargers Out: CB Casey Hayward (groin), DE Melvin Ingram (knee), DE Uchenna Nwosu (chest/ shoulder). Questionable: RB Kalen Ballage (ankle/ calf). Will play: RT Bryan Bulaga (knee). View the full article
  7. Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images Two of the league’s best wide receivers should put on a show Sunday. In today’s edition of the Buffalo Bills daily links, we get you ready for game day as the Bills (7-3) host the Los Angeles Chargers (3-7) at 1 p.m. EST at Bills Stadium! We offer up keys for the Bills to bounce back from their Week 10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, discuss how the loss of wide receiver John Brown will impact the passing attack, identify ways for Buffalo’s secondary to contain playmaking wide receiver Keenan Allen, and break down four key matchups for the game—including whether tackle Daryl Williams can slow down talented edge rusher Joey Bosa and whether wide receiver Stefon Diggs can continue his breakout 2020 campaign. We also identify five Bills and five Chargers to watch, discuss the marketability of offensive lineman Jon Feliciano, self-scout Buffalo’s rush and pass defense, provide a creative way to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers as part of your football gameday spread, and much more! Chargers at Bills: Sal’s keys, notes and stats - WGR 550 The Buffalo Bills will look to get back into the win column against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Four matchups to watch for Bills vs. Los Angeles Chargers | Buffalo Bills News | NFL | buffalonews.com Daryl Williams is having a stellar season. If he plays well vs. Joey Bosa, this could add significant dollars to the free-agent windfall he’s likely to score. Take Five: Bills can’t let loss vs. Cardinals interfere with preparing for Chargers | Buffalo Bills News | NFL | buffalonews.com Vic Carucci weighs in with his five takes on the Buffalo Bills’ game Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Los Angeles Chargers at Bills Stadium. NFL analysts | Bills vs. Chargers game predictions | Week 12 - BuffaloBills.com Will the Bills start 8-3 for the second consecutive season? Find out what the experts are predicting for Sunday’s Bills game. Scouting Report: Chargers provide a good chance for Bills’ running game to get right | Buffalo Bills News | NFL | buffalonews.com “The Chargers are the ideal opponent in attempting to fix the running game,” writes Jay Skurski. Bills Today | Will two of the NFL’s top receivers put on a show in Buffalo? - BuffaloBills.com Here are three things to know about the Bills for Sunday, Nov. 29. Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Chargers 2020: Preview, odds, predictions for Week 12 - newyorkupstate.com Bills host the Chargers Sunday at 1 p.m. EST at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. on CBS. How to watch Bills vs. Chargers: TV channel, time, live stream information - newyorkupstate.com Buffalo will look to pick up their eighth win of the season following their bye week. Bills vs. Chargers Week 12 | How to watch, stream, and listen - BuffaloBills.com Here are all the details you need to follow Sunday’s game. Bills place wide receiver John Brown on Injured Reserve - WGR 550 The Buffalo Bills have placed wide receiver John Brown on Injured Reserve. He will miss at least the next three weeks with a reported high ankle sprain. Bills place wide receiver John Brown on injured reserve | Buffalo Bills News | NFL | buffalonews.com Brown has had a series of injuries this season, with the latest coming when his ankle bent under him after he made a catch against Arizona. Buffalo Bills place WR John Brown on injured reserve - ESPN.com Buffalo Bills blog Bills receiver John Brown, who ranks third on the team with 386 yards on 29 catches this season despite missing two games, has been placed on IR with a high ankle sprain. John Brown, Cody Ford placed on injured reserve; Two elevated for Sunday - BuffaloBills.com The Bills announced these roster moves on Saturday. What makes Bills offensive lineman Jon Feliciano so marketable? | Buffalo Bills News | NFL | buffalonews.com Jon Feliciano's versatility on the field has been mirrored, if not exceeded, by his many exploits outside of football. Site for Bills-49ers game to be determined - WKBW TV Teams are not allowed to play in Santa Clara County. Featured on Buffalo Rumblings Billieve: Previewing High-Octane Week 12 Shootout vs. Chargers - Buffalo Rumblings Get ready for another high-scoring affair with Billieve! Analysis: How the Buffalo Bills should attack the Los Angeles Chargers - Buffalo Rumblings Containing Justin Herbert with Buffalo’s cornerbacks and offering up varied looks on defense are a few of the ways the Bills should go after the Chargers. Five Los Angeles Chargers to watch against the Buffalo Bills - Buffalo Rumblings Don’t let the record fool you—this is a dangerous club. Five Buffalo Bills to watch against the Los Angeles Chargers - Buffalo Rumblings Buffalo needs to start hot coming off their bye. Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Chargers broadcast info, announcers, streaming, radio, television Week 12 - Buffalo Rumblings How to watch the Bills in their first game back from the bye week. Analysis: Self-scouting the Buffalo Bills’ pass defense - Buffalo Rumblings It’s not terrible, but not great either. Analysis: Self-scouting the Buffalo Bills’ run defense - Buffalo Rumblings Fix yourself a drink before diving into this one. Buffalo Bills WR John Brown placed on injured reserve - Buffalo Rumblings Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown will miss at least the next three games as he makes his way back from multiple leg injuries. Rookie fourth-round pick Gabriel Davis will see the bulk of the Brown’s playing time. Wingin’ It: Leftover sandwich with cranberry wing sauce for Buffalo Bills vs Los Angeles Chargers - Buffalo Rumblings Leftover turkey? Not a problem as we charge things up! Buffalo Bills’ fan confidence drops over bye week - Buffalo Rumblings Odd. Buffalo Bills vs. San Francisco 49ers will need to be moved following COVID-19 crackdown - Buffalo Rumblings Where will Monday Night Football land on December 7? View the full article
  8. Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Where will Monday Night Football land on December 7th? The Buffalo Bills are supposed to play the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, California on December 7th. New restrictions in Santa Clara will mean that game is going to be moved as a three-week ban on contact sports at the high school, college, and professional levels is being implemented. More to come... View the full article
  9. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown will miss at least the next three games as he makes his way back from multiple leg injuries. Rookie fourth-round pick Gabriel Davis will see the bulk of Brown’s playing time but the Bills have also elevated Jake Kumerow off the practice squad for this week. This time, it’s an ankle injury, but calf and other leg ailments have really hampered him this season. He has missed two games prior to this stop on injured reserve. Brown previously missed Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans, Week 7 against the New York Jets, and will now miss Weeks 12 through 14 even after having the bye week to get healthy. While his snap counts remain in the low 70s to mid 80s in percentage of snaps, that’s a clear downward progression from the mid-to-upper 90s from the beginning of the season and 2019. Davis is not as polished as Brown, but has been productive in his playing time. Brown has 29 catches for 386 yards in eight games this season with two touchdowns. Davis, who has three touchdowns, has 19 receptions for 275 yards as the fourth WR. Kumerow played three offensive snaps during his two previous call ups to the active roster. He was used much more on special teams, where he’s played 33 snaps. View the full article
  10. Get ready for another high-scoring affair with Billieve! The Buffalo Bills (7-3) return from their bye week poised for another high-octane shootout when they host the Los Angeles Chargers (3-7) on Sunday, and on the latest episode of the Billieve Podcast, hosts John Boccacino and Jamie D’Amico have everything you need to know for the Week 12 clash. After wishing everyone in #BillsMafia a belated happy Thanksgiving and reminiscing about last year’s satisfying win for the Bills over the Dallas Cowboys, our podcasters turned their attention to the Chargers matchup, featuring a pair of quarterbacks taken in the top 10 of their NFL Draft class (Josh Allen No. 7 overall in 2018 and Justin Herbert No. 6 overall in 2020). Among the topics discussed on the podcast: What should Bills fans make of the Chargers inability to close out games Will Allen and the passing attack be able to take advantage of the Chargers vulnerabilities in the secondary? Why Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley are poised for another big day. With wide receiver John Brown ruled out for the game, there is an opportunity for rookie wide receiver Gabriel Davis to shine. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert sure hasn’t played like a rookie thus far, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 2,700 yards with 22 TDs and only six interceptions. What are the keys for the Bills defense to confuse Herbert and make him play like a rookie? Why Ed Oliver and Quinton Jefferson need to cause chaos with their presence on the front four, and how they have winnable matchups vs. an under-performing Chargers’ offensive line.. Did Buffalo do enough during the bye week to improve both its rushing attack and its rushing defense? What is the future of center Mitch Morse, and what could a new-look offensive line look like with guard Cody Ford sidelined for the rest of the year? Plenty of points should be scored in this one. Check out the latest Billieve Podcast for our thoughts on these topics and hear score predictions as the Bills face the Chargers, then join the conversation by leaving your thoughts on how the game will play out in the comments section below. Subscribe to the Buffalo Rumblings podcast channel featuring Billieve, Blitzed Bills, Buffalo Rumblings Q&A, Breaking Buffalo Rumblings, Code of Conduct with J. Spence, The Bruce Exclusive, The Buff Hub, Jamie D. and Big Newt, The Mafia Mavens, and Circling the Wagons: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Google Play | Spotify | Podbean | iHeartRadio | TuneIn | Megaphone Ask Alexa or Google Home to play the Buffalo Rumblings podcast! Editor’s note: If you’re viewing this article on Apple News, the embedded audio will be removed. Click through to the site in your browser or listen on iTunes. View the full article
  11. Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports It’s not terrible, but not great either. The Buffalo Bills have played through two-thirds of their season, compiling a 7-3 record in their first ten games. It’s an appealing place to be—in sole possession of the AFC East lead—but things aren’t perfect. The bye-week break is the perfect time for self-scouting, understanding a team’s strengths and weaknesses, and thinking about the future. Let’s go ahead and do that—with an eye focused on the Bills’ passing defense. From 2017 through 2019, the Buffalo Bills were a top-ten passing defense, every single year. Yards, touchdowns, interceptions, yards per attempt, percent of drives ending in a turnover... it was a great run. This year, the Bills returned the exact same defense, except for three players on their defensive line rotation. And on offense, they’re scoring more points per drive, scoring more points per game, and possessing the ball longer on each drive. Yet their defense is significantly worse against the pass this year. Go figure. Through ten games, the Bills have allowed 15 passing touchdowns and netted seven interceptions. In the full 2019 season, they had a 15-to-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and we know the Bills won’t hold QBs to 0:7 in the remainder of the year. Overall, the Bills aren’t bad, they’re just average or below average. They’re sacking the quarterback at a decent rate (tied for eighth in sacks) but not generating a lot of pressure overall (23rd in percent of plays with a QB pressure). In passing success rate, the Bills rank 18th—49 percent of pass attempts leave the offense “on track” to reach a first down. They’re 19th in “explosive plays” with 31 pass plays allowed that gained at least 15 yards. The biggest change here is with Buffalo’s inability to make plays on a ball in flight. From 2017 to 2019, here’s how many passes defended the Bills had: 82, 73, 83. This year they have 39, on track for only 62 over the full season. Dane Jackson, a rookie with exactly two career starts, is ranked third on the team. He has three. Tre’Davious White, recently signed to a major contract extension, is one culprit here. We’re used to him racking up the big plays, but this year he only has one interception and five passes defended. You can chalk this up to teams essentially putting him on an island and targeting other players. White’s on track to be targeted 53 times this year, after 90 targets last year and 73 in 2018. His peripheral stats are still keeping up with his usual standard, mostly. He’s surrendered three touchdowns this year, after a sterling zero in 2019 and allowing two in 2018. His yards-per-target stat is up significantly, but consider that DK Metcalf’s 41-yard catch in Week 9 represents 14.5 percent of all the yards he’s given up this year—one catch. Levi Wallace and Josh Norman aren’t setting a strong example, but they have excuses: they’ve been injured. Wallace has never been a big-play machine, but he’s playing well this year, allowing a 79.3 passer rating when targeted. Taron Johnson doesn’t have an excuse to fall back onto in 2020. The team’s nickel cornerback has played 79 percent of snaps, and he’s now a full-on liability in the passing game. Opponents are completing 72.7 percent of passes when targeting him, for an average gain of 7.8 yards per attempt. He’s only marked for a single touchdown allowed, but those stats still translate to a 101.3 passer rating. He just doesn’t have the foot quickness or reaction speed to handle the quicker slot receivers being run at him. Taron Johnson is totally worked by Jakobi Meyers on this slant. Now to be fair to Johnson, he hasn’t been getting any help from Buffalo’s linebackers. When discussing the run defense, we’ll cover how essential it is for Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano to be playing healthy. We’ll just go ahead and extend that point to this aspect of the defense, too. The pair are serious coverage linebackers, capable of locking down some good tight ends and running backs. But Milano, hurt this year, has barely been on the field. The injured Edmunds, and his replacement partner A.J. Klein, have been a blank check for quarterbacks: 49-of-64, 667 yards, and four touchdowns with no interceptions. That’s a 130.1 passer rating. So the Bills might as well be playing defense with a negative number of players in the middle of the field. Isn’t there a tactic that does that to get an advantage? The Bills finally hit upon a workable tactic by using Klein on blitzes. He has 3.5 sacks this year, and seven pressures, with the Bills giving him more and more play within head coach Sean McDermott’s trademark A-gap blitz packages. It’s a one-dimensional tactic, but this still creates an advantage for a Bills defense without many X-factors. This linebacker pressure completely blows up the play. It results in a sack. They’ve needed the blitz packages because, while the defensive line isn’t a liability in the pass rush, it’s not a strength. Jerry Hughes and Ed Oliver are both great players with a knack for “winning their part and watching the play succeed in spite of that effort.” There’s no Jordan Phillips rumbling through the line to hype up the crowd with takedown after takedown this year. Hughes and Mario Addison currently lead the team with four sacks apiece. Buffalo’s heavy rotation system, and the fact that its starters and best players are on the wrong side of 32 years old, is probably not helping things. Hughes and Addison, despite their positive impact, are both playing less than 65 percent of snaps. Knowing how Sean McDermott executes, this will probably not change moving forward. All the Bills can do is hope for one of their backups to rise to the occasion. Through the end of 2020 The number-one priority is team health. The Bills need Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds at full strength. They need Levi Wallace and Josh Norman healthy and available. They need key players like Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison to manage their fatigue and fight through the final stretch of the season. If healthy, this roster can be a top-ten defense. The Bills should also consider a few adjustments to their secondary. Could Dane Jackson handle one of the starting roles, allowing the team to try benching Taron Johnson? They were willing to give Cam Lewis a shot, before he broke his wrist only a few plays into his start. The extra reliance on the blitz has paid dividends: ten sacks in the last three games, after 17 sacks in seven games. They should keep it going, even if Milano supplants Klein once again. It’s translating to turnovers, too—seven in the last three games, after nine in the previous seven matches. They should keep it up, just for that alone. But the blitz probably also helps the defense with its “attacking” mindset, in a year where it doesn’t have the crowd to hype it up. This would also be a great opportunity for two maligned players to step up in the pass rush and prove their worth down the stretch. It’s put up or shut up time for Harrison Phillips, a healthy scratch for four games this year. Rookie second rounder A.J. Epenesa has barely played this year, and has two pressures and a sack to this point in his career. The AFC playoff picture has its fair share of dangerous passing attacks, led by offensive maestro Patrick Mahomes. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans feature outstanding skill talents and efficient quarterbacks. If the Las Vegas Raiders qualify for the postseason, Derek Carr is in the middle of a career-defining year. The second tier, though, isn’t too scary—Philip Rivers, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson all have their fair share of flaws. The Bills’ passing defense, even in a down year, is strong enough to hang with any of these groups (perhaps excepting the Chiefs). 2021 Outlook In the offseason, a few defensive starters and rotational players will be free agents. Matt Milano is the most important name. Trent Murphy, Josh Norman, and Dean Marlowe are the other ones. Then there are a handful of restricted free agents. Levi Wallace, Justin Zimmer, and Andre Smith make up that list, while Cam Lewis is an exclusive-rights free agent. In this article is where we’ll focus on the names in the passing game. That includes Norman, Marlowe, Wallace, and Lewis. Let’s start with some of the easy decisions. Tendering Cam Lewis costs almost nothing and gives him another chance, after he earned his way onto the roster this year. The team should also tender Levi Wallace. As an undrafted free agent, the Bills could take a risk and save a million dollars by giving him the “original round” tender, knowing that another team could sign him away for no compensation. Even though the Bills could upgrade at CB2, Wallace still has 29 starts in three years. A second-round tender would lock him up for a relatively low price, at least for a cornerback. Re-signing those two players right there will give the Bills five cornerbacks in the depth chart going into 2021. They’ll also start the year with a sixth cornerback. E.J. Gaines opted out of this season, in case you forgot. So his contract was deferred to 2021. Gaines hasn’t played since 2018, because of injuries, but depth is depth. Talk about a cursed year for Norman. With six games remaining, we’ve already seen him suffer three hamstring injuries and get infected with COVID-19. In three games, he had 18 tackles, two passes defended, forced a fumble, and recovered two fumbles. But availability is the most important ability. Will the Bills give him another chance in his age-33 season? Definitely not for $6 million. Marlowe has been a useful backup safety and “big nickel” option for the Bills for a while. He’s low cost and knows his assignment, and the Bills would probably like to bring him back again if he’ll take under $2 million. That said, given that the Bills play so much nickel, it’s time to talk about upgrading. Marlowe isn’t a playmaker, and Taron Johnson’s limitation are well known. In free agency, Desmond King and Cameron Sutton could be big prizes at nickel. Marcus Maye and Karl Joseph might also work as box safeties who can play the slot. Looking to the draft, Ohio State’s Shaun Wade is probably the top slot defender in range for the Bills. Asante Samuel Jr. might also work there. Thinking about Buffalo (Big) Nickel types, you can look at safeties and smaller linebackers who might work out there. The top prize would be Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Listed at 6’1” and 215 lbs, he’s explosive enough to rush the passer or carry tight ends down the seam. He could play as the “big nickel” and also give the team Matt Milano insurance. Jevon Holland and Bubba Bolden could also have an impact in the slot, and the high-risk, high-reward option is Florida State’s Hamsah Nasirildeen. He’s 6’4” and 220 lbs, and an athletic team leader, but suffered a season-ending leg injury in 2019 that also caused him to miss the first seven games of 2020. Say the Bills bring back Wallace, Lewis, and Marlowe, but let Norman walk. Here’s how the secondary would stack up in 2021: Outside cornerback: Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace, Dane Jackson, E.J. Gaines Slot cornerback: Taron Johnson, Cam Lewis Strong safety: Jordan Poyer, Dean Marlowe, Siran Neal Free safety: Micah Hyde, Jaquan Johnson Looking through this, the Bills would have their usual starters intact for essentially a fourth consecutive season, and the depth in place will carry over as well. Hyde, Taron Johnson, Levi Wallace, and Siran Neal would all be unrestricted free agents in 2022, so it’s a big evaluation year for the group. View the full article
  12. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Fix yourself a drink before diving into this one. The Buffalo Bills have played through two-thirds of their season, compiling a 7-3 record in their first ten games. It’s an appealing place to be—in sole possession of the AFC East lead—but things aren’t perfect. The bye-week break is the perfect time for self-scouting, understanding a team’s strengths and weaknesses, and thinking about the future. Let’s go ahead and do that—with an eye focused on the Bills’ rushing defense. We’ve seen some historically bad rushing defenses from the Buffalo Bills. This year’s defense isn’t in that territory, but it’s still pretty awful. Through ten games, the Bills rank 28th in rushing yards allowed, in rushing touchdowns allowed, and in rushing yards per carry allowed. NFL teams have taken 280 carries against the Bills, and 108 of them (38.6 percent) have ended in either a first down or a touchdown. The Bills rank dead last in rushing success rate, a stat that tracks the amount of plays that keep an offense “on track” to move the chains; 61 percent of running plays have “succeeded” against the Bills. Surprisingly, though, the Bills haven’t allowed a dramatic number of explosive runs (10+ yards per carry)—only 31 out of 280. Instead, they’re just consistently losing at the line of scrimmage. 2020 Bills rushing defense stats (Source: sharpfootballstats.com) By far the strongest preference for the Bills’ opponents is running up the gut. Runs into the A gap are succeeding 69 percent of the time, per Sharp Football Stats. 12.9 percent of those runs net ten or more yards, which is astonishing both because it’s 50 percent higher than the league aggregate, and because conventional wisdom would tell you that runs behind the center should be the most likely ones to shut down before they can reach ten yards. One major part of this problem, and I think it cannot be overstated, has been the injury situation at linebacker. Tremaine Edmunds suffered a shoulder injury Week 1, and only missed one game in playing through pain in his recovery process. But the caliber of play was not at his standard. Edmunds finally stopped showing up on the injury report around Week 8, and his last two weeks have been outstanding. Chasing down Kyler Murray in the open field: that’s the Tremaine Edmunds we know and love. Then we get to Matt Milano. Through his first three seasons, Matt Milano had 26 tackles-for-loss. This year, he has one. The difference: that darn injury bug. A hamstring, then a sprained (possibly even lightly torn) pectoral muscle, have been absolutely dogging him all season. When healthy, Milano is a roaming missile on the playing field. Along with that, he’s a force multiplier for Edmunds. Third linebacker A.J. Klein doesn’t have Milano’s speed (which we’ll cover more when discussing the pass defense) and he’s not much better at defeating blocks from offensive linemen. Backup Tyrel Dodson has flashed now and then, but is dealing with his own injury at the moment. So until the linebackers are fully recovered, this team won’t be at its best. A.J. Klein just isn’t athletic enough to make this tackle in space. The lack of linebacker speed and range is one factor with runs reaching the secondary, but it all starts with the work up front. I’m sure, by now, you’re familiar with Buffalo’s underwhelming stable of defensive tackles. There’s no Star Lotulelei on the roster this year. Vernon Butler, despite measuring in at 6’4” and 330 lbs, can’t nail the nose tackle gig. Quinton Jefferson isn’t the answer there, and Harrison Phillips has been a healthy scratch in four games this year. And that leaves... Justin Zimmer? The former practice squad member saved a win against the New England Patriots and, lest we forget, he almost did the same thing when he appeared to force a fumble against the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks earlier. So the Bills have worked him into their rotation, but he’s not saving the day here. Ed Oliver is being asked to do a lot, as our staff showed last week. But he can’t do it all himself. The Chiefs put on a clinic for erasing defensive tackles against the Bills. The defensive ends are doing their job, for the most part. There have been occasional lapses in containment, which hurt the team against mobile quarterbacks like Kyler Murray. When it comes to the secondary, we’ve seen effective run support, although Taron Johnson was a weakness earlier in the season. He’s shaped up and had a few outstanding weeks in this department. Ultimately, no matter how you swing it, the 2020 Bills’ defense has a weakness: the line of scrimmage against an interior offensive line. The success or failure of this team will have to depend on how they mitigate this weakness. Through the end of 2020 Matt Milano’s healthy return is essential to the team making a deep playoff run. The Bills are doing their best to keep the linebackers operational without him. But Milano is a Pro Bowl talent who supports Edmunds in the best way. It’s too late for the Bills to improve their defensive tackle situation through a trade. They haven’t shown any interest in trolling the waiver wire or their phone book for any options, aside from the Justin Zimmer promotion. Sooo... here’s hoping that Harrison Phillips has a late-season surge? It’s definitely not thrilling to think ahead to possible postseason matchups with the Cleveland Browns or the Baltimore Ravens or the Tennessee Titans. You might as well pencil in 200 rushing yards in those matchups. That said... if Milano and Edmunds are actually healthy down the stretch, could we see this defense playing with more confidence? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. 2021 outlook In the offseason, a few defensive starters and rotational players will be free agents. Matt Milano is the most important name. Trent Murphy, Josh Norman, and Dean Marlowe are the other ones. Then there are a handful of restricted free agents. Levi Wallace, Justin Zimmer, and Andre Smith make up that list, while Cam Lewis is an exclusive-rights free agent. We’ll cover the players who primarily affect the running game in here. That means Milano, Murphy, Zimmer, and Smith. First, though, there’s one bit of good news: Star Lotulelei is returning after opting out of the 2020 season! In February, if I told you the nose tackle would miss the year, Bills fans probably wouldn’t have cared one way or the other, but I suspect he’s sorely missed at this point. The Bills will have a reliable one-technique on the roster next year. Justin Zimmer and Andre Smith could be offered RFA tenders, but the price would probably outweigh their contributions this season. Zimmer has 14 tackles and 2 TFLs. Smith is mainly a special teams mainstay, and has three tackles. So the Bills should let those players walk, or re-sign them to contracts near the league minimum. With Murphy, the Bills have a pretty straightforward decision to let him walk. No matter how much general manager Brandon Beane gives lip service to the idea that Trent Murphy is a difference-maker for this team, there’s no way he’s worth the $15 million in cash paid in the last two years. Through ten games this year, Murphy has 17 tackles and two sacks. For a player on the field half the time, that’s not good enough. The number-one priority for the Bills in this offseason will be dealing with Matt Milano, an unrestricted free agent. He was paid only $665,000 this year, but given his on-field production the last four years, his market value is more like a four-year, $52 million contract (average annual value of $13 million per year). Going into the season, extending Milano was a matter of when, not if. Two circumstances unbalanced the equation. First and biggest, was COVID-19. The coronavirus eviscerated league revenues, which means the salary cap (normally guaranteed to take a healthy rise every year) is projected to drop next season. The Bills barely have any cap room remaining this year, and in 2021 they’ll have only $5 million in cap space with 40 players under contract. Yeesh. Of course, this problem affects half the league. Either every player signs a dirt cheap free-agent deal, everyone takes a pay cut, or the league negotiates a special agreement to raise the salary cap anyway. But until something changes, the Bills don’t have spare change to re-sign Milano. The second extenuating circumstance is Milano’s injury situation. Through three years, he’d only missed four games—and three of those came from a broken leg. This year was different. Milano pulled a hamstring in the season opener, then injured his pectoral muscle a few weeks later. He tried resting, and he tried gutting out limited reps, but the Bills shut him down after Week 8. Milano is set to miss six of the first 11 games of the year from injury. Of course, neither a hamstring nor a pectoral injury are the type of injury to linger beyond the current season. Heck, Jon Feliciano is playing fine after tearing his pectoral in the summer. At the end of the day, Milano’s fate should only come down to the financial question. And to take that a step further, if the Bills can’t afford to re-sign Milano, they probably can’t afford to sign a worthwhile replacement. In the event that the Bills could afford to pay Milano, but would prefer someone else, who’s out there? Leonard Floyd, Kyler Fackrell, and Bud Dupree are more of pass-rushing elephant linebackers. Haason Reddick, Eric Wilson, and Jayon Brown could be options. If they look to the draft, Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah is probably the best option that the Bills could take in round one. All in all, though, the Bills would probably prefer to pair Milano and Edmunds for many years to come. If Milano returns, the Bills’ defensive front seven is pretty full for 2021: DT: Star Lotulelei, Ed Oliver, Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Butler, Harrison Phillips DE: Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, A.J. Epenesa, Darryl Johnson LB: Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, A.J. Klein, Tyler Matakevich, Tyrel Dodson, Del’Shawn Phillips That’s a solid group. Could it be upgraded? Sure. The Bills would probably like another edge rusher, especially with Hughes and Addison getting on in age. Hughes is a free agent in 2022, too. You could also look for a third starting-caliber linebacker. Buffalo would be good with either a coverage-focused nickel linebacker, or a hybrid edge rusher like Lorenzo Alexander. That would let them run a base defense (or something like it) against pretty much any personnel package they face. View the full article
  13. Leftover turkey? Not a problem as we charge things up! Where there’s football, there’s food. There are many great options in the category of “traditional fare” but you might be in the mood for something different. Wingin’ It has you covered with a new Buffalo sauce-inspired recipe every week of the Buffalo Bills’ season. Get ready to win big in your kitchen as the Bills get ready for the Los Angeles Chargers! We’ve had a bye week and Thanksgiving and everyone is ramping up for the game. Combine all these factors and I’m betting a lot of you aren’t in the mood for a complex recipe. And you probably have some turkey you need to get rid in your fridge. We have you covered this week as we take the Thanksgiving scraps and give them a Wingin’ It makeover. Cranberry (wing) sauce for leftover sandwiches Serves: 4 - 8 Active Time: 15 min Total Time: 15 min Ingredients 1⁄3 of a 14 oz can of jellied cranberry sauce 1⁄3 cup hot sauce 4 Tbsp unsalted butter Seriously, just three ingredients this week. You probably did enough on Thursday Directions Add hot sauce and jelly to medium saucepan on LOW. Stir until mostly combined, about 8-10 min, chopping the jelly as you go*. Stir in butter until well blended; remove from heat. Add to sandwiches made from Thanksgiving leftovers and enjoy**. Wingin’ It Tips *You’ll likely end up with some small pieces of jelly that don’t blend in. They won’t impact taste so don’t go crazy trying to get it perfectly blended. You can remove them easily enough with a fork if it bothers you. **Turkey is of course what I’m imagining but feel free to be creative with this recipe. BONUS thing! Stuffing slider rolls! Feel free to just use bread, but if you have a lot of leftover stuffing you can enhance the leftover theme by making stuffing slider rolls. If you noticed that the bread I used was lumpy that’s why. Here’s how to make them: Preheat frying pan with plenty of butter on MED. Roll leftover stuffing into balls and then squish to form a half roll/bun shape. Add the rolls to the pan and fry like you would grilled cheese, flipping to brown both sides (be very careful). These are pretty fragile as rolls and you may need to squeeze them pretty tightly to even get them to stick together enough to fry/flip. Most likely it’ll be a forkin’ situation too rather than picking it up. View the full article
  14. Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images We’ve got some local college football to watch for Thanksgiving weekend Thanksgiving weekend means the beginning of the end for college football’s regular season and the start of Bowl season draws near. As we remain stuck with our families this Thanksgiving weekend—either virtually or in-person—it seems like as good a time as any to treat ourselves to some local college football prospects. So while we should pay attention to the Iron Bowl, Michigan-Penn State and this week’s Game of the Week, be sure to click on over to Syracuse and Buffalo. So let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend! Keep your eyes on: Jaret Patterson RB (Buffalo) This week’s game against Kent State will likely decide the MAC Champion, and Patterson must have a big game if the Bulls want to emerge victorious. The junior tailback may be the most entertaining to watch in not just the MAC, but at the entire collegiate level. He’s not gifted with true deep speed, but he maximizes every inch of athletic talent, then combines that with vision and the ability to make defenders miss in a phone booth. Being only 5’9” in height is actually to his benefit, as it keeps him low to the ground and balanced. Other players to watch: Jalen Mayfield OT (Michigan) The junior right tackle has been dealing with a high ankle sprain for a couple of weeks, so it’s questionable if he’ll suit up against Penn State this week. If he does play, he can expect a heavy dose of Nittany Lions pass rushers Shaka Toney and Jayson Oweh, who should provide a mix of various types of rush techniques for Mayfield to defense against. It promises to be a strong test for the underclassman. Nate Landman LB (Colorado) Colorado has done well to produce linebackers in recent years, and the senior is quietly having a strong start to the season. Although he’s a tackling machine and his instincts appear to be strong, the question with Landman is if he has the athleticism to cover. That will be something he’ll particularly need to show this week against USC—a team that loves to target their talented slot receivers and 6’5” senior tight end Erik Krommenhoek. Kenny Pickett QB (Pittsburgh) As the season has gone on and the numbers keep improving Pickett’s positive press has grown and started to generate comparison’s to Sam Darnold as a prospect coming out of college. Pickett has similar overall physical talents, and has that same type of off-schedule ability to throw dimes when scrambling or under duress. This week he’ll essentially need to pull a rabbit out of a hat though if he hopes to keep up with Clemson. But any type of positive performance would continue to raise his stock. Ifeatu Melifonwu CB (Syracuse) The brother of former second-round pick Obi Melifonwu, Ifeatu deserves more press and attention as a shutdown cornerback. Although Syracuse’s season has been flushed down the drain at 1-8, the junior has yet to give up a touchdown pass and is among the leaders in PFF grades, despite only one interception on the season. Coming into the Carrier Dome this week is N.C. State, which has a solid group of receivers and tight ends, including Emeka Emezie. We’ll see if Melifonwu is able to step in front of a pass to get those interception numbers up. Game of the Week Pittsburgh at No. 3 Clemson Saturday, 12:00 P.M. EST FOX Thought it would be the Iron Bowl? Nope. This week we’re checking back in with the ACC. Clemson comes into this game with a newly healthy Trevor Lawrence looking to get back into a groove. It remains to be seen if scouts have fallen in love with running back Travis Etienne’s skillset, but he has all of the production you want at the position. Meanwhile dynamic receiver Amari Rodgers should appreciate catching passes again from Lawrence. On defense, Clemson isn’t as deep as in past seasons, with a couple intriguing players in edge rusher Xavier Thomas and cornerback Derion Kendrick. Pittsburgh stalks into Death Valley on a bit of a roll, have dominated their last two opponents in both phases. On offense, Pickett’s reliable target in the passing game is senior wide receiver DJ Turner, and he is kept upright thanks to guard Bryce Hargrove—who just earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors. The talent on defense for the Panthers is equally strong, headlined by their defensive line. Defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman and edge rusher Patrick Jones II have combined for 18.5 sacks on the season. Although Paris Ford recently opted out, the secondary is kept strong thanks to fellow safety Damar Hamlin. View the full article
  15. Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports The rookie has a chance to shine against the Chargers The bye week is over, and the Buffalo Bills are back at home ready to face the Los Angeles Chargers. This edition of Four Downs has plenty to get you ready for the game, as the Bills look to improve to 8-3. Gabriel Davis gets another opportunity With John Brown already ruled out for Sunday’s game, rookie Gabriel Davis will have some big shoes to fill on offense. The UCF-product has shined at times this season, with 19 receptions for 275 yards and three touchdowns throughout ten games. As expected from a rookie, there has been some inconsistency with him this season. Davis’s potential was on display in the Week 9 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, where he caught four of five targets for 70 yards and a touchdown. This is a prime example of what Davis can bring to the Bills’ offense, but has been more of an exception than the norm. With Brown battling through numerous injuries this season, Davis will be an important weapon for Josh Allen throughout the rest of the season. Hopefully this begins with Davis making the most of the opportunity that should present itself against the Chargers. Steve Tasker belongs As you would have seen earlier this week, Steve Tasker and Cornelius Bennett were named semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While it is nice to see Bennett on the list, I would argue that Tasker should have been enshrined years ago. He changed the face of special teams, was named First-Team All-Pro seven times, and is an eight-time semifinalist for the Hall. It might be easy to overlook special teams players when it comes to selecting a class each year, but Tasker should not be overlooked any longer. Pod of the Week I realize that I highlight Bruce Nolan often in this space, and Thursday’s episode of The Bruce Exclusive takes the honors once again. If you struggle to understand quarterback metrics (like I do), I would highly recommend that you check this out. You can accompany it with this 3,800 word piece written by Bruce that goes into further explanation around Passer Rating, QBR, and much more. Prediction: Bills 38, Chargers 31 The final score may look closer than this game actually is, with some garbage time scores late in the fourth quarter by the Chargers. Justin Herbert is impressive against Buffalo, but some early turnovers allow the Bills to jump ahead in the first half. Stefon Diggs officially passes the 1,000 mark on the season, thanks to another 300-yard passing game from Josh Allen. View the full article
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