How The Bills Can Shock The World In 2019
Buffalo is 5-1 and is in the AFC East hunt
- The Buffalo Bills are now 9-0 when committing one or fewer turnovers dating back to the start of last season and are 5-1 this year.
- The New England Patriots (7-0) lead the AFC East but only beat the Bills 16-10 when they played earlier in the season. They’ll get a chance to avenge that loss later in the season.
- Buffalo’s 4.9 yards per carry ranks fifth in the NFL.
- They have a very easy schedule coming up; each of their next five games come against teams with losing records.
This Week’s Ugly Win
The Bills hosted the winless Dolphins in Buffalo but trailed 14-9 entering the fourth quarter in a game that had few possessions. The Bills scored on three of their five first half possessions, but could only come away with field goals as they were stymied inside the Miami 30 yard line.
The Bills allowed Fitzpatrick to throw for 282 yards, but forced timely turnovers in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins marched down the field on the first possession of the second half, a 16-play, 63 yard drive that ended in a Tre’Davious White interception at the Buffalo two-yard line. The drive took up nearly ten minutes, and the following Bills possession would extend more than six minutes as the Bills took 12 plays to go 98 yards before Josh Allen connected with John Brown for a 20 yard score. After running Allen on a keeper for the two point conversion, the Bills led 17-14 with 13:50 remaining. The Dolphins and Bills would exchange punts before a White forced a Preston Williams fumble recovered by Jerry Hughes to set up the Bills offense in the red zone.
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The Bills scored soon after on a three yard pass from Allen to Cole Beasley to give Buffalo a 24-14 lead. Ryan Fitzpatrick went into his bag of tricks and ran for a gritty 11-yard score as he lowered his shoulder at the goal line with 1:45 to play, but the Dolphins ran out of Fitzmagic when their onside kick attempt was returned 45 yards by Micah Hyde for a touchdown to ice Buffalo’s 31-21 win.
Allen finished 16-for-26 for 202 yards, two touchdowns while rushing for 32 yards on four carries and remaining turnover free. Frank Gore added 11 carries for 55 yards as the Bills ran for 117 yards while averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
The 5-1 Start
Bill Parcels once said, “You are what your record says you are.” The Bills are 5-1, with their only loss coming by one possession to the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. However, Buffalo’s five wins have come against teams with a combined record of 6-26.
The offense has moved the ball, but struggles to finish drives in the red zone. Josh Allen has made progress from last year, but much more is needed for them to become a contender in the AFC for a Super Bowl appearance.
However, the Bills don’t need to be the best team in the AFC to win, but only the better team on the field against their opponent. So far, their schedule has proven favorable and will continue to do so as their next five games are all against teams with losing records. They have won by playing clean football, running the ball while minimizing turnovers and letting their elite defense wreak havoc, but they will need to improve in the red zone to beat the NFL’s best.
Close Loss To New England
In their lone matchup against a team with a winning record, the Bills defense stepped up as they allowed Tom Brady and company to score just nine points on offense in Buffalo’s 16-10 loss (Matthew Slater had an 11-yard blocked punt returned for a touchdown for the Patriots). The Bills held Brady to his lowest passer rating in 13 seasons as he was just 18-for-39 for 150 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception.
New England’s running game was also held in check as Sony Michel and company were held to just 74 rushing yards on 3.2 yards per carry. The Bills defense has shown that it can take over games and beat bad teams (as it did Sunday) but Buffalo also played their best game against their toughest competition to date. The Bills Mafia defense is legit, and they will keep this team competitive, but they need Allen to step up if they want to do more than just compete. He totaled four turnovers in the loss to the Patriots before a Duron Harmon helmet-to-helmet hit knocked him out for the game.
Each of Buffalo’s next five games come against teams with losing records and seven of Buffalo’s final ten games are against losing teams. The schedule sets up favorably for this team to compete for the AFC East crown. If the Bills can take care of business by winning with defense and taking care of the football, there is a good chance that their week 16 matchup in New England will determine the AFC East title.
Even if they don’t win the division, the Bills are sitting pretty in the AFC Wild Card race. Outside of the division leaders in the AFC, the Texans are the only other team with a winning record. It looks like the Bills, the loser of the AFC South crown (Texans/Colts) and the Raiders will be the three teams vying for two wild card spots unless a team like the underachieving Browns (who are 2-4 with a matchup against the Patriots looming this week) can go on a run. The Buffalo defense will travel, especially in the playoffs, but playing this defense in the cold of Buffalo winter would provide an even taller task, especially for the likes of pass-heavy teams like the Chiefs and Patriots.
The Bills are 9-0 when committing one or fewer turnovers dating back to the start of last season. The defense has been the best unit in the NFL through six games behind the historically great Patriots and 49ers defenses as the Bills are third in total defense and yards per play allowed. The Bills have the fourth best passing defense as they have allowed just 201.3 yards per game through the air while sporting the tenth best rushing defense (91.3 rushing yards per game allowed). Buffalo’s 4.9 yards per carry rank fifth in the league while their 135.8 yards per game on the ground rank seventh.
They are a solid team on each line, but to challenge the likes of the Chiefs, Patriots and Ravens they will need to improve on their passing offense which ranks 20th with 225.3 passing yards per game. Allen doesn’t need to light up the scoreboard and throw for 300-plus yards per game, but he needs to make this Bills offense more effective in scoring territory. Allen did this in the second half against Miami as Buffalo’s two possessions inside the 30 both went for touchdowns after settling for three field goals in the first half. The Bills can also utilize his wide 237-pound frame in the red zone (as they did on the successful two-point conversion) to put more pressure on opposing defenses and open up play action further.
The Bills defense and running game should get them into the playoffs with their manageable schedule going forward, but Josh Allen must improve his 7:7 TD:INT ratio if the Bills hope to win the AFC East outright.