Don’t look now but the Buffalo Bills are in the home stretch of the regular season. They’re down to the final four weeks, the final month of it all. It won’t be easy, though. The Bills have to play against a physical Pittsburgh Steelers team before ending the season against their two toughest divisional opponents.
That being said, let’s put a bow on top of the Bills Week 13 opponent: San Francisco 49ers.
I’ll be honest, I thought this was a potential trap game for the Bills. Having to travel out west and play against a strong defensive team in the 49ers wasn’t going to be easy. Despite the injuries to the 49ers this season, they have 5th best defense in total yards per game with 315.2 yards allowed. Meanwhile, they’ve got a veteran cornerback in Richard Sherman and one of the best linebackers in the league with Fred Warner.
Regardless, the Bills put their foot on the gas and they never once looked at the brakes. Without question, it was one of their best offensive showings on the season and it was all led by their quarterback, Josh Allen. Let’s take a look at three takeaways from the Bills ninth win of the season!
Josh Allen makes a statement
I know Allen had over 400 yards and four touchdowns against the Dolphins in the second week of the season but I’ll be honest, he played some of his best football on Monday night. Despite there being an empty stadium in Arizona, Allen got to play in front of a national audience and he put on one hell of a show.
Against the 49ers, he finished 32-of-40 for 375 yards and four touchdowns. The stat line is pretty but his throws were even prettier. For example, take a look at the throw above. Allen fakes the hand-off and he’s got Gabriel Davis (WR 13) running a dig route over the middle of the field. This pass is perfectly placed over the middle of the field despite having a linebacker underneath, a cornerback draped over the shoulder of the receiver and a safety waiting to make contact on the receiver. This ball was a fingertip away from being deflected by Fred Warner (49ers LB 54) but Allen places this one right where it needs to be for the completion.
Aside from Allen playing well and executing the gameplay to perfection, we’ve gotta give some credit to Brian Daboll. He designed one hell of a playbook and had some impressive play calls against the 49ers. Without question, my favorite play was the jet-motion wheel route from Isaiah McKenzie for the touchdown. If Daboll can continue this type of consistency with his offense, the Bills will be tough to stop regardless of what defense is matched up against them. That being said, Allen made a statement on Monday night football and if you’re a Bills fan, you have to be beyond excited about the development from Allen. With the playoffs lingering, one can only hope that the statement made from Allen carries over to becoming one of the best young quarterbacks in the regular season and the playoffs.
Stefon Diggs most underrated wide receiver in football?
This isn’t any disrespect to Davante Adams, Kennan Allen or Julio Jones but Diggs might be the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL. That’s with 90 receptions on the season and a season worth of highlight reel catches, routes and toe-drags near the sideline. Diggs has been one of the best off-season additions in the history of the NFL and still doesn’t get enough credit.
No, I’m not being a fanboy, either. He’s honestly that good.
For example, he puts Jason Verrett in a blender and takes him to school. This is a terrific on so many levels. Diggs works the cornerback inside and then outside before spinning off the tackle for additional yardage. His feet never stop moving on the route. He bursts upfield but plants off his outside foot to make it look like he’s going to be going outside and up the sideline. Instead, he works back inside and then quickly turns back out towards the sideline where he’s wide open for the first down. This isn’t just a one-time play. This happens every single week for Diggs. He’s had 6 receptions or more in every single game this season except for one. That was Week 3 against the Rams where he finished with 49 yards on four receptions and a touchdown.
There’s no doubt the Bills made the right selection in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft by picking Davis. He’s been a nice find for the team and has produced for John Brown out of the lineup. Meanwhile, Cole Beasley has been fairly consistent every single week with 5 1/2 receptions per game this season. But Diggs is the player that helps put this offense over the top. As the Bills close out the season and start preparing for a playoff push, Diggs will be the most important piece on offense not named Allen.
Key defensive stops in the red-zone
For much of the season, the Bills have been in the middle of the road when it comes to red-zone defense. According to Pro Football Reference, they’re ranked 18th in the NFL with a 61.4 red-zone percentage. Against the 49ers, they made two crucial stops in the red-zone.
The first one happened on the 49ers first drive of the game. Keep in mind, this was right after the 49ers defense stopped the Bills on their opening drive of the game. The 49ers had to go 98 yards down the field to try and score and they nearly did just that. However, the Bills made great stop on 4th and goal from their own one-yard line. Jeff Wilson got the carry and was met by Vernon Butler and Tremaine Edmunds. The Bills ended up fumbling the ball on the very next play but seeing the defense make those types of stops with their backs against the wall.
Lastly, the Bills made another big stop late in the game. This was when the game was 34-17 in favor of the Bills and the 49ers ended up marching down the field with ease. However, Vernon Butler Jr., made a terrific stop on first-and-goal from the one-yard line. As you can see on the play above, he defeats the reach block and delivers quite the hit on Tevin Coleman to set up second-and-goal. Despite having a touchdown overturned on the next play and a false start, the 49ers were faced with third-and-goal from the 5-yard line and this led to a great interception by Tre’Davious White.