Bills vs Chargers: 5 keys to victory in NFL Week 16

12/21/2023
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After taking down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, then Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, two MVP-worthy quarterbacks and playoff teams, the Buffalo Bills could be in for a letdown game against a Los Angeles Chargers squad that was just embarrassed on Thursday Night Football to divisional foe Las Vegas. Speaking of Vegas, the sports books do not believe Buffalo is in line for that sort of a trap game, as they have the Bills pegged as 11.5-point favorites. As of writing this, the implied score is approximately 28-17 in favor of Buffalo. Oddly, with how things are going of late for both units, I’m not sure that score feels lopsided enough. How do the Bills take care of business out in SoCal? I’m glad you asked. Here are my five keys to a Buffalo victory when the Bills take the field Saturday night in California.

Avoid The Surge

The Chargers fired head coach Brandon Staley after getting destroyed by the Raiders in primetime last Thursday. That loss capped what is a run of losing five of six for Los Angeles. With the old coach relieved of his duties, in steps interim head coach Giff Smith. In an ironic twist, Smith started his NFL coaching career in Buffalo as a defensive line coach for the Bills from 2010 to 2012. You would think there is an inevitable bounce in the Chargers’ step from having a new voice in charge. You also hope, for their sake, that this would give them a boost at the beginning of the game. Buffalo simply needs to hold serve until that adrenaline rush wears off. 

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SoCal Mafia

It’s comical how poor the home attendance often is for the Chargers. It doesn’t seem to matter who they are playing, the home-field advantage for L.A. was left in San Diego. Bills Mafia doesn’t need an excuse to travel well to games, but heading to SoCal in December sounds like a great one to me. Show up and show out!

Christmas Cook’ing

I’ve written about it several times in the last few weeks, but James Cook is a different animal under Joe Brady as the play-caller. To summarize, he has 564 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns in four games with Brady as the offensive coordinator. Those numbers should continue against a Chargers team ranked 17th in yards per carry allowed with 4.2 and 26th in opponents rushing TDs per game at 1.1. As Josh Allen said, “Let James Cook.”

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Manage Mack

At the start of the season, the Chargers looked to have a star-studded cast of characters on defense. Through week fifteen, it appears UB product Khalil Mack is the only one truly living up to that hype. Mack’s 15 sacks are third in the NFL, just one off the pace of league-leading TJ Watt. The former Bull also has 16 QB hits, eight pass deflections, and five forced fumbles. In short, he can destroy a game plan on his own. Spencer Brown, Dion Dawkins, and crew need to keep Allen clean.

Just Keep Scoring

The Chargers defense allows 28.6 points per game, the 28th worst in the NFL. They just allowed 51 to Aiden O’Connell and the lowly  Raiders. Conversely, Buffalo’s offense is putting up 27.1 points per game, good enough for sixth-best in the league. I know it is a simplistic way to look at things, but go score points and watch L.A. fold like plastic tailgate furniture.

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