Bills vs. Eagles: 5 keys to victory in NFL Week 12

11/25/2023
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The Buffalo Bills are entering the toughest stretch of their season as they visit the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, then host the Dallas Cowboys. Their win last week brought Buffalo back over .500 on the year, sitting at 6-5 entering the pivotal matchup in Philadelphia. At the time of writing this, the Bills are three-point dogs, but that number has been bet down from 3.5 where it opened. The current over/under is 49, giving us an implied score of roughly 26-23 for the Eagles. I’m not sure Bills Mafia is ready for that type of nail-biter after nearly two months straight of close games. As we’ve learned the last few weeks, the Vegas spread doesn’t seem to apply much to the Bills. So, how is Buffalo going to outsmart the mega-resorts in Sin City? Here are my five keys to a Buffalo Bills victory when they take the field for a 4:25 kickoff in Philly.

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Make Jalen Hurt(s)

The Bills are one of the better teams in the NFL at getting after the quarterback. Buffalo is currently third in sacks per game at 3.5. They will need all that and some when they take on an MVP favorite in Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts. Philadelphia is coming off a game where it allowed five sacks to the Chiefs, who average almost identical sack numbers on the season to the Bills. Heading into this one, the Eagles allow 2.7 sacks per game, which is 22nd in the NFL. Put it all together, and Buffalo should have chances to make moves in the backfield.

Second-ary

The Bills made a huge trade for corner Rasul Douglas at the deadline, but at that time we didn’t know how large it would become. Since the move, Douglas (former Eagles DB) has played every defensive snap for Buffalo. He has become their No. 1 corner. With the injuries at DB and a matchup with AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith coming up, he will be even more valuable. If Douglas can limit Brown or Smith while Benford and company secure the other WR, the Bills’ defense will have a chance to keep it close for the offense.

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Move Swift-ly

If Brandon Beane trading for Douglas was the best in-season move, the Eagles acquiring D’Andre Smith may have been the best move during the offseason. Smith is part of a backfield that is currently eighth in the NFL in rush at 128.1 yards per game. They’re fifth in rushing touchdowns per game at 1.5 and third in attempts per game at 31.7. The Bills allow 110.5 ground yards per game, 16th overall. In short, if the Bills can win against the Eagles rush, they can win the game.

Own the Middle

I start this one by saying that the Eagles linebackers are prime for being beaten in the passing game. Their group is also banged up; not like losing Matt Milano, but it is dinged nonetheless. The remaining guys are mostly downhill-style backers who attack the gaps against the run. From there, take a look at these NextGenStats charts on how Josh Allen took advantage of the middle of the field in his first game under Joe Brady. It’s a small sample size, but that is why I shared both games against the Jets, so we have a common opponent. In Week 1’s loss, he was 4/7 for 32 yards and a pair of picks. In last week’s win, Allen was 8/8 for 181 yards and a touchdown. One of those sounds was better than the other.

Tush Push

The key to stopping the “tush push” or “brotherly shove” is not allowing the Eagles to get into third or fourth and short, especially at the goal line. That’s easier said than done, so when they get into that bunch formation, the question becomes: how does Buffalo attack it? Do they go with as much mass as possible with Settle, Phillips, Ford, and Joseph, or do they attempt to utilize athleticism with Oliver, Floyd, Epenesa, and Rousseau? A stop or two in those situations will tilt the table in Buffalo’s favor, but that’s easier said than done.

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