A team’s record in the preseason is about as valuable as my 4-year-old saying, “I promise.” Despite that, it is pretty neat to see that the Buffalo Bills are 10-2 in the preseason since 2019 and haven’t had a losing record in these exhibition games since 2017. They enter their final tune-up game against the Chicago Bears with an even 1-1 record.
With the final preseason game scheduled for Saturday at 1:00 in the Windy City and the opener against the Jets in New Jersey fast approaching, there are still several key positional battles to shake out before the final 53-man roster is released. Without further ado, here are the six storylines I’ll be watching for in Buffalo’s final preseason game.
Sean McDermott announced Thursday that the Bills starters would get some run against the Bears on Saturday. How many snaps will Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and the like get in Chicago? That is yet to be determined.
— Greg Vorse (@GregVorse) August 21, 2023
Allen played 16 snaps to open the loss in Pittsburgh, and Diggs saw the field for 13. I would assume that is where things go this weekend, too.
Who Plays When
As important as playing time is for guys trying to make the cut, when they play can be just as telling. If a guy is getting reps with the first-team offense or defense, the front office and McDermott want to see what they can do with those opportunities. For instance, Andy Isabella getting snaps with Josh Allen in practice has been noteworthy because this means he is being given a chance to prove himself while other depth WRs watch. These same observations can be true for how the offensive line shakes out, who gets the nod at CB2, and depth at defensive end, among other spots.
The Final Push
Unlike previous seasons where teams gradually cut their roster down from 90 to 53 with moves coming after each preseason game, this season is one huge cut-down day on Tuesday, August 29. That is just three days after the Bills final exhibition game. Knowing this is the last shot will either pressure these guys into diamonds or make them crumble. It is always fascinating to watch the fringe guys as the clock winds down.
Kyle Allen Experience
Yes, this title is a play on words of the Mick Vick Experience since the former NFL QB was at Bills’ practice this week. After Josh Allen and the starters depart on Saturday, Kyle Allen should get the rest of the action with Matt Barkley nursing an elbow injury. Before that injury, Matt Barkley was the clear winner in the backup quarterback competition against the Colts, but he threw that away – quite literally – against the Steelers. Down in the Steel City, Kyle Allen looked the part of Josh Allen’s primary backup. At this point, K. Allen would have to threw up massive chunks of deep-dish pizza to not have that spot locked up heading into week one.
There are still a lot of questions around the Bills despite their roster being pretty loaded to start camp. Who wins CB2? Who takes ownership of the fifth defensive end spot? What does MLB look like in the last go around? Is there any shakeup along the offensive line? A lot of decisions need to be made before Monday, September 11.
Simply do whatever it is you do to try and help the Bills win but aim it towards them staying healthy.