The Buffalo Bills enter Week 12 coming off of a win for the first time in three weeks after snapping their two-game mini-skid with a 31-23 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 11. Week 12 sees the Bills head right back to Detroit for a Thanksgiving showdown with the home-standing Lions. Buffalo is 2-0 on Turkey Day under Sean McDermott. Can they make it three straight? Here are the top five things I believe Buffalo needs to do to earn another win in Michigan.
Josh Allen threw four picks and had three fumbles (one lost) during the Bills’ back-to-back losses before the Browns game. He was a very tempered version of himself in Detroit, throwing for under 200 yards and rushing for seven more, but the Bills got the win. Allen doesn’t necessarily need to be that cautious with the ball on Thanksgiving, however, the zero turnovers Sunday can’t be ignored. Buffalo has far more talent than Detroit, so extra possessions and short fields may be their best shot at a win. The Lions have shown that importance by winning the turnover battle SEVEN TO ONE in those three straight wins.
Building off of ball control is successfully running the ball. This is something the Bills should be able to do against a poor Detroit run D. Heading into week 12, the Lions are 30th in yards allowed per attempt at 5.2. They come in 31st in rushing yards allowed per game at 153.7 and last in rushing TDs allowed per game at 1.7 scores per contest. Couple those stats with the fact that the Bills are coming off of a game where Devin Singletary and James Cook both rushed for 86 yards, and you’re seeing a Thanksgiving recipe for success. On the other side of the ball, the Bills dominated the Browns’ Nick Chubb on the ground, holding him to 1.36 yards per attempt, the second-fewest he has mustered since the fourth game of his career. If they can do that to D’Andre Swift, a win should again come back to Western New York.
I thought the Bills may try and take advantage of the fast surface in Ford Field last week, but instead, it was a controlled domination. This week they get a Lions team that is yikers against the pass. Heading into Thanksgiving, Detroit is 28th in opponent passing yards per game at 262.2 and 32nd at 7.8 yards per pass. To make things worse for the Lions, those stats are mostly with former third-overall selection CB Jeff Okudah who has been ruled out with a head injury. If Allen and the Bills pass catchers are going to get back on track, Thursday is the day.
Tame the Young Cubs
These stats are ripped from the Lions’ website, but they stuck out to me, and I thought were worth sharing here. Through week 11, Detroit rookies have a combined 45 pressures, the most among any rookie class, per Pro Football Focus. That group also has combined for five picks, again the most of any class. Michigan product Aiden Hutchinson has lived up to the billing of being the second-overall pick and is worth keeping an eye on for Bills’ fans.
All Gas, No Brakes
The Bills got back to the second half scoring in last week’s win, but it did come in a bit different of a fashion. Buffalo scored on all five of their second-half possessions, not counting the kneel-down. Yes, four of those were field goals, but it was enough to keep the Browns at least an arm’s reach away for most of the final 30 minutes. Winning the second half-handedly was a staple for the Bills before the bye week, but they stumbled in that category the first three games out and went just 1-2. Getting back to winning the second half big will go a long way to climbing back to the top of the AFC.