The Buffalo Bills kicked off the 2023 preseason with a 23-19 home win over the Indianapolis Colts. Buffalo’s two biggest stars didn’t play on Saturday, as Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs both played the role of coach at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park. Will they play next Saturday in Pittsburgh? That is yet to be announced. Before we turn the page to the Steel City, here are a handful of “would you believe me if I said…” stats from your Buffalo Bills’ first preseason game.
Would You Believe Me If I Said… Buffalo owned the middle of the field?
During this offseason we wanted the Bills to get more stout along the offensive and defensive lines. While I remind us all it was just a preseason game, they did that on Saturday, according to NFL’s Game Statistics and Information System. In that game, the Bills ran the ball up the middle 12 times for an average of 4.25 yards per attempt. On the defensive side of the ball, they faced 10 carries up the gut and allowed just 2.7 yards per carry. Both of those numbers ranked in the top 10 through Week 1 of the preseason.
Would You Believe Me If I Said… darn near everyone played?
I already stated above that Allen and Diggs were scratched from the game via a coach’s decision. We also had players on PUP (physically unable to perform) or were dinged and couldn’t dress. Even with both caveats, the Bills still managed to get 78 players into the game. Furthermore, 47 of those 78 played at least 25% of the offensive or defensive snaps.
Would You Believe Me If I Said… Poona is a problem?
Ford’s box score isn’t going to jump off the page at you. He had three tackles, two of which were solo. Ford’s analytics shine a much brighter light on the man in the middle. He missed zero percent of his tackle opportunities, per PFF (Pro Football Focus), which goes without saying is tied for first in the NFL. Sticking with PFF, Ford also had a stop percentage of 22.2%, good enough for fourth in preseason Week 1. Lastly, his 79.2 run defense grade was the best score for defensive interior players to take 20% of their team’s snaps.
POOOOOOOOOONA!!!! pic.twitter.com/NL5QiQM7r5— Greg Cover 1 🏈 (@GregTompsett) August 14, 2023
Would You Believe Me If I Said… Matt Barkley was almost perfect?
Barkley completed 14 of 15 passes which is almost perfect. He had a passer rating of 154.0 which is almost perfect. PFF gave him an offensive grade of 93.4 and a passing grade of 92.7 which are almost perfect. You get the point. The two grades from PFF were the tops in the NFL for QBs in Week 1 of the preseason. The 154.0 passer rating only trailed the Bears’ Justin Fields who completed three passes with an aDot (average depth of target) of -2.3.
Would You Believe Me If I Said… the Bills dominated toxic differential?
Without getting deep into the weeds on the toxic differential, we are going to focus on 20+ yard plays allowed vs. 20+ yard plays accounted for by Buffalo. For this, we go back to NFL game stats and information systems. The Bills’ offense generated seven plays of 20 yards or more while the defense allowed just two to the Colts. If you want to skew the stats even more in Buffalo’s favor, look at plays over 20 yards, it turns to five vs. one.