Week 10 of the 2022 NFL season brings the Minnesota Vikings into Orchard Park for a melee with your Buffalo Bills. There is no sense in trying to bury the lede: Josh Allen’s elbow looms over this game, the season, and the hopeful playoff run like some sword of Damocles suspended by a sprained ligament.
***Before we go any further, it’s time for an honesty check: most of this article was written before the news that Matt Barkley was not being called up from the practice squad, which meant that Allen is likely playing against the Vikings. All of the analysis you find below was formed under that assumption, and it’s obviously been blown to hell. After walking through the props again with this new information, I’ve added what we’ll call the Active Allen Addendums, which will lay out the revised reasoning. All the stats remain just as relevant, and the Recommendations include the change in Allen’s status. Thanks for understanding. We can all agree that it’s just better if Allen never gets injured again.***
That said, your faithful bettor is neither a doctor in real life nor even on the internet, so we’ll leave the medical talk to the experts and the pretend experts alike.
OK, so, other things we’re not going to talk about: Voldemort, Bruno, those magazines in the bottom of grandma’s closet, and whatever the hell that was last week. Three Props went 0-3, and I’m not even going to link back to that article. Go find it yourself if you love misery that much.
The Bills lost without even managing to score 21 points. Greg Rousseau got hurt, missing almost the entire second half, and never really had a chance at a sack. Dawson Knox had three receptions in the first half, was open numerous times that did not get targeted, and managed to finish under 3.5 receptions. There are some days where the failures don’t even let themselves become learning opportunities, and all you can do is turn your back, walk away, and throw a fully realized temper tantrum once you get around the corner and nobody can see. Ugh.
On to Minnesota. Let’s get that analysis money.
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Nothing matters more to this game than the status of Josh Allen’s right elbow. Every prop to consider is significantly impacted: Diggs’ receptions; Singletary’s rushing attempts; even Miller’s sacks or Cousin’s interceptions change dramatically on whether the Bills get and hold a lead. It genuinely alters the entire game.
Friday injury report pic.twitter.com/PcynNNoaqU
— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) November 11, 2022
The Bills and Sean McDermott are not going to let anyone know anything about Allen’s viability until forced, which means the primary recommendation is to wait. I’ll probably wait until the inactive list comes out before touching any bets associated with this game. And the books agree. Typically, a portion of the player props come out Thursday/Friday and the full slate opens up on Saturday/Sunday. Given the uncertainty and impact of Allen’s injury, the books have not posted anything beyond TD scorers as of Saturday morning.
For our purposes, we’re going to approach the game script as if Case Keenum will be the Bills QB. If Allen is the surprise starter, you should seriously consider whether or not your analysis would change these lines enough to stay away. Moving forward in the analysis with Keenum though, the Bills should use more of the run game with increased play action and more diverse route concepts.
In related stats, the Vikings (all SIS)
- allow the third most yard/att on play action passes, and the Bills’ 8.6 yds/att on 85 passes make them 11th best on that same play type
- give up the most yds/pass att to 11 personnel (8.3) and the second most to 11 personnel using play action (10.9) (BUF has used 11 at a 73% clip in 2022)
If the Bills can overcome the Vikings without Allen and a number of key defenders, they need to exploit every advantage.
For a thorough breakdown, find UberHansen’s Game Matchups Preview here.
***Last updated: 11/13 12:00pm***
Tyler Bass Field Goals
The Bills’ offense has struggled in the red zone so far in 2022. The Bills are 31st in YAC/att in RZ rushes (1.1) and 28th in EPA/att in RZ rushes (-0.15). Even Allen has struggled – he is 52nd in RZ EPA (SIS). Double-check that. Yeah, only Kenny Pickett (an overmatched rookie), Aaron Rodgers (who has given up), and Russell Wilson (Hi Nate!) are behind him. I’d tell Ant Prohaska I appreciate him sharing that nugget, but I’d really rather not have known. But the Vikings’ RZ D is not good.
From Football Outsiders
This should have been a get-right game for the Bills’ red zone struggles if Allen were able to play. The Vikings’ RZ pass D allows a DVOA of 73.1%. It’s not just the pass where they struggle though, as Minnesota’s RZ D is last in every DVOA category. It’s atrocious. Their 32nd-ranked overall RZ DVOA is further from the Dolphins at 31st than the Dolphins are from 9th place Dallas. With a healthy Allen, the Bills would be close to double-digit favorites.
<Pause for internal screaming>
MIN has faced some good offenses. The Eagles, Dolphins, and – at one point in the season – the Lions are all really solid attacks. But remember, DVOA accounts for opponent, and the Norsemen’s other foes (GB, NO, CHI, ARI, WAS) are not fearful invaders.
With Case Keenum as a likely QB option, the Bills will be missing their best and primary red zone weapon. Allen’s effectiveness as a runner creates hesitation and space in the red zone that Keenum simply can’t replicate. When the Bills reach the red zone, it will be a reasonably stoppable force meeting a highly movable object. It’s anybody’s guess, but watch for Buffalo to have to search for effective plays in this critical area, and that means more stalled drives, leading to increased chances for Bass.
***Active Allen Addendum: The recommendation below is unchanged because we still need to see how the Bills operate in the red zone with Allen. Will he run as much? Will he be limited in his throwing ability at all? And those RZ DVOA stats were accumulated with Allen at the helm, so there are enough question marks to make Bass a solid option, especially if McDermott is more risk-averse with the franchise QB.
Recommendation: o1.5 FGs at DK, 0.5u
Devin Singletary Rushing Yards
MIN uses light boxes the most in the league (73%). It’s possible they’ll change their approach because of Allen’s injury, but the flip side is that with Allen’s injury, they keep a “do what we do” mindset against a lesser QB. That would work in the Bills’ favor. The Bills have 77 rushes against light boxes and are 7th in the NFL in yds/att versus 6 or fewer in the box (5.9 yds/att) and 7th in EPA/att.
***Active Allen Addendum: This prop was originally Singletary’s attempts, but is switched to rushing yards. DK and CSR have the line at 49.5. The analysis above should have included potentially wet conditions during the game. Combined with the fact that Allen should have fewer designed rushes, Motor should see increased attempts. A lot of the Bills’ success against light boxes comes from Allen’s rushes, but the increased workload for Singletary and the Vikings missing DT Dalvin Tomlinson should get him to the over. While typing this up, DK pulled the line and replaced it with Alternate Rushing Yards for Singletary, starting at 50+ for -425. That’s a good sign we’re in the right territory.
Recommendation: o50.5 ru yds at FD, 0.5u
Za’Darius Smith Sacks
From players with more than 90 pass rush snaps, Za’Darius Smith leads the league in pressures with 46 and is tied for first in Pressure Rate at (PFF). Smith is generating pressure on 15.6% of his pass rush snaps and is fifth in sack percentage (4.1%, SIS). On pass rushes over his last four games, he has been around a full yard closer to the QB than the NFL average (3.65 yds from the QB compared to 4.53, NextGen). In other words, he has terrorized offensive linemen.
Spencer Brown was a full participant in practice on Thursday and Friday and should be the starter at RT. His athleticism makes him a better matchup against Smith, but his inconsistency in technique will probably give a rusher like Smith too many chances to not get to Keenum at least once.
Vikings mug the A gaps & have a wide alignment on the DL. On the snap, the LBs drop out. The wide alignment creates 1-on-1’s. Za’Darius Smith gets matched up on a guard, hops inside, then spins back out. Compromises the pocket depth as the edges compresspic.twitter.com/BbmIpbDwDY
— Anthony Cover 1 (@Pro__Ant) November 10, 2022
If you are concerned the Bills will commit TEs and RBs consistently through the game to help on Smith, consider the over on Danielle Hunter’s sacks.
***Active Allen Addendum: This remains unchanged.
Recommendation: o0.75 sacks, 0.5u
Update: Evidently Smith’s sacks are not getting posted, or it will be late for the purposes of this article. I’d consider Taron Johnson’s tackles over at 5.5 +115 at DK as a replacement.
No one would blame you if you took this week off from betting on Bills’ props. Another honesty check is that I’m hesitant to bet anything this week. It is doubtful the BIlls would let him play if he were significantly limited, but the uncertainty as to what degree he’s limited – if he is at all – introduces a volatile variable that you might not want to drop your money into.
Whatever you decide, let’s be grateful Josh Allen is ok enough to play. If you do let it ride, let me see those winnings on Twitter @LowBuffa!
Record: 16-8, +3.5u