The Buffalo Bills enter Sunday with an even 1-1 record after opening on the road with a loss to the Jets, then bouncing back at home to dominate the Raiders. Now they get ready for the 2-0 Commanders in (the greater) Washington (area). Buffalo started the week as a 4.5-point favorite, but that number has vaulted to 6.5, according to many sports books. It’s an oversimplification, but the difference between Week 1 and Week 2 for the Bills was whether or not they turned the ball over. I won’t have that as a key to victory because I think we all understand that important face. With that, here are my five keys to a Buffalo victory over the Commanders on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Duh! The quarterback is the most important player on the field, especially for the Bills. Washington currently leads the NFL in sacks with 10. They also have four (Montez Sweat, Chase Young, Casey Toohill, James Smith-Williams) EDGE ranked in the top 35 of Pro Football Focus’ defensive grade. The Commanders also have a pair of guys (Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne) ranked inside the top 15 for interior defensemen. Allen having time is going to be of high value on Sunday.
The Bills did a fantastic job of helping right tackle Spencer Brown against the Raiders. Whether it was sliding protection, helping with a TE, or chipping, Buffalo had a great game plan to assist Brown. That will be much harder against Washington, who, unlike Las Vegas, has more than one notable defensive lineman. As you can see from the stats above, the Commanders will make it hard to pick one DL to double or help on. Brown is going to need to step up on his own on Sunday.
Howell Hard Can It Be
Commanders’ first-year starter Sam Howell has had a pretty easy go of it this season, playing against the Broncos and Cardinals defenses. The UNC product hasn’t exactly lit up the scoreboard. Washinton scored just 20 points at home against Arizona. That’s the same Cardinals team that coughed up a 28-0 lead to the Giants. In those two games, Howell is averaging 250.5 passing yards per game and 1.5 touchdowns. He’s also been sacked ten times. That is an alarming stat to me. Howell is the head of the Commanders’ so cutting him off should lead to a win for Buffalo.
I often talk about Buffalo being “all gas, no breaks” when it comes to offense. They’ve been doing that in the first half of games this season. The Bills’ 17 points per game in the first half is tied for fifth in the NFL this season. Through two games, Washington is five points per game behind Buffalo in the first 30 minutes of games. Get a lead, then play hide-and-seek.
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Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St.Juste have been decent corners this season. However, their number three corner, Emmanuel Forbes, had a very rough outing last weekend. The rookie missed 40% of his tackles while allowing a reception on 80% of his targets for 86 yards, per Pro Football Focus. Their grades for him look like this: 36.4 overall, 25.5 vs. run, 27.5 tackling, and 50.1 in coverage. If you’re not aware, those are out of 100.