While I hate the term “must-win” when a game is NOT a must-win, one can argue that the Buffalo Bills’ playoffs started with last Sunday’s three-point road win over the Kansas City Chiefs. That victory moved the Bills to 7-6 on the year and kept them in the middle of a massive cluster of teams that are either 7-6 or 8-5. Now they get arguably the league’s best team coming to Western New York in the 10-3 Dallas Cowboys. As of writing this, the Bills are a two-point favorite with the over/under set at 50.5, so buckle up, Bills Mafia. For Buffalo sports fans to feel comfortable about a postseason berth, the Bills need to finish off the final four games 3-1, so a win over the toughest team left on the schedule would go a long way in securing that trio of victories. How do they do that? I’m glad you asked. Here are my five keys to a Buffalo victory when it takes the field for another 4:25 kickoff, this time back in the friendly confines of Orchard Park.
Score Early and Often
No team scores more points per game than the Cowboys at 32.4. That number is even more impressive of late. They are averaging 39.7 points per game in their last three games. The Bills sit fifth in that category with 28.7 points per game since Joe Brady took over the offensive play calling. It sounds simplistic, but Buffalo is going to need to find the endzone several times to win this one. Now, what might benefit the Bills the most is the road woes of the Cowboys. They score just 23.7 points per game away from Texas. We will get into their deficiencies on the road more coming up, but with Buffalo scoring just shy of 30 points per game at home, I think you all would sign up for a 30-24 win on Sunday.
Micah Parsons is currently eighth in the NFL in sacks at 12.5, fifth in tackles for a loss at 14, and second in sack yards with 102. So, he doesn’t just disrupt plays; he’ll end drives. Whether it is double-teaming with a guard/tackle combo, using a tight end, chipping with a back, or Josh Allen always pointing him out, the Bills need to know where Parsons is on every play.
No, this isn’t about feeding James Cook. That comes next. The Cowboys have lost three games this season. All three have come on the road, 28-16 at Arizona, 42-10 at San Francisco, and 28-23 at Philadelphia. If there is a chink in the Cowboy armor it is playing in a hostile environment. I’m talking to you Bills Mafia!
James Cook has found another gear, or to use a pun, his chef (Joe Brady) is giving him more ingredients to work with. In the three games since Brady took over as offensive coordinator, Cook has 14 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns. His five and six-catch games are the highest of the season for the back. On the ground, Cook has another 174 yards. Keep feeding your new workhorse vs. an aggressive Dallas defense.
Sticking with the home/road splits. Dak Prescott isn’t the same QB for the Cowboys when he is on the road. Prescott has four of his six interceptions as the visitor, only eight of his 24 touchdown passes come on the road, and his passer rating dips almost 20 points. So, the Bills need to use this to their advantage and steal a possession or two from the road-weary Prescott.