Matching Up: Bills Defense vs. Packers Offense

09/28/2018
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For the third week in a row, the Buffalo Bills’ defense will have a really tough matchup. Traveling to Green Bay to face the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers offense will not be an easy task, but Buffalo’s defensive unit has shown a lot of promise in the last six quarters of football played. Can they stop the future Hall of Famer and facilitate the offense’s job yet again? Let’s look at the matchups:

Passing game

Even with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier reassuming the play-calling duties, the Bills’ D continued to dominate the opposition in Minnesota. The pass rush looks re-energized, with the top four of Jerry Hughes, Lorenzo Alexander, Kyle Williams, and Trent Murphy consistently being able to handle their one-on-one matchups and pressure opposing QBs. In fact, Hughes and Alexander were among the top producers in this department in Week 3, with the former registering 13(!) pressures in the game, and the latter a still-impressive nine. Green Bay’s right tackle, Brian Bulaga, left the game versus the Redskins with a back injury, and his status for Sunday is still uncertain. Rodgers is also still having problems with his injured knee and is far from being 100%, but he has already thrown for 832 yards and 6 TDs this season, without any INTs. The Bills’ pass rush will need to show up big time again.

In the skill positions, the Packers have a dangerous group of targets for their elite QB. Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery offer great run after catch ability, and Jimmy Graham is the top target in the middle of the field. Outside, Geronimo Allison is the deep threat, and Davante Adams is Rodgers’s favorite target. He leads the team with 20 receptions on 29 targets for 204 yards and three scores. After drawing the Stefon Diggs matchup last week, CB Tre’Davious White should shadow Adams all over the field Sunday. I’m confident in his chances in this matchup, but I’m not so sure about the others CBs and the LBs versus all of the other weapons.

The pass rush not allowing Rodgers to sit in the pocket and scan the field will be the key. With time, he can shred any defense. His limited mobility will help Buffalo’s D, but even after an outstanding showing against the Vikings, I have a hard time giving an advantage to any defense versus the spectacular Packers QB.

Advantage: Packers

Ground game

Like against the Vikings, that’s where the Bills’ D can dominate to an extent, which can change the entire dynamic of the game. The Packers are a pass-happy team, but with Rodgers playing injured, they would like to have the running game working early to take the burden off of his shoulders. So far, it’s not happening.

Green Bay hasn’t scored any rushing TDs in 2018. Running back Jamaal Williams leads the team with 135 rushing yards in 36 attempts during the first three games. Ty Montgomery is more of a receiving threat out of the backfield. The guy who can make a difference here is Aaron Jones. Coming off of a suspension, he made his first appearance this season last week, rushing six times for 42 yards, averaging seven yards per attempt. If he can continue to build on his good start, the Packers’ offense would add another dimension and become very difficult to stop. Still, I like the Bills’ chances there. Star Lotulelei showed why he was hand-picked by HC Sean McDermott to anchor the D, being disruptive stopping the run. Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano are flying all over the field making plays, and Alexander’s also a capable run-stopper.

If the Bills’ D can dominate this area, making the Packers’ offense one dimensional, then the team’s chances in this game improve drastically. I can never be completely sure about how successful the run D will be, but I like their chances a lot.

Advantage: Bills

Overall

Aaron Rodgers is the best in the business. With today’s rules favoring the offensive side of the ball, and with the Bills still having some unproven players playing major roles on their defense, it’s difficult to not give the advantage to the Packers’ offense, especially on their home field. I just don’t think it will be a wide margin, especially after what we saw last week. The Bills’ defense has a shot in this game, but for now, the Packers are favored in this one.

Advantage: Packers

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