After looking at the three top matchups to watch on the offensive side of the ball, it’s time to consider the challenges the Bills will face on defense. The Chargers are coming into town with a potent offense featuring a handful of really talented players. Here are my choices for the three most important matchups to keep an eye on:
CB Tre’Davious White vs. WR Keenan Allen
Keenan Allen was the third most productive receiver in the NFL on a per snap basis in 2017. pic.twitter.com/qPV2brZf3f
— PFF LA Chargers (@PFF_Chargers) July 31, 2018
Allen is one of the top wide receivers in the NFL and maybe the best route runner in the league. He had eight receptions for 108 yards and one score versus the Chiefs last week and was the focal point of LA’s passing game. His chemistry with QB Philip Rivers is top-notch, and the Bills’ coaching staff may end up sending White to follow him all over the field. It’ll be a big challenge to the second-year cornerback, but if he can at least slow down the Chargers’ top target, it’s going to improve the Bills’ chances in this Sunday’s game.
Bills LBs vs. Chargers RBs
Buffalo’s linebackers’ performance was one of the few positives from the loss against the Ravens in week one. Lorenzo Alexander earned a team-best 86.5 Pro Football Focus overall grade. Rookie Tremaine Edmunds flashed his athletic ability recording seven tackles and one sack, also forcing one fumble. Second-year LB Matt Milano led the team with eight tackles. They’ll face a dangerous running back tandem in Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler this week, who combined for 103 yards on 20 carries against the Chiefs, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The pair was a major part of Los Angeles’s aerial attack, combining for 189 yards and one score on 14 receptions. They were targeted on 17 of the 51 passes attempted by Rivers in this game. Edmunds and Milano will need to show all of their athleticism to be able to keep up with the dangerous duo.
Bills DL vs Chargers OL
There’s no way the Bills will be able to be competitive in this game if the defensive line can’t win the battle in the trenches and pressure Rivers on a consistent basis. Shaq Lawson is out of the game with a hamstring injury, and he will be missed. Trent Murphy will need to show improvement in his second game back from a groin injury. If recently signed defensive end Nate Orchard can help the rotation with quality snaps, it’ll be great news.
Another piece of good news for Buffalo is the struggles of the Chargers’ offensive line. They received the fourth-worst PFF pass blocking grade in the NFL last season and lost their right tackle Jon Barksdale to injury. Second-year guard Dan Feeney was a liability last week, allowing six pressures and a sack. That’s a group that can be exploited, and the Bills need to take advantage of this opportunity to have a shot on Sunday.