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The Way I See It... From the Desk of Ed Kilgore Archives for 2022-10

Bills Hold Off Packers 27-17

Who else thinks it’s kinda scary the Vegas oddsmakers made the Bills 10 ½ point favorites over the slumping Green Bay Packers, who’ve never been that big an underdog with Aaron Rodgers at QB, and the Bills win 27-17?  So good for you Packers, you can fly back to Green Bay knowing you covered.


The way the Packers stuck with their running game almost made it seem like they were trying to avoid a blowout, knowing all too well what happened in Orchard Park earlier this season to Tennessee and Pittsburgh.  Even when the Bills took a commanding 24-7 halftime lead, the Packers kept pounding.  Then again, Aaron Jones was the hardest runner the Bills have faced all season, as he went through plenty of arm tackles on his way to 143 yards on 20 carries, which is 7.2 yards per carry.  The ball possession did keep it away from Josh Allen and the Bills to some degree, but they were simply facing reality that with receiver injuries and other issues Rodgers was not going to compile some big passing numbers against the Bills top rated defense. This did keep the score respectable and the Packers actually outgained the Bills 398-369 in total yards, but the Bills were never really threatened after taking a 14-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter.


Although it could be the Bills were a bit rusty after their bye week, or they just got too comfortable with a 17 point halftime lead, their focus was simply off in the second half, and that’s especially true of Allen.  We’ve become so used to watching him make big plays with his arm and legs, that an average game from him looks like a catastrophe.  Despite a perfect weather night, Allen and Rodgers both barely went over 200 yards passing, and both threw for two touchdowns. While Rodgers had one interception, Allen had two in the 4th quarter  along with a few surprisingly off target tosses both in the pocket or moving. Allen has gotten away with throwing late over the middle in the past, but not this time.  Worse yet, Allen almost never gets picked in the red zone, but a poor throw inside the Packers 5  cost certain points when the Packers were still hanging around. Typical Allen though.  He still made several key plays, including a 20 yard run on third and long to set up the game’s first touchdown in the first quarter.  Allen couldn’t hide his displeasure despite the win, saying in a post game interview on the field he just had to be better, and he specifically mentioned next week’s game at the Jets.


This is a huge game for the Jets, who fell to 5-3 after a 22-17 home loss to the Patriots, while the Dolphins improved to 5-3 with a win at Detroit.  Now 6-1, the Bills remain atop the AFC East and AFC overall, and they came out of the Packers game with one injury of concern.  Safety Jordan Poyer suffered an elbow injury and will be x-rayed to see if anything is broken. Poyer did admit he heard a popping noise but said he’s trying to stay positive.


There were several positives to take from the Bills win.  Defensively Greg Rousseau picked up his 5th sack and had another wiped out by a penalty.  Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds had 16 tackles, and second year safety Damar Hamlin had 10. Devin Singletary had 14 carries for 67 yards, a 4.8 yard average, and a catch for 16. Rookie James Cook was impressive, with 35 yards on 5 carries for 7 yards a carry, and he also turned a short pass into a 41 yard gain.  Matt Milano had another interception and nearly had two.


This was a chippy game, and Bills coach Sean McDermott can’t be happy that wide receiver Gabe Davis was flagged for a late shove on a Packers defensive back, and the pf for 15 yards cost the Bills a scoring drive. Stefon Diggs jawed with some Packers players coming down the tunnel before the game, but Diggs backed it up with 6 catches for 108 yards and a TD on the field.  Davis had 2 catches for 35 yards and tight end Dawson Knox 2 for 10 yards.  Both should be busier next week.


In fact, I think it’s safe to predict you’ll see a much more focused Bills team next Sunday at MetLife Stadium.




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Bills Host Packers Sunday Night

It’s great to be a Bills fan these days, and the number seems to be growing not only in America but abroad as well.  With the NFL pushing for expansion to Europe, the exposure of the Bills even on TV is creating new fans who’ve never even been to Buffalo.  My son-in-law and daughter (and granddaughter!) live in Scotland, and they and many of their friends in North Berwick stay up ungodly hours to watch the Bills streaming video.


Before we get to Sunday Night’s NBC game against the Green Bay Packers at Highmark Stadium, it’s worth mentioning the Bills have finally released some specific renderings of the new stadium, scheduled to be ready for the 2026 season.  The reaction has been mostly favorable, and to me it looks fabulous.  It’ll be open air, not a dome as some hoped, and it will have a natural grass field.  Awesome.  With current underground heating systems the field should stay in good shape, and about 65% of fans will be under a covering.  For those of you wondering how Nashville can afford a domed downtown stadium for the Titans, it’s really not a comparable situation. For the Bills it was never realistic to think dome or downtown, and the Titans proposed new dome will be nearly double the Bills expected $1.4 B tab.


The renderings hopefully end some recent speculation about the deadline delays on financing for the new Orchard Park playpen. Some of that could be due to the continued silence on the health of Terry Pegula’s wife and business partner Kim, and the longer we don’t hear anything the more concerning it is.  The Pegulas are  the sole reason the Bills are still in WNY and will be for generations to come.  Keep the prayers going for Kim, and if that’s not your thing some positive thoughts can’t hurt.


What can we expect Sunday night?  On paper, the Bills should win easily, but we all know how close teams in the NFL actually are depending on circumstances.  The Bills are 11 point favorites over the reeling Packers, which is the highest spread against the Packers in Aaron Rodgers NFL career.  Rodgers, throwing 11 TD’s with only 3 interceptions, is in a funk as young receivers continue underperforming, a big reason the Packers are 3-4.  Worse yet, Rodgers has now publicly called out players, coaches and even management, which means this could go one of a couple ways.  Angry teams can be dangerous, and the Packers are still very much in playoff contention despite being a couple games behind the Vikings.  Or, they could fall behind early and quit.  Don’t expect that.


While the Packers are struggling offensively, their defense has been solid, especially against the pass.  Granted, none of the 5 qb’s they’ve faced are in Josh Allen’s stratosphere, but the Packers are allowing under 170 yards passing per game.  Allen and OC Ken Dorsey will still throw the ball a lot, and the weather should be decent to do it, but the running game will get opportunities as well.


The Bills are almost fully healthy now, and cornerback Tre White is practicing fully.  He’s not playing Sunday, but could be back in the next couple weeks.


No personnel moves for GM Brandon Beane, despite Von Miller’s consistent social media  claims the Bills are going after Odell Beckham Jr.  Beane and Sean McDermott don’t dismiss it out of hand, but I just don’t see it.  The Chiefs surprised a few people by giving up a 3 and a 6 to the Giants for former 1st round pick Kadarius Toney, a speedy wide receiver from Florida who’s a threat when healthy, but he’s been injury prone.  Injuries could also play in this, as Bengals top receiver Ja’Marr Chase is now out 4-6 weeks with a hip injury, which is certainly a blow to qb Joe Burrow’s recent hot streak.


Elsewhere in the AFC East, the 4-3 Dolphins are 4 point favorites at Detroit, where they should cover against the Lions’ NFL worst defense.  Upset special.  The Patriots are 2 ½ point favorites at the Jets, and Mac Jones is getting the start for the Pats.  The Jets will force some turnovers and win this one outright.


As for the Bills,  they beat the Packers 33-17.




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Not having the Bills to watch this weekend was a mixed blessing if you live in WNY.  It was a glorious autumn weekend to watch the leaves, or Heaven help us, rake them. Who knows what it’ll be like next Sunday night when the Bills host the Green Bay Packers. The long range forecast is low 60’s, but we know how predicting tomorrow is tough enough.


With the Bills off, it was a chance to watch some other NFL action, and this weekend provided some surprises and a couple shockers.


So the Bills hit the bye week at 5-1, with four of the six on the road.  Gotta feel good about that, right?  But.  The Bills have only a half game lead in the AFC East over A) Dolphins  B) Patriots or C) Jets.  It’s C.  The Jets are 5-2 after a 16-9 win at Russell Wilsonless Denver.  Are they for REAL?  Are the NY Giants for real at 6-1?  Are the Tampa Bay Bucs for real?


The win for the Jets was costly.  With qb Zach Wilson a game manager at best, they rely on a strong running game to compliment a talented and aggressive young defense. One of their early surprises was 2nd round pick Breece Hall, a bruiser from Iowa St. who was off to a scintillating start both as a runner and pass receiver.  But Hall suffered a torn ACL at Denver and is out for the season.


This was also an interesting week for media and Twitter fans, with rampant speculation quoting “sources” that know the Bills are among teams interested in Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey, or perhaps wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr?  OBJ a “sure thing” according to his former Rams teammate Von Miller, but my take is the Bills have zero interest in OBJ, who recently claimed he was insulted by a low ball offer to stay with the Rams. The Bills are playing along only to let Miller have his Twitter, and now Podcast, fun.


So the big story finally breaks that the San Francisco 49ers have given up a slew of draft picks for McCaffrey, who still has talent despite some wear and tear and history of injuries.  But with the 49ers getting healthy again, maybe this would put the Niners into the Super Bowl conversation?  San Fran, statistically, went into Sunday’s game against the KC Chiefs in Santa Clara as the NFL’s number 1 defense allowing just over 280 yards per game.  The Bills are #2 at just over 300 allowed per game.  McCaffrey could be a huge help for the Jimmy Garoppolo offense.  Theoretically.


Didn’t quite pan out. McCaffrey saw limited action, but made no difference because he doesn’t play defense.  The Chiefs, after a slow start, ran the Niners out of Levi’s Stadium 44-23. The Chiefs racked up over 500 yards of offense, with Patrick Mahomes throwing for 443 yards and 3 TD’s. If you want to talk about defenses, you might look back a week at the Bills 24-20 win at KC.  That win, especially with the come from behind element from Josh Allen, becomes even bigger now after the Chief’s impressive performance. KC, now 5-2, is in the driver’s seat in the AFC West, which has sprung a few leaks.  The Chargers, Raiders and Broncos are all struggling.  The Chargers surprising 37-23 home loss to Seattle was made even worse as star cornerback JC Jackson suffered a broken knee cap and will be out indefinitely.  Jackson signed a 5-year $82.5 M contract in the offseason.


Two games were stunners, with both involving future Hall of Fame qb’s.  The most shocking of all, was Tampa Bay’s 21-3 loss at “tanking” Carolina.  Tom Brady with 290 yards and no TD’s as the discombobulated Bucs fall to 3-4. I’ve said it before, but I’ll be surprised if Brady finishes the season.  He’s the GOAT.  I’ll argue that all day, but that doesn’t give him the green light to put his personal problems in direct conflict with the goals of an NFL franchise and its fans. If the players took a vote, my bet is it would be unanimous to let Brady hit the road.


The other surprise happened to the team the Bills will be back in action against next Sunday night in Orchard Park, the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers was held to under 200 yards passing and a couple TD’s in a 23-21 loss at Washington. The Packers offense is a wreck, and the Bills are already 10  ½ point favorites, a first in Rodgers career.  This is scary territory, and I’ve already seen one prominent Vegas insider recommend taking the points. After the loss at Washington, Rodgers told the media “I’m not worried about this squad. This week, nobody’s going to give us a chance, going to Buffalo on Sunday Night Football.  Shoot, this might be the best thing for us.”


The Bills should be ok though. 


Sean McDermott is 5-0 coming off bye weeks as Head Coach of the Bills. Why?  His players say he learned a long time ago from KC coach Andy Reid to give his players time off to regroup, and he trusts his veterans to make sure everybody stays focused. I’d expect nothing less this week.




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Bills Hit Bye 5-1

The Bills now have the 8th easiest schedule in the NFL as they hit the Bye Week at 5-1, so if they can remain reasonably healthy they’ll be in great position to play one or two games in Orchard Park this January. 


The first 6 games were a gauntlet.  Opening against the defending Super Bowl Champion Rams in LA, blistering the AFC’s top seed of last year and winning at Arrowhead in Kansas City with four of the six games on the road.  Only the sweat box loss at Miami stopped the Bills from a 6-0 start to match the Philadelphia Eagles, and even with that loss most folks still consider the Bills the Super Bowl LVII favorite at State Farm Stadium in Glendale Arizona February 12th.


How much are those tickets?  Don’t ask.


We’ve learned a lot about the 2022 Bills as we hit the bye.  Josh Allen is actually getting better, and he’s now the clear front runner in the NFL’s MVP race, which was enhanced when the Bills held off the Patrick Mahomes Chiefs 24-20 at Arrowhead. Allen outplayed Mahomes and willed the Bills to that win.  Still, Allen doesn’t have the ring or the MVP belonging to Mahomes, and the respect he’s due now won’t come until that happens, and there’s an excellent chance the two will meet again this January in Orchard Park.


We’ve also learned Von Miller is worth every penny of his 6-year, $120 million contract with the Bills, who to their credit enticed him to leave glitzy LA after he won his 2nd Super Bowl. Miller is a difference maker, and along with Allen made the decisive plays in the win over the Chiefs with 3 huge plays only somebody like Miller can make.  The Bills are being smart allowing the 33-year old Miller extra rest during the week, and the KC game was the first time this season he played more than half the defensive snaps. The explosiveness and extra gear are still there, and his off field help with protégé Greg Rousseau and others has been noticeable.


It’s also noteworthy that the Bills 5-1 start came despite an unusual rash of injuries, especially on the defensive side.  This is where the Bills depth on the team built by gm Brandon Beane became noticeable.  Some rookies, like first round pick, CB Kaiir Elam and 6th round pick, CB Christian Benford along with 3rd round selection LB Terrel Bernard stepped right in and produced.  Elam especially is interesting because he’s so demanding of himself. He’s come up with interceptions in each of the last two games, and his end zone pick of Mahomes early in the KC game was really big.  Elam said he gave himself an F- after the Steelers game.  A bit harsh?


Offensive injuries have also revealed some rookie talent.  WR Khalil Shakir, a 5th round pick but considered a steal at that spot, is proving the hype is real after he didn’t even dress for the season opener.  He’s clearly gaining Allen’s trust with his route running and ability to make disputed catches as well as RAC (run after catch) yards. Slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie had a tough outing against the Chiefs, and while it could be the lingering effects of a concussion, Shakir might be making a bid for more snaps and targets at McKenzie’s expense. Hey.  A little competition doesn’t hurt anyway.


Having said that, I pay ZERO attention to the plethora of rumors and “sources” saying the Bills are actively pursuing OBJ or Christian McCaffrey.  It’s not happening, and doesn’t need to happen.


With the Bills off this weekend, we still have some interesting games to keep tabs on, especially in the suddenly competitive AFC East.


The surprising Jets are no longer a patsy.  They’re 4-2 after a solid win at Green Bay, yet they’re 1 ½ point underdogs at Denver.  Sorry Broncos, but I think the Jets win this one outright because their D will not help struggling Russell Wilson get suddenly better. The Dolphins are home against the Steelers on Sunday night as 7 point favorites, which they’ll cover as QB Tua Tagovailoa returns from Concussion Protocol.  Honestly this makes me nervous, as I can’t shake that shot of Tagovailoa’s protruding fingers right after the sack against the Bengals.  He’s a wonderful guy according to everybody around him but his lack of size and proclivity for injuries give me serious doubts about whether or not he should just walk away.  But, it’s obviously his decision.


Then we have the Patriots.  With QB Mac Jones out, rookie Bailey Zappe threw for 309 yards and 2 TD’s in a 38-15 blowout win at Cleveland to even the Pats record at 3-3. Zappe looks pretty darn good and dare I say better than Jones. The Pats are 8 point favorites against the Bears at Foxboro, and the Pats will cover easily.  Da Bears aren’t dat good.


The Bills next game is intriguing, with the Packers at Highmark Stadium October 30th in a Sunday Night Football game. Aaron Rogers has been struggling but it’s way too early to dismiss them as an easy W.


The Bills will be the healthiest they’ve been since the season opener now, and cornerback Tre White is almost back.  The depth is there, except at quarterback.


Number 17 has to stay healthy, and he’s not gonna change his style now.


What an amazing time to be a Bills fan.




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Allen Drives Bills to 24-20 Comeback Win over Chiefs

Coming into this season, most reasonable Bills fans would have happily accepted a 5-1 start, knowing the defending Super Bowl Champs and AFC top seeds were on a schedule that included four road games and just two at home. 


Another showdown between Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City didn’t disappoint, unless you’re a Chiefs fan of course.  This time it was Allen leading the fourth quarter comeback in a 24-20 victory that wasn’t always perfect with both teams missing opportunities.  The Bills have a little thing they say on the sidelines that really hit home in this game.  Don’t blink.  That’s it.  Don’t blink.  And they didn’t.


Watching other qb’s playing on Sunday made us appreciate just how good both Allen and Mahomes are.  Mahomes has the ring and the MVP, and Allen will never be considered better until he does that too.  But in this game, Allen was better.  He threw for 329 yards and 3 td’s with no interceptions, and made a couple gutsy plays with his legs on the final drive where he hit tight end Dawson Knox from 14 yards out giving the Bills a  24-20 lead with 1:04 left.  Mahomes usually does this blind folded, but not this time as  Taron Johnson picked him and it was over and  Mahomes 338 yards passing and 2 td’s were overshadowed by the two int’s.


The Bills have been saying all week this is just another game.  Don’t fall for that one.  The 18 point regular season win at Arrowhead last year didn’t mean much eventually after the 13 second debacle in the playoffs.  Bills gm Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott immediately identified what had to happen moving forward, and landing Von Miller can’t be overstated for both on the field and off the field leadership reasons.

The two time Super Bowl winner barely practiced all week to save his energy, and he was a difference maker the Bills missed a year ago.


His two sacks, giving him 6 for the season, stopped Chiefs drives in crunch time.  He also hustled to grab a scrambling Mahomes for a short gain another time, and it was his pressure on Mahomes on KC’s final drive that led directly to cornerback Taron Johnson’s int to end the game effectively.   Johnson is a gem, which is why the Bills signed the former 4th round pick to a 3 year, $24 million contract extension a year ago.  His 101 yard pick six was THE play of the game in a playoff win over the Ravens a couple years ago, and he’s another example of the Bills ability to judge talent.  Along that line, rookie 1st round pick cornerback Kaiir Elam ended the Chiefs opening drive with an interception off Mahomes in the end zone.


To be fair, Allen and his super targets Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis took advantage of the fact the Chiefs had to play two rookies at cornerback due to injuries, and twice Allen saw them in single coverage.  His 34 yard strike to Davis came late in the first half and gave the Bills a short-lived 10-7 lead, and later in the 3rd quarter  Allen threw a similar floater timed perfectly for Diggs from 17 yards out to give the Bills a 17-10 lead they couldn’t hold. Diggs had 10 catches for 148 yards and Davis 3 for 74.  Credit also goes to the Bills O-Line for not only giving Allen enough time the majority of the time, but also for opening some creases for Devin Singletary.  Singletary actually had 17 carries for 85 yards with most coming in the first half as OC Ken Dorsey made the Chiefs play the Bills passing game honestly.  The Chiefs blitzed Allen more than most teams do, but it hurt them more than it helped as Allen hit hot reads several times.


So, 5-1 at the Bye Week and almost fully healthy again.  Not only that, cornerback Trey White has been practicing and might even be ready for the Bills next game, a Sunday night meeting with the Packers in Orchard Park October 30th.


Still plenty of bumps on the road ahead with the surprising Jets 4-2 among them, but winning at Kansas City might have been the biggest bump of all, and the Bills now get to enjoy it for a couple weeks.  Good time to be a Bills fan.




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Bills Healthy for Chiefs Showdown

This old guy has seen a lot of Bills-Chiefs games over the years, and full disclosure, I was a huge Chiefs fan growing up in Missouri. My sister and brother-in-law are Chiefs season ticket holders. But I think the Bills are gonna win this game and it’s my fervent hope they do.  I’m a Buffalo guy all the way now.


As a reformed Chiefs fan, sitting in Arrowhead listening to that song they do along with the tomahawk chops is no fun if the Bills are losing, which usually happens there.  In the 90’s, the Chiefs clobbered the Bills in Arrowhead during the regular season a couple times, but in Orchard Park it was an entirely different story in the playoffs.  The Bills ended the Chiefs season twice during their four year Super Bowl run, and ended Joe Montana’s career by knocking him out cold at the Ralph.  The Arrowhead and now Highmark Stadium crowds greatly help the defense, and the Bills are ready for that this time.  Josh Allen loves the big stage, and this is a big one with potentially home field advantage in the playoffs down the road. Allen has almost his full arsenal back. Tight end Dawson Knox, slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie and center Mitch Morse, a former Chief, should play. Gabe Davis, obviously, is full speed again and he loves Arrowhead.  And now a surprising addition to Stefon Diggs and the receiving corps is rookie Khalil Shakir, who is more than living up to high expectations despite him being a 5th round draft pick.  He’s a playmaker.  So, the Bills still don’t have a top shelf running game.  Well, it’s just not who they are.  Allen remains the team’s leading rusher, but Devin Singletary is getting better all the time, including as a receiver and blocker.


As long as they have Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs are good.  Very good. In their 4-1 start they’re averaging 32 points a game despite the departure of Tyreek Hill.  So they don’t miss him, right? Wrong.  The Bills have added Von Miller, the Super Bowl whisperer to what was already a strong defense for this very game and then down the road.  The Bills hope he and Greg Rousseau, and the returning Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips can generate pressure enough on Mahomes without having to blitz.  The Chiefs oline has been inconsistent. Tight end Travis Kelce is still the man, but no matter how much they say they don’t miss Hill, it’s a different game plan for the Bills without his top end speed to worry about.  Luckily Jordan Poyer is back, and Matt Milano will get help covering Kelce.


Both these teams will make big plays offensively, and that’s  a given.  This will look nothing like the recent Seattle-Denver game the other day. The Allen-Mahomes rivalry is real.  It’s a thing. Mahomes is the king because he has the ring, and that’s fair.  However if you ask me who’s tougher to defend, it’s Allen because of his size and running ability.  This pair is going to put on another show.


But the difference is the D.  The Bills have one of, if not the, NFL’s best and they’re getting healthy.  Even cornerback Trey White is back practicing, although he won’t be quite ready for Sunday. The Chiefs defense gives up nearly 400 yards a game and their secondary has been prone to giving up big plays.

Not a comforting thought the way Allen and the Bills offense is cooking right now.


The Chiefs are more than capable of winning this one, but not if the Bills don’t turn it over or take too many foolish penalties.  The Bills have been pointing for this.  They’re confident, but with the leadership of Allen, Miller, Diggs and others, they won’t be overly confident.  This may be just another game, but they don’t believe that for a second.


This time, the Bills will be kneeling with :13 left.


Bills win it 33-17.




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Bills Blast Steelers 38-3

It’s understandable some fans and media folks have been questioning certain aspects of the Bills offense under new Offensive Coordinator Ken Dorsey, and the questions are twofold: how can the Bills improve their running game to take some of the pressure off Josh Allen, and why is the yardage per play down a bit this season opposed to a year ago?


In blasting the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-3 at Highmark Stadium the Bills provided some answers but not all.  The Bills running game was deceiving, as the Bills finished with 120 yards on the ground.  Allen’s 42 matched Devin Singletary’s 42 and rookie James Cook added 31 including a 24 yard TD. Not many yards, but that came on a combined 15 attempts for a 7.7 average.  The rest came from Allen’s big arm.  This is where the answer to the question about yards per play was just answered perhaps.


Gabe Davis is healthy again, and his explosive talent is one thing the Bills quality depth can’t replace. With Davis healthy, the Bills can strike from anywhere.  ANYWHERE.


On the game’s first series, the Bills received on a blustery day in Orchard Park and immediately found themselves inside their own two yard line when Taquan Jones, subbing for Isiah McKenzie, botched the catch but did recover at least.  It quickly became 3rd and 10 and the Bills were going into a 20 mph breeze.  You’ve got Josh Allen, right? You gotta love this boldness.  Dorsey goes big, the oline holds, and Davis makes a cut and goes deep.  Allen lofts a perfect strike that Davis takes in stride as the play covers 98 yards for a 7-0 lead.  Davis would later make an amazing catch for a 62 yard touchdown.


For the game, which Allen was able to enjoy from the sidelines much of the 4th quarter, Allen had 424 passing and four TD’s with one pick, with the bulk of this coming in the first half as the Bills built an insurmountable 31-3 lead. The Bills racked up a mind boggling 552 yards of offense, averaging over 10 yards per play. To be fair, the Steelers certainly miss TJ Watt and safety Terrell Edmunds, but the Bills have been dealing with key injuries as well.


Depth.  That’s what Bills GM Brandon Beane continues to stress, and the Bills depth is impressive.  5th round pick Khalil Shakir, who wasn’t even dressing for earlier games, had 3 catches for 75 yards, including a 24 yard TD from Allen.  He also returned a kickoff 33 yards. Rookie RB James Cook had four carries for 31 yards including an impressive 24 yard TD run. With Tremain Edmunds out, Tyrel Dodson was all over the field with 11 tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss. Rookie CB Kair Elam had his first NFL interception, and safety Damar Hamlin, who played college ball at Pitt, was a 6th round pick a year ago and he filled in quite well for Jordan Poyer with 6 tackles and some strong coverage.


Hard to forget to mention Stefon Diggs, because his 8 grabs for 102 yards and a TD were a key component as always.


It’s worth mentioning that rookie qb Kenny Picket, despite not having any TD passes and one interception, showed me and others he’s got the right stuff to be a darn good NFL quarterback. He stared down the Bills pass rush and finished with 34/54 for 327 yards, although much of that came when the Bills were sitting on a big lead.  He’s a feisty competitor  too, getting into it with Bills D lineman Shaq Lawson late in the game.


Cudos to coach Sean McDermott for having his team focused on the Steelers, who were 14 ½ point underdogs.  The Bills are no doubt well aware their next game is at Kansas City in a week. The Chiefs lose a day because they host the Vegas Raiders Monday night, and they know they can’t afford to look ahead either.


The Bills, at 4-1, are atop the AFC East again with the Dolphins and Jets now 3-2 and the Patriots 2-3.  The Chiefs game next week is only week six, but somehow it seems MUCH bigger than that.  Can’t wait!




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Bills May Be Boring vs Steelers

While Bills fans have become accustomed to watching Josh Allen make big plays with his arm and his feet, I’m thinking Sunday’s meeting with the Steelers may have a different feel if things go the way the Bills hope they do in front of another roaring sellout crowd at New Era Field.


The Bills a whopping 14 point favorite over the Steelers, who sorely miss Big Ben on offense and TJ Watt on defense. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has seen enough of Mitch Trubisky, pulling him in the second half against the Jets in favor of Pitt rookie and first round pick Kenny Picket. Picket did give the Steelers a spark in a 24-20 loss, but he also threw 3 int’s.  The Bills D line, finally getting healthy again, should feast on the Steelers O-line to make it a rough NFL starting debut for Picket.


Let’s address the elephant in the Bills locker room.  Josh Allen, despite his size and toughness, can’t be expected to pass for over 300 yards a game and be the Bills leading rusher too. He’s averaging over 6 yards per carry and just under 50 yards a game rushing. Devin Singletary is under 4 yards per carry as the Bills feature back, and Zack Moss had 6 yards on 3 carries in the win at Baltimore.


Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey isn’t calling as many designated run plays for Allen as Brian Daboll did, but Allen is just too competitive at turning broken plays into big runs or passes, and Dorsey certainly doesn’t want to restrict Allen’s aggressiveness. But he does need somebody else to pick up the slack.  The O-line loves to run block because they initiate the contact instead of retreating in pass protection.  Maybe they’ll get more repetitions in this game.


Here’s another question I have.  Is rookie and 2nd round pick James Cook gonna escape coach Sean McDermott’s doghouse anytime soon?


Cook fumbled his first carry against the Rams and after dropping a couple passes he’s in witness protection.  He’s bigger and faster than either Singletary or Moss.

Back in 2017 Chiefs coach Andy Reed started rookie Kareem Hunt due to an injury, and Hunt fumbled on his first NFL carry at New England.  But Reed stuck with him, and Hunt went on to score 3 touchdowns with 148 yards rushing and another 98 receiving.  Hunt was a 4th round pick.


Obviously the flow of the game will determine a lot of this, but I’m thinking Cook is going to be busy as the Bills rely on defense to pressure the rookie and a pounding run game to help ease the burden on Allen.  Gabe Davis is now the closest to 100 percent he’s been, which should also take some of the reliance on Stefan Diggs, who’s averaging just over 100 yards per game.


This game may be boring, and the Bills coaching staff is counting on it.  Next after Pittsburgh is another trip to Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, and that game will look nothing like this one.


The weather, finally, should be near perfect Sunday, and unless the Bills are peeking ahead to next week, they win this one 31-13.




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Bills Bounce Back 23-20 at Baltimore

It wasn’t 100 degrees, but it was once again terrible weather greeting the Bills in Baltimore. Steady rain and some gusting winds hampered the much anticipated duel between Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson at least in the passing game, but both were effective extending plays with their legs.


The Bills overcame a horrible start, falling behind at one point 20-3 late in the first half, as the Ravens took advantage of an Allen interception and Devin Singletary fumble.


But this time, the Bills didn’t blink. Allen led a lengthy drive to cut the deficit in half with a short TD pass to Isaiah McKenzie in the final seconds of the first half and it was 20-10 going into the locker room to regroup. McKenzie would later leave the game with a possible concussion, a touchy subject around the NFL these days.  Suffice to say the Bills will be extremely cautious before bringing McKenzie back.


They did regroup indeed by eventually kicking a walk off field goal to win it 23-20, improving their record to 3-1 to stay even with the Dolphins in the AFC East. The win also snapped a string of seven straight close game losses, which was a record starting to annoy Bills players who were constantly being asked about it.


Allen did win the statistical battle against Jackson, but Jackson was a handful.  Maybe that inspired Allen to shake off the rusty start with his remarkable second half comeback effort.  Allen had 283 total yards with two TD’s and the int, while Jackson totaled 217 yards with a touchdown but two costly interceptions, including the 4th quarter pick that totally changed the game when Ravens coach John Harbaugh surprisingly made a decision that backfired.


After controlling much of the game, the Ravens and Bills were tied as the Ravens put together a long drive to go for the lead. The Ravens looked to be in great shape with first and goal at the two and over 4 minutes left in the game. But after a couple stops to make it 4th and goal from the two, Harbaugh passed on the chip shot field goal to go for the 7.  That is simply respect for Allen and the Bills offense.


On the play, Jackson was pressured right away and threw a high floater off balance to the end zone, where Jordan Poyer made his second of two int’s to keep the Ravens off the board and give Buffalo the ball at the 20.


While McDermott and the Bills have been criticized for clock management, or mismanagement in some cases, they played this one perfectly.  The Bills did get a break on the ensuing drive when Allen did a bit of a Manchester United flop on a late hit and picked up the personal foul and 15 charity yards.  But the Bills milked the time while moving downfield, and they easily could have punched in a TD with a minute or so to play.  But they kneeled down inside the two and called a final timeout with :02 left.  Tyler Bass, who surprisingly had never kicked a game ending field goal, split the uprights as time expired and the Bills had a gutsy 23-20 win in the bag.


Lots of Bills heroes besides Allen. Linebacker Matt Milano had 13 tackles and made difficult open field tackles on Jackson a couple times to stop possible big gains.  Tremaine Edmunds had 9 tackles and was all over the field popping people.

Then there’s rookie WR Khalil Shaker, a 5th round pick out of Boise St who wasn’t even active until both Jamison Crowder and McKenzie were out.  Shaker jumped into the slot role and played like a veteran with a couple catch and runs for first downs in the second half.  Shaker’s not big but he’s really good.


Next up, the Bills host the Steelers, who’ll be a bitter bunch after losing at home to the Jets. The Bills can’t look ahead to the following week, but we can.  At Kansas City.


Great teams don’t always blow people out.  They also find ways to win when facing adversity, and that’s exactly what  the Bills did in Baltimore.  They now hope to get a bit healthier during the next week, because in the NFL it’s never easy.




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