Buffalo Bills Look to Heal and Continue Momentum Through Bye Week.
The Buffalo Bills head into Week 6 of the NFL season with there only scheduled bye week of the year. The bye week for the Bills looks to be arriving at a convenient time for the team as they look to recover from lingering injuries. Despite all the injuries the Buffalo Bills head into this season’s bye week at 4-1, a vast improvement from last year’s 3-7 record.
Buffalo Displays Dominant Defense
The defensive side of the ball has been the specialty of head coach Sean Mcdermott in Orchard Park in 2017. Entering his third season as head coach, McDermott has turned this defense into a well-oiled machine. This defense arguably ranks among the top 5 within the national media, with many journalists giving Buffalo the top spot. The Bills also hold virtually a top ten place in almost every defensive category throughout the league. The best of the defense this season came in the only loss of the season against AFC East rival, Patriots. The Bills made the Patriots look below average throughout the game, and allowed only 150 passing yards and an interception from Tom Brady. The Future Hall of Famer and his offense heavily relied on there defense and special teams to give Buffalo there first loss of the season.
I firmly believe that if quarterback Josh Allen performed better, the Bills would have won that game. This defense has been nothing short of spectacular, allowing only 14 points per game. This stat is third-ranked in the league, only behind New England and Chicago. Even with the dominating play of this defense, there is still some room for improvement. The Bills are still allowing their opponents red zone touchdowns 60% of the time. Although this is 11% lower than last season, it is still too high to remain as a playoff threat. Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier has done a spectacular job with this defense. With his success, he may undoubtedly find himself in talks for head coaching vacancies this offseason.
“We needed this one! 4-1 going into the bye week.”Bills Safety Micah Hyde, after the 14-7 victory in Nashville Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans.
Impressive Start of the Season for the Ageless one, Frank Gore
It’s comedic how the NFL views running backs after they reach the age of 30. They are almost ousted out of the league as general managers assume productivity will diminish, and the injury rate will increase. In the majority of cases over the past decade, this is true, except for one dependable back, Frank Gore.
The 36-year-old Gore has led his team in rushing every season since hitting the “dreadful” 30-year-old mark, and yet teams have quickly moved on from him. The Bills signed Gore on a one year deal this offseason, making it Gore’s fourth NFL team. The third in the last three years. The impressive play from Gore in the preseason, and upside from rookie Devin Singletary allowed Buffalo to move on from long-time running back LeSean McCoy. McCoy then reunited with Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. Gore has been incredible and is now a part of the 15,000-yard club. He is only the 4th player in NFL history to reach this amazing stat, and quite possibly could be the last ever to make it to that number again.
New Receiving Core Showing Great Potential
The Bills went through an offensive makeover this past offseason, especially at the receiver position. The resurrection of this receiving core is led by former Baltimore Ravens wideout John Brown, and long-time Cowboy, Cole Beasley. Both Brown and Beasley were signed early in the offseason to give Josh Allen a more veteran presence. So far this season, it has worked out nicely for the Bills.
The team has seen almost a brand new slate of the wide receiver position, as the only two remaining on the roster from last season are Robert Foster and Isaiah McKenzie. Both Foster and McKenzie are receiving less playing time than last season, as they have become role-players within the offense. Although the snaps for these two are consistently limited, their playmaking abilities have not been unnoticed. Mckenzie did make a fantastic play in last week’s game against Tennesee that helped spark the second touchdown that ultimately won the game.
The recent game against the Titans highlighted another wide receiver for the Bills as well. Former Canadian Football League star Duke Williams was activated off the practice squad last week and was immediately an impact for Buffalo’s Offense. Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll played Williams in 56% of the team’s snaps, which helped him record the first touchdown of his career. The score that would ultimately lead the Bills to win and move on to 4-1.
With the astonishing play immediately from Duke Williams, this allowed Buffalo to move on from former 2nd round pick Zay Jones, and trade him to the Oakland Raiders. The Bills only received a 5th round selection for the 2021 draft in return, but Jones was not working or fitting in the scheme place by Daboll and the Bills. Jones, drafted out of East Carolina in 2018 and has great potential to revive his young career with the Raiders.
Stability is Key
The Bills have ultimately found a stable and competitive core to move forward with Josh Allen and this young offense. It will be intriguing to see if some of the viral rumors are true, and general manager Brandon Beane decides to add another weapon such as receiver to make a playoff push. Names such as A.J. Green and Stephon Diggs have been floating around with Buffalo’s name attached through social media the past few weeks. Although I don’t believe Buffalo needs to improve the wide receiver position anymore this season drastically, the question will remain until the trade deadline on October 29th.
Will Josh Allen Find Consistency After the Bye Week?
The Buffalo Bills have undoubtedly found their quarterback of the future in Josh Allen. The 2018 first-round draft pick, has grasped the leadership role required as a franchise quarterback and has done a great job doing so in the process. But unlike the solid play of Buffalo’s defense, the game of Josh Allen is still that, a process.
Allen started the season off with a disastrous first half against the New York Jets. Allen committed three turnovers and found himself behind, heading into the halftime locker room. Act two of that game saw a brand new Allen, where consistency found a home for Josh, and his game started to flow. Allen began to find a groove with newly acquired receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley and came away with the victory in New Jersey. We saw the same type of football games from Allen in weeks two and three against the Giants and Bengals. Both games mentioned before, found the Bills relying on Josh Allen to spark a comeback to win.
A Strong Start
The Bills were 3-0 to start the season and played with a deficit the majority of the time. Then came the game against New England. As I said in the defensive section above, this game was Buffalo’s if Allen played well. He did not. Josh Allen looked his worst when the team needed him the most against the defending champs. Josh Allen threw multiple interceptions, made terrible decisions, and costly reads throughout the football game. Allen left the game with an injury after not sliding when he should have. Allen was not thinking the way a franchise quarterback should be in week four and is one of the most significant factors on why Buffalo came away with a loss.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that Josh Allen has the full backing and support from the Front Office, and the Bills Mafia fan base, which means a lot in a city that cares so much for there Bills. The ceiling for Allen is tremendously high. General Manager Brandon Beane and the Bills staff made the right decision with Josh Allen in last year’s draft, as the upside is more significant than those that went ahead of him.
Quarterback of the Future?
The quarterback position for the Bills has had its woes arguably since the hay days of Jim Kelly. The position never entirely found an answer since 1996, until now. Allen is the quarterback the city of Buffalo has needed for so long. Look to see improvements right out of the bye week in week seven against Miami. Allen had a great game week 17 last season against the Dolphins and is bound to do it once more. The growing pains are likely to be seen again sometime in the season, though, for he is still a sophomore Q.B. However, the improvement will quickly come with help from Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll. I certainly like where Allen is heading. He will continue to improve and shine in this league for years to come.
Buffalo Bills Remaining Schedule Outlook
The remainder of the Buffalo Bills schedule leans to ease throughout the rest of the season after the bye week. With the remaining schedule, the Bills statistically will play the easiest teams compared to the rest of the NFL. The Bills ranks first in remaining schedules by opponents win percentage, as the Bills came in at .346. The winning percentage means that the teams remaining on the Bills schedule have only cumulatively won just under 35% of there completed football games.
The Bills will head into Miami when they return off the bye week in week 7. The Bills have been perfect so far on the road, as they have won all three games away from New Era Field. This stat is already an improvement from last season, as Josh Allen and company only went 2-6 on the road last season. The Dolphins go into Sunday with an 0-4 record, and the Bills still face them twice.
Lucky Strength of Schedule?
The Bills also will face division rival New York Jets one more time this season. The Jets have also not found there first win of the season as they are also 0-4. The Bills are slated to face the NFC East this season, as they have already defeated the New York Giants. The currently 0-5 Washington Redskins are on the schedule this season for the Bills. The Redskins, who recently fired Head Coach Jay Gruden will try to salvage as much as they can with there record, as they already seem to be looking past the 2019 season. The Bill’s easy schedule continues, as they are set to face the Denver Broncos this year in Orchard Park. The Broncos are currently 1-4.
There are a few games, however, Buffalo needs to pay attention too. Doing so would ensure they remain in the hunt for a playoff spot. The two more difficult teams in the NFC East should give the Bills a challenge this season. The Eagles come to New Era Field week eight and should be Josh Allen’s hardest game so far this season. Philadelphia, who started dull, have found their grove look to make a run of there own for the NFC East. Buffalo also find themselves playing on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1994. They will head to Dallas on turkey day and look to steal one from the Cowboys. The Bills have been dreadful in primetime games, and look to break the drought. The Bills have not won a primetime game since 2015.
Games of Interest
The Buffalo Bills will also face the remaining three teams from the AFC North, The Steelers, Browns, and Ravens. The Ravens are a serious team and have my pick to represent the AFC North in January. Baltimore features another 2018 drafted quarterback in Lamar Jackson and is very mobile-like Allen. The Bill’s defense will have their hands full with the Ravens and could be worrisome for their record.
The injury bug has caught the Pittsburgh Steeler this year. Both Ben Rothlisberger, and Mason Rudolph have gone down with injuries, leaving head coach Mike Tomlin to his third-string signal-caller. The Steelers always play tough, however, and could be a swing game come towards the end of the season.
The Bills still have one game remaining against the Patriots this regular season, as well. Could this be a game of payback, or will Tom Brady continue to dominate the Bills as he has done his entire career? Even with another loss from New England, the Buffalo Bills are still sitting pretty in the AFC Standings after the bye week.
Too Early to Circle The Wagons?
Are the Buffalo Bills playoff-bound? Although there is plenty of football remaining this season, I believe the chances for Buffalo to see the second trip to the playoffs since 1999 are extremely high. The astonishing play of the defense and the strength of schedule alone should be enough to allow Buffalo in as a wildcard contender. Barring injuries, this team has the potential to compete with the Patriots for the top of the AFC East. However, with the high-end play of Brady and the Patriots, I have my doubts. My prediction for the Buffalo Bills at the bye week as we stand today is 11-5. This record would be good enough for a fifth seed in the AFC playoffs. Keep faith Bills Mafia, and continue to circle the wagons. We may be seeing one of the best Bills teams in a very long time.