Opposition Research: Breaking Down the Bills

The Chargers enter week 11 at 3-6. Due to the decline of the AFC across the board this year, they are still very much alive in the wildcard race. To sneak into the playoffs they will have to pass a bunch of teams that are separated by just a game or two. One of those teams is the Bills, who are 5-4, who they will take on this Sunday. Here's what they can expect from the Bills on both sides of the ball:


The Chargers get Buffalo at seemingly a very opportune time. It's the first game in a transition period for the Bills as the Nathan Peterman-era officially begins with the fifth round rookie from Pitt taking over for a benched Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. Taylor hasn't been terrible (although he's been worse than his numbers suggest), but the new regime in Buffalo clearly doesn't think he's the future so it makes sense for them to see what they have in Peterman before considering whether to draft a quarterback early in April.

It is an interesting move considering the Bills have done much better than expected so far this season. They started 5-2 but have now dropped their past two games. Despite currently being in line for a playoff spot if the season ended today, the front office/coaching staff clearly don't think they're a playoff team and are essentially giving up on that hope, and for good reason. The Bills have played much worse than their 5-4 record, being beneficiaries of a huge amount of luck.

In four out of their five wins, the Bills have been out-gained in total yards and their yards-per-play metrics are terrible. They were able to win five games by getting a ton of balls to bounce their way, getting a ton of lucky tipped interceptions and fumble recoveries. Even after dropping their last two games, they're still first in the NFL in turnover differential with an astounding +11.

The focal point of the Bills offense and the number one thing Gus Bradley will have to focus on this week is LeSean Mccoy. Despite being in his age-29 season, Mccoy certainly hasn't lost a step. Despite his numbers being down a bit this year (157 carries for 595 yards, 3.8 YPC) it's mostly due to defenses selling out to stop him and Taylor not being able to get much going through the air. Mccoy is still electric in space and has looked as excellent as ever when he has room to run.

Denzel Perryman returning last week provided a much needed boost to the run defense as he helped stifle Leonard Fournette and they'll need him to step up again this week to help keep Mccoy in check. The Bills are likely to lean on Mccoy more than ever with backup running back Mike Tolbert looking unlikely to play and Peterman making his first career start.

Peterman is being put in a tough spot with his first start coming against a Chargers defense that is nearing elite status. The Bills' receivers aren't very good, even with the acquisition of Kelvin Benjamin, and Peterman really should struggle. If the Chargers can build off of last week's encouraging performance against the run and get out to a fast start forcing Peterman to throw as much as possible, the defense could be in for a very big day.


Like the team as a whole, the Bills defense has over-achieved so far this year. They're middle of the pack at 15th in points per game allowed, but are 25th in yards allowed.

This Buffalo defense is a lot different from the unit Rex Ryan commanded last year. New Bills coach Sean McDermott is a defensive minded coach, having been the defensive coordinator in Carolina before being hired by Buffalo.

It's not just the coaching, the defensive personnel has changed a lot too. The Bills traded away their top corner Ronald Darby to the Eagles, linebacker Reggie Ragland to the Chiefs and just before the deadline defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. They in turn received cornerback E.J. Gaines from the Rams in the Sammy Watkins trade, and he's slid in as their new top corner.

As mentioned previously, the Bills' improbable turnover luck contributed greatly to their hot-start, and masked some of the weaknesses on their defense. They've been getting exposed the last couple weeks on the ground, getting shredded by the Jets and Saints rushing attacks their past two games.

This past Sunday, the Saints pounded the ball relentlessly and ran at will. The Saints had one 10-play, 94-yard touchdown drive in which they didn't pass the ball a single time. Anthony Lynn and his staff have certainly been watching the film, so expect them to come out and try and attack the Bills on the ground as well. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler should be getting plenty of touches as the Chargers game-plan will probably be to run the ball as much as possible and play ball-control, attempting to make Peterman beat them. Lynn likes to get a little too run-happy at times, so the Chargers will have to avoid getting too committed to the run if it isn't working. Their run game and offensive line are nowhere near where the Saints' are.

Lynn is very familiar with Buffalo, having served on Rex Ryan's staff there the past few seasons before becoming head coach of the Chargers. While it is an entirely new regime for Buffalo, a lot of the players are still the same. Hopefully Lynn knows a lot of their tendencies and weaknesses and will be able to use them to his advantage.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It's another perfect-spot for the Chargers, one of several they've had so far this year. The defense couldn't really ask for a better match-up, and Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram should be able to feast on Peterman. If the offense can avoid making any crucial mistakes and losing the turnover battle, they should be able to get the win.


Popular posts from this blog

Dak Prescott disrespects Chargers defensive line: "Up front, they might not be the most talented team we play"

The Chargers officially have a new franchise player: Joey Bosa is on a record setting pace

Chargers bring in three kickers for workout - including Younghoe Koo