Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- The tropical storm moving up the east coast over the weekend could affect this one – current expectations are winds up to 20-25 mph but with little to no rain.
- These two teams combine to account for over 72 offensive plays run from scrimmage per team per game, well above the league average of just over 65.
- While both offenses can be considered top-half units, both defenses have largely suppressed scoring on a per-drive basis (Buffalo ranks eighth in red zone touchdown rate allowed, and Washington ranks third).
- Dawson Knox missed practice Wednesday with a back injury.
- Logan Thomas missed practice Wednesday with a concussion.
- The Buffalo defense has faced the fewest plays through two weeks at just 92.
How buffalo Will Try To Win ::
The Bills have continued their recent trend of an emphasis on the passing game but have surprisingly played at a snail’s pace to begin the season, carrying the league’s third-highest pass rate over expectation but averaging 30.9 seconds per play (29th) through two weeks. Even with the modest pace, Buffalo has run 69 and 78 offensive plays in their first two games, well above the league-wide average of just over 65. The Bills have shifted to a more bend-don’t-break defensive philosophy built around nickel alignments, which, if it continues forward, should allow opposing offenses to pile up the yards against them. That said, they have also allowed a touchdown on only 40 percent of opposing drives entering the red zone after finishing last season ranked second overall at 45.61 percent. Teams that crack the defense in the red zone against Buffalo will have the chance to send games against them to the moon, but those should be considered largely few and far between. After the selection of tight end Dalton Kincaid in the first round of this year’s draft, the Bills have played from 12-personnel at the highest rate in the league (73 percent in Week 1 and 50 percent in Week 2). It appears as if they’re still trying to figure out their offensive personnel groupings, but we should largely expect them to carry those tendencies forward for as long as Knox and Kincaid remain healthy (that bears weight this week because Knox missed Wednesday’s practice with a back injury).
James Cook is the lead back in this offense. That said, he has played exactly 59 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in each of the first two games and has come off the field in the red zone at a troubling rate. Latavius Murray and Damien Harris have mixed in for the remainder of the backfield snaps. Both Murray and Harris have found the end zone while Cook has not, highlighting the team’s propensity to bring in one of their bigger backs in the red zone. The other side of that discussion is the continued usage of Cook in the passing game, who has seen ten targets through two contests. The Commanders have allowed Arizona backs and Denver backs to rush for 4.5 yards per carry, ninth most in the league. The final piece to consider here is the relative strength-on-strength nature of the matchup behind a Bills offensive line that blocked to 2.2 yards before contact in Week 2 against a Washington defense that boasts one of the most talented defensive lines in the league.
From a baseline expectation, Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis should be viewed as the only near-every-down pass-catchers for the Bills moving forward. All of Trent Sherfield, Deonte Harty, Khalil Shakir, and Quintin Morris are likely to mix in sporadically, with both Knox and Kincaid the two that could see the most week-to-week variation in their playing time dependent upon matchup and game plan. We know this offense is built around Josh Allen and what he can do both on the ground and through the air. Although Diggs continues to carry a non-elite snap rate (85.6 percent), he has been in a route on 100 percent of the team’s pass plays. The bigger concern is a continued emphasis on intermediate, more possession-style areas of the route tree, as evidenced by his modest 8.5 aDOT. His yards per route run rests at a non-elite 2.05 (28th), which is markedly lower than the 11.2 aDOT and 2.87 YPRR values from a season ago. Davis’ deep role (13.3 aDOT) and high route participation rate (also 100 percent) continue to provide tantalizing upside in the face of a low targets per route run rate (13.8 percent) and target market share (14.9 percent).