The Bills host the Broncos Sunday at New Era Field in what is a key, early-season conference game. A win is not impossible for the Bills and if they are to win, I believe these things have to happen:
1. Establish the run
The Bills are best when LeSean McCoy performs well. That has been the case for the past two years, and it will continue to be the case moving forward. The Bills are 9-1 when LeSean McCoy rushes for 100 yards or more. When he rushes for less than 100, the Bills are 4-14. Those stats tell the story of the identity of the Buffalo Bills since Doug Whaley traded Kiko Alonso for LeSean McCoy in March of 2015. If the Bills want success, they need to run the ball effectively. McCoy is coming off the worst statistical game of his career, with a putrid .75 yards per carry. Things won’t get easier this week for the Bills, as they face a stout Broncos defensive line. Through two games, the Broncos are allowing 52 rushing yards per game. But, good teams have to find a way despite the stats, so if the Bills are to win, they will have to get creative with the run game and win the battles upfront to allow McCoy to break free. If the Bills can get McCoy to 100 yards on the ground, history shows that they win 90% of the time. I like those odds.
2. Utilize the wide receivers
Through 2 games, Bills wide receivers have 11 catches for 149 yards. Those stats are split between Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones and Andre Holmes. As I wrote about earlier this week, I think the matchup of the week is Bills WR’s against Broncos CB’s. Yesterday, Jordan Matthews said that he didn’t believe that the problem with the receivers isn’t their inability to create separation, but rather being able to make the most of their chances when they are given them. Since there was no time for this receiving corps to develop route and play chemistry with Taylor, they must step up and make contested catches in coverage.
3. Get a turnover
The defensive performance Sunday against the Panthers rivaled the epic 2014 Packers game performance. The Bills did come up with some key turnovers in that game (Rambo!!!!), which helped propel them to victory. I am not going to criticize the defense last week, but a turnover would have been huge, and possibly the key to the touchdown that they needed. If the Bills defense can shorten the field for the offense and give them extra possessions, then I feel better about the Bills chances to upset the Broncos this week.
4. Have Special Teams show up
I think my 3rd and 4th keys to the game can be lumped into a category called “Make a Play.” If the Bills are to get a win, then I believe they need some unit to step up and make a play, and that includes the special teams. In the aforementioned Packers game, the Bills did have that key special teams touchdown. If Danny Crossman’s unit could do something rather than getting a block in the back penalty on a punt, I am sure that the entire team would appreciate it, and it would go a long way to push the Bills to a much-needed victory.
There they are, my keys to the game. What do you think Bills fans? Leave your thoughts below! Follow me on Twitter: @m_lafave