Buffalo @ Minnesota: Highs and Lows

Raise your hand if you saw that one coming?  Yeah, that’s what I thought…none of you.  Even I’ll admit I thought the Bills were looking at 0-4 right in the face with games against two of the strongest teams the NFC had to offer.  Luckily, the Bills had something to say about that.  Here is my first installment of Highs and Lows of this year, followed by my final thoughts!

Highs

Josh Allen
Although his stat line doesn’t look too impressive at first glance, anyone who took a deeper look at the game knows that the quarterback play that the Bills had today was anything but subpar.  Josh Allen was accurate, confident and did not back down against a tough Minnesota defense.  The talk all week was about a rookie making his first career start in a hostile environment, but you wouldn’t have known Allen from a veteran today.  And that is becoming a theme with him.  Allen continues to look cool, calm and collected in all of his game action.  The moment has never looked too big for Josh Allen, even going back to the preseason, and that is a very good sign.  Of course, this week you will see Allen’s highlight plays, sacrificing his body with his 10 yard touchdown run and his gravity defying hurdle of Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr.  He also had multiple perfectly placed throws that were dropped by his receivers (more on that later).  The long and short of it is, anytime that a rookie QB is making his 2nd career start in a tough environment, against a premier defense that is a Super Bowl contender, and runs out to a 27-0 lead…you are ending up on the “high” list from me.

Jerry Hughes
This guy was an absolute madman today.  Hughes was wreaking havoc for Cousins all day long, as he was unblockable for much of the afternoon.  Although he was only credited for one sack, Hughes was responsible for many more broken plays and rushed throws.  Riley Reiff really struggled with Hughes on Sunday.

Leslie Frazier
What a tough week for Coach Frazier.  After an abysmal 6 quarters of football in Baltimore and at home against Los Angeles, he was essentially benched and McDermott took over play calling duties.  But according to McDermott, Frazier was the one who called the game this week.  And boy, what a game did he call!  What a way to respond, as Frazier came back to Minnesota, where he coached from 2011-2013.  He was certainly deserving of the game ball that he was awarded after the game.

Lows

Kelvin Benjamin
Not too many lows when you have the NFL’s biggest upset win in 23 years, but Kelvin Benjamin must top the negative side of this list.  If there was one player that I am 100% confident will not be on this roster next year (possibly next month) it is Kelvin Benjamin.  Aside from not knowing where to line up for his routes (it’s true, I saw it last week when I was at the game, Zay really does point to where he has to line up!), Benjamin isn’t doing Josh Allen any favors in the passing game.  He dropped two different beautifully thrown balls today, both of which would have extended drives. One of which would have set the Bills up with 1st and Goal at the one yard line.  For a number one wide receiver in a contract year, Kelvin is a major disappointment, but the Bills are so thin at the position, I don’t think they can just trade him to a team who wants a loaner WR, unless they get a WR in return.  I have seen enough of Benjamin on this team and I don’t want him around any longer.

Penalties
Specifically, the pre-snap and offensive line penalties continue to be an issue.  They were masked today because the Bills held such a big lead and it did not make a difference in the game, but it speaks to the lack of talent that they have on the offensive line.  In the second half, you saw more of the 2nd and 3rd and long situations for the Bills, which is why the offensive wasn’t as productive.

Final Thoughts

The Bills needed to win one of these NFC North games to “save” their season from becoming a total trainwreck with 3-4 wins.  They did that in convincing fashion today.  This year was always about Josh Allen and his progress.  So far, Josh has looked poised and worthy of all that they gave up to draft him 7th overall.  The Bills next opponent, the Packers, lost today and Aaron Rodgers has said he isn’t himself.  Maybe they give him a much needed week to rest his knee and the Bills can catch Green Bay on an off week, too.  Or maybe the Bills aren’t catching teams on an off week at all and it just took their defense some time to get going.  Maybe most of the draft “experts” are going to be wrong and this Josh Allen kid is going to be very good.  We will have to keep watching to find out.  But until next time, enjoy this one this week Bills fans.  In typical Buffalo fashion, it is never dull.  The Bills just pulled off the greatest upset the NFL has seen in the past 23 years, from 16.5 underdogs to winning by 17 on the road.

 

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