Currently, the New York Times NFL Playoff Simulator has the Buffalo Bills at a 50% chance to make the playoffs. A win Sunday against the Oakland Raiders bumps that up to 61%; a loss knocks them down to 37%. Long story short, Sunday is a very important game for the Bills and their pursuit of a playoff spot. Here’s how they’ll either greatly help or hurt their chances.
The Bills lose if they defend the pass like they did against the Buccaneers
Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier’s defense gave up more than 20 points for the first time all season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The main reason for that was their inability to stop Jameis Winston and the Bucs passing attack. The Buccaneers threw for a season high (both for the Bills defense and the Bucs offense) 378 yards.
Much like the Bucs, the Oakland Raiders have two very talented receivers in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. Also like the Bucs, the Raiders are coming off their best passing game of the season. Last Thursday night the Raiders threw for 417 yards on the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Bills defense allows them to have the same success, then the Bills offense will have to keep up like the Chiefs offense did. Tyrod and Company improved last week, but they’re certainly not the number one offense in the league like the Chiefs are.
The Bills win if Tyrod Taylor and the offense continues to improve
As I stated earlier, Sunday was the first time the Bills defense gave up over 20 points this season. That didn’t lead to a Bills loss because the offense stepped up big time. Tyrod threw for 261 yards, the most he has in 2017. LeSean McCoy ran for his first two touchdowns of 2017. Just five days into his tenure as a Bill, Deonte Thompson had the best game by a Bills wide receiver in 2017. This, and more, all added up to most yards (434) and points (30) the offense has earned this season. The changes Rick Dennison made over the bye week seem to be working and the Bills offense has another favorable matchup this week. If that train keeps rolling the Bills will get their fifth win of the 2017 season.
The Bills defense (and the refs) will be happy not to see Marshawn Lynch on the field Sunday, but they’ll still have their hands full with Derek Carr and his pair receiving weapons. Once again the Bills offense has the easier matchup and will need to take advantage of to get the team a win.