The Buffalo Bills have played to a 2-1 record on the strength of one of the league’s best defenses after three weeks. Where do they actually stand after their 26-16 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, and what does the offense need to do to catch up? Let’s take a look at the team stat rankings after Week 3.
Passing: 174.0 (29, last week 27)
Rushing: 111.3 (12, last week 8)
Total: 285.3 (26, last week 24)
Scoring: 16.7 (25, last week t-25)
Turnovers: 1 (t-1, last week t-6)
Third down conversion rate: 39.1% (15, last week t-14)
Tyrod Taylor and company raised the Bills’ season average in passing by 11.5 yards, but the team still dropped two spots and remain ahead of only the Panthers (168.3), Texans (166.7), and Ravens (121.3[!!!]) at this point. The rushing offense also continues to fall as LeSean McCoy has not been able to get it going for the last two games.
As a result, the Bills are firmly in the bottom tier of offenses and are well below the league averages of 330.6 yards per game and 21.8 points per game. One of the reasons they’re still sitting at 2-1 is the fact that they’re one of six teams in the NFL who have yet to turn the ball over more than once. They’re also right around the middle of the pack in third down conversions, which could be better but haven’t been dragging them down too much this year.
Passing: 203.0 (9, last week t-8)
Rushing: 75.3 (7, last week 5)
Total: 278.3 (6, last week 2)
Scoring: 12.3 (1, last week 4)
Takeaways: 4 (t-9, last week t-13)
No matter how you cut it, the Bills have been one of the best defensive teams in the NFL this year. The Broncos were able to bring the Bills down in total yardage with a few big plays, but it remains a top-10 defense in both passing and rushing yardage. More importantly, however, the Bills are a full point-per-game clear of the Carolina Panthers in scoring.
One of the things that helped limit the Broncos to 16 points were the two interceptions by the Bills’ defense, especially Tre’Davious White’s pick as the Broncos were looking to move into the red zone. All four of the Bills’ turnovers forced have been picks, a number that ties for third in the NFL. The next team on the list is the Detroit Lions with seven, three of which came off the quarterback the Bills face next week (Matt Ryan of the Falcons).
Turnover Differential: +3 (t-5, last week t-8)
Penalties: 19 (10, last week t-6)
Penalty Yards: 163 (t-8, last week 7)
Average time of possession: 25:12 (t-25, last week 27)
As I alluded to earlier, the turnover differential is probably the top reason that the Bills are 2-1 right now. The opening drive pick in the end zone of the Jets game remains the only time the Bills have coughed up the ball, while they’ve picked off four passes of their own. It’s probably no coincidence that the only game they didn’t force a turnover in is the one they lost.
There were a couple noticeable penalties last week, but overall this remains a much-improved squad in the discipline department. After finishing with the 10th-most penalties and 12th-most penalty yards given up last year, they look on track to finish on the other side of the chart in 2017. The time of possession is concerning (although the defense has done a great job of making it a non-issue), but it should correct itself as the season moves along. Only one team last year (the 49ers) finished below 28 minutes per game.