The Buffalo Bills will square off with the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday— in what could be the toughest game of the year for the Bills. The Vikings are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. Minnesota might just be the most complete team the Bills face all season.
Each of the five players below have the potential to make a lasting impact on Sunday’s game.
QB Josh Allen
Allen is going to be on this list more often than not throughout the year, and for good reason. In his first NFL start last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, he struggled. That’s to be expected with a rookie quarterback as raw as he was coming out of college. There were some bright spots that got people excited for the future, and those moments will need to become more routine as the season progresses. For now, he must try to accomplish that task against the Vikings, who arguably have the best defense in the NFL.
WR Ray-Ray McCloud III
McCloud has yet to play a regular-season snap for the Bills. With the random release of Jeremy Kerley, McCloud has a chance to get a lot of playing time on Sunday if his knee doesn’t keep him off the field. Since Allen worked with the second- and third-team offense most of training camp and preseason, McCloud and he have established the most chemistry out of the group of the receivers. It’s no guarantee he plays this week with his knee keeping him a limited participant in practice but, if he does, I’d expect Allen to look his way more than expected. McCloud also has that spark to bring to the special teams unit as a returner after Marcus Murphy looked like a liability returning punts last week.
Last week it was Vontae Davis for almost two full quarters before he called it quits on his career in the most unorthodox way possible. Now, who does that spot go to? Phillip Gaines?He looked like a lost puppy on the field when he got the start against the Baltimore Ravens. Maybe it’s Lafayette Pitts, who subbed in for Davis after his mid-game retirement against the Chargers. The second corner spot is a mammoth of an issue for the Bills this week as they face two top-15 receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, with Kirk Cousins throwing them the ball.
DT Star Lotulelei
The 50-million-dollar-man hasn't recorded a single tackle this season. I know, he takes on double teams and clogs the middle, but not having a single tackle through the first two games is not what you want to see from the anchor of your defensive line. I don't want to say he's played poorly, because he hasn't—but he hasn't played like you'd expect someone signing a monster free-agent contract.
LB Lorenzo Alexander
Alexander was, without a doubt, the Bills’ best defensive player against the Chargers. His tenacity to get after the quarterback in pass-rush situations is unlike anyone on the Bills defense, including Jerry Hughes. Alexander lines up in a lot of different spots on the front seven, but as an edge rusher he seems to be the most effective. The Bills’ pass rush will need to come alive like it did in the second half last week, if it’s going to make Cousins uncomfortable and throw the timing off for the Vikings receivers.