Two more wins very likely locks in a playoff berth for the Buffalo Bills. The regular season is coming to a close very quickly, with only five games left. The Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, and New York Jets remain. It’s not an overly fun schedule, but the Bills had the luxury of a schedule filled with less-than-stellar teams thus far this year. Let’s hope they’re warmed up.
I may have mentioned previously that one of my brothers is a Philadelphia Eagles fan. I’ll be at his house for Thanksgiving during my live watch of the Bills/Cowboys game and Bills Mafia will have a temporary fan on Thursday afternoon. The Cowboys are a talented team that frankly shouldn’t be 6-5 but is hamstrung by a below-average coach and some questionable decisions. They have top-10 players at multiple positions and will pose one of the toughest tests of the season for the improving Josh Allen and the Bills as a whole.
What can Buffalo do to send Jason Garrett closer to the unemployment line? I have some thoughts...
Be careful how you handle Josh Allen’s potential nerves
It’s been a topic of conversation here at Buffalo Rumblings and other platforms this week: Josh Allen is playing in arguably the biggest game of his life on Thursday. National television, Jerry World, Thanksgiving Day, no competing games...the eyes of every hardcore and casual football fan will be on this game. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Sean McDermott might lean on some traditional wisdom to help Josh Allen “settle into” the game with some easy short passes and a run-heavy early game plan this week.
I’m not sure that’s how Josh Allen works.
Give Allen some play-action passes over the middle of the field and let him gun them in along with some zone read to start the game. He’s very liable to look like Carson Wentz missing a swing pass five yards over a running back’s head if he’s too jacked up for the game and that’s a good way to get yourself a pick-six early to snowball the game. Touch throws will likely be the hardest for Josh to execute in an adrenaline-saturated state and the Bills should start off by letting him do things that allow him a healthy release of that instead of fighting against it.
Help on Gallup
If the Bills lose this game because Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper roasted cornerback Tre’Davious White to the tune of seven catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns, I’ll live with that. It appears less likely within the spectrum of potential outcomes than Cowboys WR2 Michael Gallup lighting up Bills CB2 Levi Wallace. Every single time this year that Dak Prescott has blown up for over 400 yards passing, Gallup has been the main beneficiary with over 100 yards receiving. The Bills can beat and even blow out a team if the quarterback throws for 300+ yards and a receiver gets 100+; it happened against the Miami Dolphins with Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeVante Parker. What they may not be able to survive is a secondary receiver causing Bills fans to question whether the team needs to draft a CB high in the 2020 NFL Draft to accommodate for an embarrassing failure.
If there is safety help to be given, give it to Gallup’s man and let Tre do what he does.
Prioritize the deep ball
In preparation for this article, I went back and watched the film of the New York Jets’ game against the Cowboys earlier this year. Even with a healthy Jeff Heath (he has a neck injury and appears unlikely to play this week against the Bills), the Cowboys got burned by deep crossers (a favorite of Josh Allen) and a particularly heart-wrenching “go” ball en route to more than a few 15+-yard pass plays. It appears unlikely that Dallas will play two-deep the whole game and make Allen beat them with shorter passes due to their likely emphasis on stopping Singletary and the run game. Allen will need to be able to take advantage.
Along these same lines, there are a few gentleman playing on Thursday who would like very much for Allen not to have the time necessary to complete deeper passes. DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn represent an excellent edge-rushing duo and Bills right tackle Cody Ford will face his second tough challenge in a row. The Bills didn’t give Ford a ton of help this past Sunday against the Denver Broncos with double teams and chip blocks, and they may be prepared to go into Thursday will similar thoughts. However, having plays at the ready with tight end pass-blocking assistance is a must if the test reveals itself to be too much for the rookie lineman out of Oklahoma.
...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan for Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter @BruceExclusive and look for episodes of “The Nick & Nolan Show” every week on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!