The Buffalo Bills host the Kansas City Chiefs in an early-evening Monday game, with kickoff set for 5 p.m. EDT. We hope for a far better result than last week’s contest, which ended in a 42-16 massacre via the Tennessee Titans, because nobody circles those wagons like our Bills.
The Bills will need to play much better this week if they want to defeat the defending Super Bowl champs. Which players will be the greatest keys to success? Here’s who we’ll be watching.
QB Josh Allen
After a scorching-hot month of September where he won Offensive Player of the Month honors, Allen has come back to Earth a bit in October. He played well against the Las Vegas Raiders (24/34, 288, 2 TDs), but he struggled to find a solid rhythm against Tennessee, completing 26-of-41 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Granted, one of those picks wasn’t really his fault, as Andre Roberts turned a third-down conversion into a batted-ball interception for Malcolm Butler. Allen locked on to Stefon Diggs too much in the first half, only targeting Cole Beasley for the first time with his first toss of the third quarter. Allen needs to bounce back this week with a much better start than he had in Tennessee on Tuesday. If he begins the game with similar numbers as he had in last week’s first half (10/21, 121, 1 TD, 1 INT), then the Bills will probably find themselves in a hole that they won’t be able to dig out of against Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s high-powered offense.
RB Devin Singletary
What a disappointing start to the season it’s been for Buffalo’s top back, who many thought was primed to break out given a larger role this season. Singletary only has 238 and one touchdown on 61 carries. That’s just 3.9 yards per attempt. Part of the issue seems to be due to scheme and blocking, as Singletary is constantly met by defenders in the backfield upon touching the ball. Perhaps Buffalo’s offensive line isn’t good enough at run blocking? Maybe the number of three-and-four receiver sets limits how much the front unit can slow opposing players. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the team is using Singletary between the tackles more than they did last year, and that really isn’t his strength. Sure, he’s their “top back,” and old-school feature backs run between the tackles. Singletary is better suited outside, where his ridiculous stop-on-a-dime agility makes defenders look foolish. I’d love to see the Bills make a concerted effort to give Singletary the ball in space.
DT Ed Oliver
Buffalo’s top draft choice in the 2019 NFL Draft has been quiet for much of the season. Defensive tackles don’t often gather the “sexy” stats, and it’s true that Oliver is Buffalo’s leader in quarterback hits this year with four. Yes, that’s all. Four. That ties Oliver for 59th among all players this year. He has nine tackles, one sack, those four QB hits, two tackles for loss, and one pass knockdown. Against the league’s preeminent superstar in Mahomes, some pressure right up the middle would certainly help Buffalo’s cause. Oliver has big-time talent, and making a big-time splash in drive-time primetime would be a big step for him and for the team.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
A shoulder injury has really slowed Buffalo’s middle linebacker, as the third-year player has not looked up to snuff this year. There are some people who are far smarter than me (I’m looking at you, Lorenzo Alexander) who are professing faith in Edmunds, and I’ll defer to those smarter minds. However, it would be nice to see him come in and affect the game from the first snap—dominate run gaps, contain All-Pro Travis Kelce, and maybe add a hit or two on Mahomes for good measure—to make me feel a little better. Edmunds has 29 tackles and one pass breakup in four games this year. That’s not a line that screams impact player. Edmunds is better than he’s played so far, and he’ll need to be better than he’s played so far if Buffalo is going to win on Monday.
CB Cam Lewis
Tre’Davious White returned to practice, which is good news. Josh Norman should then be relegated to CB2 duties where he belongs at this stage of his career. I’d like to see more of Lewis, who looked good in run support and fine in coverage, as well. With Taron Johnson struggling mightily, I’d like to see the Bills give Lewis a shot at taking some reps in the slot. Lewis played 65 snaps on Tuesday, notching seven tackles. He was targeted three times, allowing two catches for 19 yards on the evening. Johnson, on the other hand, has allowed 25-of-33 targets to be completed on the year for a total of 260 yards. With the Bills struggling most in the middle portion of the field defensively, that’s the spot where I expect change to come. Swapping Lewis in for Taron Johnson this week could be the first domino to fall.