So the Buffalo Bills are 3-0. Josh Allen was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September and is in the MVP discussion after three games. Stefon Diggs looks to be a home-run acquisition for the wide receiver room. The defense, while seeming to struggle somewhat through these first three games, has shown flashes of still being a top-tier defense similar to what they were last season. So it is expected the Bills should be victorious against a Las Vegas Raiders team and start the season 4-0 for the first time since 2008. However, they can’t downplay this Raiders team.
It’s very rare to see a Buffalo Bills team favored against an above .500 team on the road. Most analysts I’ve seen throughout the week are saying the Bills should be the winners on Sunday and they should handle a team the likes of which the Bills have more talent. That doesn’t mean they should take it easy on the Raiders.
Buffalo’s offense should be able to continue moving the ball down the field against this Raiders defense. Las Vegas had a tough time stopping the run last week, as Sony Michel had over 100 yards rushing, and Rex Burkhead had two rushing touchdowns, plus another touchdown through the air. I would expect Buffalo to try and attack this defense using Devin Singletary as the main focal point. In this game it’s not the offense of the Bills surprisingly that I’m concerned about. I’m concerned more about how their defense plays this week.
The Bills have shown a really bad tendency to let teams hang around for far too long. The defense so far this year has had too many breakdowns and they don’t have the same killer mentality from last year. Last year, you would expect the defense to come out and dominate almost every week. This year is a far different story. There still seems to be an expectation for the defense to come out and play good, but they seem to have become too relaxed with the lead and let teams in games too many times.
As stated earlier, they’ve shown flashes, but have not been consistent enough so far. I have faith that they can get the defense back on track. Head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier have led defenses that always seem to rebound in some ways after bad starts. They did it in the first half last week for a short period of time, but then the collapse happened in the second half. For now, I won’t be surprised if this trend of big plays allowed by the defense continues.
The Bills need to be careful not to take Las Vegas lightly. While key players on the Raiders offense like rookie Henry Ruggs III don’t look promising to play, and Bryan Edwards is out, the Bills still have to worry about Josh Jacobs, who had some success running against the New England Patriots. They also still have to worry about tight end Darren Waller, who was shut out last week in the passing game, but still has to be taken seriously as one of the best tight ends in the league today.
The Bills are coming off a week where they had to match up against guys like Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee, and Jared Goff. The Raiders clearly don’t have the same type of firepower as the Rams, but we’ve seen this Bills defense give up big plays against lesser opponents like the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. The bottom line is this: The Bills are well coached. The offense has been stellar out of the gate, while the defense is lagging behind and needs work. Upsets happen all the time, and this week seems to have the feeling of a trap game for the Bills. I do expect them to win on Sunday, but things could get dicey if their third-quarter woes continue and they let the Raiders stick around for too long.
Prediction: Bills defeat Raiders, 27-14.