The Buffalo Bills feasted on the New Orleans Saints for Thanksgiving, winning in a 31-6 rout that could have been even more lopsided. The Bills’ defense was firing on all cylinders against a toothless New Orleans offense that was missing its starting quarterback, as well as one of the league’s premier talents in running back Alvin Kamara.
Buffalo took control of the game early by running the ball, and they were able to maintain that control by running an efficient, balanced attack throughout the evening. The Bills had 32 rushing attempts and 28 passing attempts—a rare game where the team kept it on the ground more often than they let it fly through the air.
Our players to watch this week each contributed to the final outcome—some with better results than others. Here’s how our picks played.
QB Josh Allen
Allen was a ticky-tack ineligible man downfield penalty away from a five-touchdown, one interception performance. Instead, he had to settle for a four-touchdown, two interception performance. The negative is that Allen turned it over two more times. The positive is that, of the two picks, one involved his arm being hit as he threw (and, as Drew Brees pointed out in the broadcast, Allen was late in throwing the ball) and the other seemed to be a miscommunication between Stefon Diggs and him. Allen was hyper-efficient, completing 23-of-28 passes on the night for 260 yards. He also rushed eight times for 43 more yards, contributing to a rushing attack that gained 113 yards on one of the league’s best run defenses. Allen wasn’t perfect, but he was poised, willing to take what the defense gave him, and unafraid to take risks when they made sense. Overall, it was a good night.
RB Matt Breida
Okay, so I struck out on the wild predictions about Breida going over 100 yards, but he was still a big part of the offense and the game plan throughout the evening. In the first half, Breida had twice as many carries as Devin Singletary had, rushing eight times for 28 yards. However, on the aforementioned ineligible man downfield play, Breida appeared to go the wrong way on what seemed to be a screen pass to him. That led to a benching, which also seemed to give Singletary a spark. The usual Buffalo starter was the hot hand in the second half, and Breida didn’t see much action, if any at all, until the fourth quarter. He did score a touchdown, though, going 23 yards on a beautifully executed screen pass to score Buffalo’s final touchdown of the night. Breida finished with nine carries for 26 yards, and two catches for 29 yards and a touchdown.
WR Stefon Diggs
The Bills’ number-one wideout took Marshon Lattimore to the Stevie Johnson School of Filthy Routes on Buffalo’s first drive of the second half. Diggs absolutely juked the Pro Bowl corner out of his shoes, catching a five-yard dart from Josh Allen to score. It was clear that the game plan was set to feature a healthy dose of Diggs, as Allen threw around one-third of his passes to the All-Pro wideout. Allen targeted Diggs nine times, and he caught seven of those passes for 74 yards and that touchdown. It’s amazing how much better this passing game looks when Diggs is fed the ball.
LT Dion Dawkins
It was not a banner night for the cornerstone of the offensive line. Dawkins was called for a holding penalty that was as awful a beat as it was an obvious hold. He was blown up by Saints defenders on more than one occasion, as runs to the left didn’t work nearly as well as those to the right. His road isn’t any easier this week, as a date with the New England Patriots means that Bill Belichick is scheming ways to make him look bad, and with players (Matthew Judon and Kyle Van Noy, among others) who have done just that to Dawkins at some point already during his career.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Buffalo’s leading tackler on the year was also their leading tackler on Thanksgiving, notching eight stops in his first game back after missing two with a hamstring strain. Edmunds showed no ill effects from the hamstring issue, which is a great sign given how those kinds of injuries tend to linger. He was able to run sideline-sideline all night, which bodes well for his health heading into that all-important date with New England next Monday night.