The Buffalo Bills look to make it two in a row this week after picking up their first victory of the 2021 NFL season last Sunday. A 35-0 road shellacking of the Miami Dolphins set the stage for a Week 3 contest back in Orchard Park against the Washington Football Team, who are coming off an improbable victory on Thursday Night Football in Week 2.
The Bills have plenty of room to grow even after such a dominating victory last week. Which players are we looking at to step up and lead the team to victory this week? Here’s our list.
QB Josh Allen
QB1 said that he knows he needs to play better. Fans know that he needs to play better. The coaching staff knows that he needs to play better, even if they haven’t directly said so themselves. A matchup with a team that sports one of the league’s best young pass rushers in Chase Young doesn’t sound like an obvious “get right” game but, for the Allen, it could be exactly what he needs to find a rhythm. With running back Devin Singletary finding more success on the ground thus far, averaging over six yards per carry this season, the Bills’ rushing attack has proven to be something worth scheming against. Zack Moss scored two touchdowns last week, as well, so the Bills have been able to run with some success this year. If the team wants to allow Allen to establish an early rhythm, running some play-action to give him quick throws with easy “either-or” reads will do the trick.
WR Stefon Diggs
The Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers both surrounded Diggs with tight coverage, placing multiple defenders around Buffalo’s top target. This has limited last year’s leader in receptions and receiving yards to fairly pedestrian numbers early on—21 targets, 13 catches, and 127 yards, with a 9.9 yards-per-catch average and a catch rate of just 61.9 percent—but Diggs is always one game away from a breakout. If the play-action plan I proposed above works as I expect, Diggs should have room on in-breaking routes in the intermediate-middle of the field.
RT Daryl Williams
Chase Young is a wrecking ball. Washington will move him around the formation a little, switching him between left and right end depending on the matchup. I’m willing to bet that they’ll view the matchup with Williams as better than the one with Dion Dawkins, and while both tackles will need to be on their game on Sunday, it’s Williams who I think will be tested earlier and more frequently.
DE A.J. Epenesa
What can he do for an encore? After last week’s amazing performance where he managed three quarterback hits and nine pressures but no sacks of his own, Epenesa will look to take down Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Epenesa has played 40 percent of the defensive snaps to begin year two, and his transformation has been incredible. Given how good the Bills’ defensive front and pass rush have looked this season, we could be talking about any number of players in this space during the recap, but I think Epenesa comes out hot again on Sunday.
CB Dane Jackson
With Levi Wallace missing the latter portion of last week’s game due to what head coach Sean McDermott termed “irritation” in his knee, Jackson played in his place then and he could be in line to play more this week, as well. Wallace is still limited in practice, and if he can’t go on Sunday, Jackson would obviously be in line for a big uptick in snaps. Even if Wallace can play, the Bills might employ more of a rotation to make sure that Wallace avoids aggravating the knee further. Jackson made a key tackle on a fourth down last week to stop Miami on one of their four failed fourth-down attempts. He has five tackles on the year.