The Buffalo Bills and the Green Bay Packers squared off on Sunday Night Football, and while the score showed a closer-than-expected 27-17 win for Buffalo, it wasn’t a game that ever felt out of the Bills’ control. After building a comfortable 24-7 lead at halftime, Buffalo stalled out offensively in the second half, netting just three points and committing two turnovers that prevented the score from becoming more lopsided.
Buffalo’s offense wasn’t the only unit that had an uncharacteristic game, as the defense also allowed more total yards than they have in any contest this season. Those yards didn’t lead to points very often, though, and the game still is one where the team that scores the most wins. Ultimately, those yards were empty.
Our players to watch definitely stepped up this week, as the Bills ground out their sixth win of the season in primetime. Here’s how our five players to watch performed this week.
RB Devin Singletary
Well, he came up short of my big prediction, as he didn’t hit 100 yards rushing for the game or score one touchdown, let alone two. What Singletary did do, though, was prove yet again that he’s a strong option on the ground and in the passing game, and that he is the clear-cut RB1 on this roster as it’s currently constructed. Singletary had 15 touches overall—14 rushing and one reception—and he totaled 83 yards on the day. 67 of those yards came on the ground, while 16 came on his lone reception. Singletary might have been able to score the two touchdowns I had him projected for if he possessed more breakaway speed—as he was tracked down in the first quarter on a long run, and he also was tackled with a last-ditch lunge at his ankles on a nine-yard gain in the fourth quarter that could have gone for much more. The Bills went away from the run a bit when they were up 27-10 in the fourth quarter (more on that below), and rookie running back James Cook had some quality snaps and touches, as well. Singletary remains the top dog in the backfield, however, and he had another strong game.
WR Stefon Diggs
I was so confused by the animosity between Diggs and Green Bay cornerback Jaire Alexander. When the two came out of the tunnel jawing, I thought it was odd, but what was even stranger was Alexander’s insistence on continuing to run his mouth even as the Bills expanded their lead—and Diggs continued to make big play after big play. What made it even stranger was that Alexander didn’t even cover Diggs for most of the night. I don’t understand what happened, but I do know that Diggs caught six passes for 108 yards and a touchdown on the night, and when Buffalo eschewed the run in favor of the pass up 17 in the fourth quarter, I assume that it was a direct attempt to embarrass Alexander. That plan blew up in Buffalo’s face, as quarterback Josh Allen threw two awful interceptions, but neither of those plays affected the outcome of the game in any way. When Allen hit Diggs on a gorgeous out-and-up for the game’s second touchdown? That was a big play. When Diggs burned the Green Bay secondary for a 53-yard gain just before halftime? That was a big play. Diggs may not have cared who started the beef, but regardless of what Alexander said after the game, it was Buffalo’s WR1 who ended the game with the upper hand.
DE Greg Rousseau
Buffalo’s defensive line had a weird game. In a contest where the opponent trailed by three scores in the fourth quarter, one would assume that the defensive line would have plenty of chances to pin their ears back and rush the passer. However, Green Bay was content to continue running the football successfully, thereby chewing time off the clock that they desperately needed to attempt to win the game at the end. It was a bizarre strategy that certainly didn’t work. Rousseau, for his part, was a problem all night, as he sacked quarterback Aaron Rodgers and knocked him down twice. Rousseau totaled four tackles in addition to the sack.
DT Ed Oliver
The line score reads that Oliver had a mere two assisted tackles and one quarterback hit on the night. However, he had a sack wiped out due to a dubious hands-to-the-face penalty on cornerback Dane Jackson, and he was a constant presence in the offensive backfield when Green Bay dared to pass. Buffalo invited the Packers to run, and Green Bay obligated, so the run defense numbers look putrid. However, Oliver looked every bit the disruptive force that we expect him to be, signaling that his ankle may finally be fully healthy after the bye week.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Buffalo’s middle linebacker didn’t come up with an interception—that was teammate Matt Milano, who finally secured one in the fourth quarter after having two other Rodgers passes glance off his hands—but he had a strong game regardless. Edmunds had 16 total tackles, 13 of which were solo stops. That’s a massive output, though it’s not entirely surprising given the number of runs Green Bay called in this one. Edmunds also had a pass breakup on the evening. I’m not going to dock Edmunds for being the main reason the Packers rushed for 208 yards on the day. That was the scheme, as it was pretty clear that the Bills were fine with Green Bay running as long as they could keep Rodgers from throwing deep. Edmunds was all over the field Sunday night, just as he has been all year.