When the Buffalo Bills and the Minnesota Vikings face off this weekend, it will be a marquee matchup for the NFL. A six-win AFC team hosting a seven-win NFC team is a big deal in November, and when you add the intrigue that surrounds the teams thanks to one of the most even trades in recent memory, there are plenty of storylines to follow.
The most important storyline, though, involves the right elbow of quarterback Josh Allen. Will the injury he suffered keep him out of the game this weekend? Or will he prove that he actually is a cyborg by pushing through it to lead his squad to victory?
Ready or not, here are our five Bills to watch this weekend.
QB Josh Allen or QB Case Keenum
Will Allen be able to go? If he does, how effective will he be throwing the football? Will offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey switch it up by calling for a shorter, quicker passing game? What happens if backup Case Keenum plays? Does the offense flounder given the obvious dropoff from Allen to Keenum? Will Keenum go off on his former team in a Sunday afternoon revenge game? There are so many questions surrounding the quarterback position for the Bills that it obviously bears watching. In either case, the man throwing the ball for Buffalo is going to be under a microscope this weekend.
RB Devin Singletary
If the quarterback position is in flux, the running game becomes that much more important this weekend. Whether Allen plays or not, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the most carries by running backs that Buffalo has had all year in this week’s game, and I expect that Singletary will continue to lead the way. Buffalo’s speed backs, rookie James Cook and the newly-acquired Nyheim Hines, should probably see some increased run, as well. Look for a few screen passes to keep the Vikings’ pass rush off balance. While Cook and Hines are the guys most people think of in the passing game out of the backfield, Singletary is on pace for career-high totals in catches and receiving yards this year. If his current track holds, he’ll catch 57 passes for 440 yards. Minnesota is tenth in the league in rushing yards allowed, but Buffalo is going to need to move the ball on the ground to take some heat off the quarterback.
WR Stefon Diggs
Whether it’s Allen or Keenum throwing the ball, everyone knows that they’ll be looking for Diggs in his first game against his old mates. Diggs was traded to the Bills prior to the 2020 season, bringing with him a reputation as a diva from his time in Minneapolis. That reputation has proven to be false, as he’s been nothing short of incredible since arriving in Orchard Park. In his five years with the Vikings, Diggs averaged 73 catches for 925 yards and six touchdowns per year. Since coming to Buffalo, even if you include this half-season, his averages are up to 97 catches for 1,206 yards and eight touchdowns per year. This season, Diggs is on pace for 128 catches, 1,821 receiving yards, and 15 receiving touchdowns. He’s going to want to have a big day against the team that drafted him and traded him, and I expect that the Bills will look to do something similar to last week, where they targeted Diggs on a big play on the game’s first pass.
DE Boogie Basham
It looks like Greg Rousseau isn’t going to play thanks to an ankle sprain he suffered in last week’s loss to the New York Jets. That means that either Shaq Lawson or A.J. Epenesa is in line to start across from edge rusher Von Miller, but it also means that Basham’s snap share is likely to increase. After playing around 40% of the team’s snaps in the first two weeks, Basham hasn’t played much, eclipsing the 30% mark in just two games since. I think it will be Epenesa who picks up the starting nod, and I also think that Basham will notch his first sack since opening night while playing on right around 35% of the snaps.
[Insert CB Here]
Similar to the quarterback position, there are some injury questions to answer at cornerback. Will rookie Kaiir Elam play through his ankle injury? He practiced in a limited fashion on Wednesday before logging a DNP on Thursday, so he’s trending in the wrong direction. Is this the week where we see Tre’Davious White return to action? It sure would be a good time for him, as the opponent boasts one of the league’s best wideouts in Justin Jefferson. How will Dane Jackson fare? He had a stinger last week, which is of larger concern than it would normally be thanks to the scary neck injury he suffered in Week 2. Is Christian Benford ready for the challenge that Jefferson will present? Can the Bills keep enough corners healthy so that Siran Neal can stay on special teams where he belongs? There are some definite causes for concern here.