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Pregame Rumblings: Bills vs. Vikings preview

The Bills are 6.5-point favorites again on the heels of news that Josh Allen is likely to start

Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

NFL Week 10 is here, and the Buffalo Bills are back at home as they host the 7-1 Minnesota Vikings on a cold, wet Sunday afternoon. The Bills opened at 7.5-point favorites, but have had questions at the quarterback position coming into this game, as Josh Allen has dealt with an elbow injury. The spread now sits at 6.5 this morning after being at 3.5 for most of the week, and while there is still uncertainty about if Allen will play or not, the line moving would indicate that there is belief that Allen will be under center.

The Vikings are coming off another game to add to their win streak where they won by less than eight points. Winning close has been the name of the game for the Vikings this season, and they will look to do the same today in Orchard Park, NY against the Bills, who will be without some of their key players on defense.

Here are my thoughts and things to look for during this game:

  1. Allen or Case Keenum? Who will lead the Bills today offensively? All week the national media, local media, and the fan base has been trying to figure out the extent of Allen’s injury and whether or not he will play. Bills head coach McDermott has created a new timetable for Allen, as he said he was listed as “hour to hour” in a way to deflect more questions from his superstar quarterback. Personally, I think this is the reason the Bills signed Case Keenum to back up Allen. Keenum is not a horrible quarterback by any means, as he’s posted 78 touchdowns to 48 interceptions for his career with an 85.2 passer rating. He is more than capable to fill in for a game or two while Allen recovers to full strength. In the event Allen does play, I don’t see the team allowing him to be the player we’re used to seeing this year. He’s averaged 37 passing attempts in eight games this season—and that includes him sitting two full quarters, as he was able to rest in the fourth quarters of the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers games. The team will have to protect him from himself. I anticipate seeing Keenum start at QB. We’ll see what the team decides, as Allen is a game-time decision.
  2. Red zone performance will be important to both teams in this matchup. The Vikings rank near the bottom of the league in red zone defense, and the Bills rank near the bottom in red zone offense. One will have to improve today. Will the Bills figure out how to punch the ball into the end zone, or will the Vikings improve their numbers against a team that hasn’t been effective inside the 20? Whether Allen plays or not, the Bills have to be more creative in getting their playmakers the ball when they’re close to scoring. Depending so much on Allen can be a gift and a curse. This season, defenses have figured out how to key in on Allen and slow the offensive firepower down when they’re close to the goal line. I’m paying close attention to how offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey reacts for the second half of the season. Will he figure out ways to improve? The red zone inefficiency is costing the Bills games. Last week against the Jets is one in particular situation where we can point to two possessions in the red zone, one resulting in a turnover, that probably cost the Bills a victory.
  3. Which running game will be better? The Bills had looked great defensively this season stopping the run until the second half of the Green Bay Packers game. Running back Aaron Jones had his way, and last week the Jets running backs controlled the clock and picked up first down after first down as the Bills just weren’t able to stop the run and get the ball back for the offense. Running back Dalvin Cook is a phenomenal player, and has probably kept defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier up all week game planning ways to slow him down. But the Bills will have to depend on their run game as well to win in Week 10. Running back Devin Singletary has been impressive when given the ball enough to get in a rhythm, and rookie running back James Cook is elusive as well when given the opportunities. With Allen being in question, I’m looking for the run game to be more involved and allow the Bills to control the time of possession. I’d fully expect to see recently signed running back Nyheim Hines more involved, as well, as he was now able to get a full week of practice in with his new team.

This game is going to be close. I don’t expect a blowout on either side. The Bills’ defense is too good to allow Cousins to dominate them, regardless if he is throwing to wide receiver Justin Jefferson or not. Even with the injuries in the secondary, the defensive line has gotten to the quarterback all year long, and I don’t expect that to change. But with questions surrounding Allen, I don’t see the Bills winning in a blowout, either. Whichever team can run the ball and win the time of possession takes this game. I’m going with the Bills to cover the spread and win at home.

DraftKings ‘Circle the Wagons’ SGP

  • Dawson Knox Anytime Touchdown
  • Devin Singletary Anytime Touchdown