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Who we didn’t see in Preseason Week 3: Buffalo Bills at Carolina Panthers

Not much point for the final week of preseason? Let’s put a different spin on it

For Preseason Week 3 this exercise might seem futile. By the time you read this, the personnel decisions for the 53 players who will make up the initial Buffalo Bills roster for the 2022 season may already be set. Maybe we can find something fun with this though. In fact, I’m betting we can.

The last two weeks we took some educated guesses on what the lists of who played versus who didn’t might mean for the final roster. As noted above, the roster might be set before you even see this. Even if that isn’t the case, it’s pretty obvious the Bills attempted to rest a lot of starters to get ready for the regular season, and a few roster battles truly looked up for grabs. With the roster stress mostly out of the way, let’s try something fun.

Here’s a screen grab from the official game book, compiled by the NFL. It shows the roster breakdowns for both teams including starters, substitutions (played but didn’t start), and the no-explanation-necessary group of “did not play.”

The difference is striking in how the two teams approached the third game. A lot of the differences were reflected in the scoreboard. Buffalo sent 44 players out onto the field, which is pretty close to a regular-season number. The Carolina Panthers played a lot more of their roster. A lot more.

What’s also striking and was readily noticed right from the start of the game was that Carolina played their starters. Add up this fact and a fresher rotation among the depth guys and it’s no wonder Buffalo got beat up.

The two lineups reveal drastically different approaches to the final week of preseason, which raises the question: Which is more common?

You can take a peek at all the game books for yourself if you’d like, but a quick scan from yours truly suggests one thing. Don’t bother. It’s all over the map. Here’s another fun screen grab.

You might have been thinking that the Buffalo and Carolina thing was a case of contender vs. pretender. Here we have two contenders in the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, and the same split appears. There’s very little rhyme or reason to these and a quick glance strongly suggests it all comes down to coaching preferences.

Will the Bills and their plan lead to a more successful season? Or is the Chiefs’ and Panthers’ approach the better one? Only time will tell, but either way the Buffalo Bills aren’t alone in their approach.