The Buffalo Bills survived a Sunday Night Football nail-biter against the New York Giants in front of Bills Mafia. After the Giants went up 6-0 at halftime, Buffalo’s offense scored a touchdown to take a 7-6 lead. The Giants responded with a field goal to go up 9-7, but the Bills’ offense was able to score another touchdown to go up by five. The defense stopped the Giants on the goal line with zero seconds left to hang on and win 14-9.
So who, and what, stood out in Week 6? This series is our take on the stock/arrow up/down idea. Remember, “Bleu Cheese” is the preferred choice here, while “Ranch” plays the down role.
EDGE A.J. Epenesa
Edge rusher A.J. Epenesa is playing the best football of his career right now, with four sacks in his last four games. He was the highest-graded defender for the Bills at 89.6, per Pro Football Focus (PFF).
Epenesa finished Sunday’s game with one sack, but only played 21 snaps on defense, which is a bit odd with the way he’s played. Either way, he’s been an above-average depth piece for Buffalo’s defensive line — and he’s looking for a new contract after this season.
Rookie linebacker Dorian Williams was on the field 84% of the time (65 snaps). With the injury to star linebacker Matt Milano, Williams earned his first start and extended opportunity to show what he can do on defense.
Williams ended the game with 10 total tackles and one QB hit. His defensive PFF grade was a 65.4, with his tackling grade at a 32.0, which is well below average. However, Williams had a 73.4 run-defense grade, and 57.4 coverage grade — which are both above average.
Because Williams is a young player and learning on the job, the expectation is that he only continues to improve as the season moves forward.
Although Buffalo’s offense struggled for most of the game, the second half wasn’t as bad as the eye test tells. On three drives in the second half, the Bills went: touchdown, touchdown, missed field goal.
During their two touchdown drives, the offense ran 29 plays for 164 yards, and took over 16 minutes off the clock. That’s something the offense can build on moving forward.
Running game’s arrival
In Week 6, the run game helped the Bills establish a rhythm on offense, which offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey alluded to during his press conference Monday.
Running back James Cook ran the ball 14 times for 71 yards, while running back Latavius Murray carried the ball 12 times for 45 yards. That’s 100+ yards combined from two backs. Running back Damien Harris left the game with a scary neck injury, but head coach Sean McDermott says that Harris is in concussion protocol and dealing with a neck sprain.
Finding ways to win
The Bills were able to steal a win Sunday night, even if it wasn’t pretty. That’s what good teams do, and the Bills qualify here. A record of 4-2 is better than 3-3, and everything that the Bills plan to accomplish is still in front of them.
Another 100-yard performance for wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who also finished the game with 10 receptions. He is always in this category at this point.
Bills’ first-half offense
Whether it was play calling, execution, turnovers, or penalties, Buffalo’s offense put up zero points against the Giants’ defense — a unit that ranks 28th in the NFL in points allowed at 27.8, and 27th in yards allowed at 364.5.
The inconsistency on offense has been apparent early this season. The Bills have scored under the 21-point threshold three times, and scored over the 35-point threshold three times. Ken Dorsey has to figure out how to field a consistent offense and find a rhythm to complement a defense that’s played lights out.
CB Kaiir Elam
Kaiir Elam struggled in London last week, and although things weren’t as bad against the Giants, he still struggled.
Elam allowed four catches for 42 yards and a 101.7 passer rating against versus the Giants. With the injury to cornerback Dane Jackson, Elam got the start by default. Once Jackson can get back on the field, it will probably be Benford and Jackson with Elam coming off the bench.
TE Dawson Knox
Another game, another key drop for tight end Dawson Knox. In truth, Knox is playing through an injured wrist and isn’t 100%. The throw from Allen on third down where Knox dropped it could have been better, but it’s still a play the team should expect Knox to make.
Knox has struggled all season, as he has yet to surpass 100 yards total in six games. Buffalo’s offense needs to find more production out their top tight end moving forward.
Dorsey needs to find a way to get more people involved. Getting the ball to Diggs often is a good thing, but he and Allen need to find other ways to get additional players involved.
Failing that, the offense will have to rely on Allen and Diggs down the stretch. They of course can get it done, but it would benefit everyone if other guys could step up.
K Tyler Bass
Tyler Bass had been automatic coming into Week 6, having made every field goal and extra point on the season. On Sunday, Bass missed his first two field goals of the season, both from 50+ yards.
There’s no reason to be concerned about Bass moving forward, but his struggles were real in the win over the Giants.