The Buffalo Bills (5-4) take on the Denver Broncos (3-5) in a showdown for Monday Night Football in Week 10. The Bills haven’t won consecutive games in a row since they won three in a row in Weeks 2-4. Buffalo’s licking its wounds from injuries and is a team finding itself in an unfriendly position within the playoff race. The Broncos seem to be on the upswing after winning back-to-back games over the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Before tonight’s kickoff reels us in, here’s what to look for in Buffalo’s third primetime matchup in as many weeks.
A fresh Broncos squad
The Denver Broncos are coming off of their bye week and have essentially had a whopping 14 days to prepare for the Bills. The Broncos enter tonight’s game fully healthy. They only had two players on their injured report in the lead up to Week 10, and they both practiced in full all week.
A depleted Bills squad
The Bills have already ruled out two starters on defense in safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Christian Benford. Buffalo’s injury report doesn’t include starters Matt Milano, DaQuan Jones, and Tre’Davious White who are all likely out for the season. Starting linebacker Terrel Bernard is listed as questionable with a concussion.
First real look at CB Rasul Douglas
The Bills acquired cornerback Rasul Douglas at the trade deadline from the Green Bay Packers. Week 9 against the Bengals was Douglas’ first game in a Bills uniform, but he didn’t have much time to get up to speed. Even with a short ramp-up period, Douglas logged 42 snaps (60%), mostly because they needed him after injuries forced their hand. I would expect Douglas to have a full workload this game after he had a week of preparation, and with the Bills down yet another corner in Benford. Douglas is known for his high football IQ and the defense will welcome his skills with open arms. Douglas’ presence in the secondary will give the Bills some much-needed juice.
Broncos CB Patrick Surtain II
The best player on the Broncos’ roster is arguably their second-year cornerback, Patrick Surtain. The Bills will do their best to avoid allowing Surtain to spoil their game plan. Part of that plan will likely be to get Stefon Diggs away from Surtain. Denver’s CB1 only shadows 43.7% of the time, so it shouldn’t be too hard for the Bills to get the matchup they want with Diggs. That may be especially true if they utilize Diggs in the slot, because Surtain doesn’t typically move into the slot position.
Buffalo’s offense needs to start hot
Since Week 5, Buffalo’s offense has started slow. In the last five games, the Bills averaged 6.8 points in the first half, which is ranked 28th in the NFL. Seemingly stuck in the mud early on offense gets the team in a hole from the start, and has them playing catch-up the rest of the game. However, the Bills rank third in average points in the second half (13.4) since Week 5. Executing early and getting themselves into a rhythm allows Buffalo’s offense to stay on schedule and dictate the flow of the game. Look for the offense to make its first-quarter drives a point of emphasis.
Kincaid to the Moon
Rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid has turned on the jets since tight end Dawson Knox went on Injured Reserve due to a wrist injury in Week 7. Since then, Kincaid has tallied an impressive 23 receptions for 221 yards. The Denver Broncos have allowed the most receiving yards in the NFL this season, giving up an average of 6.25 receptions and 71.1 yards per game to opposing tight ends. Kincaid has emerged as a legitimate No. 2 receiving option behind Stefon Diggs, and I expect him to have a big game tonight.