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Bills vs. Chargers: What to look for in Week 16

The Bills continue their playoff quest

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills (8-6) are hours away from their Week 16 kickoff against the Los Angeles Chargers (5-9). With each passing week, the one constant that remains is Buffalo’s need to continue winning. As such, the Bills will look to continue their late-season playoff push and extend their winning streak to three victories in a row.

Here’s what to look for during tonight's primetime matchup in Los Angeles, which begins at 8 p.m. EST — and will feature a commercial-free fourth quarter.

A Peacock Holiday Classic — How to watch

Tonight’s game is the first NFL game ever to be streamed exclusively on Peacock, which is NBC’s online streaming service. For the local markets in Buffalo and Los Angeles, Bills-Chargers will still be aired on local channels (WGRZ Buffalo).

Outside of local markets, you’ll need a subscription to Peacock, which you can sign up for here:

Once you’ve signed up for and created your Peacock account, follow these steps to tune in after opening the Peacock streaming app:

  • Select “Sports” tab
  • Under “Live and Upcoming,” click “Bills vs. Chargers”

As mentioned above, tonight’s fourth quarter will be commercial free — which will add an additional 12 minutes of game-related broadcasting.

A short week for Buffalo

The Bills had one day less to prepare than normal, while the Chargers had additional rest and preparation after playing on Thursday night in Week 15. The Chargers should benefit from the extra days to prepare, which was essential after firing their head coach the day after losing to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Big changes for Chargers

As we all know, the Chargers lost in embarrassing fashion to the Raiders, dropping a 63-21 result that wasn’t nearly as close as that score states. After firing Brandon Staley and Dean Spanos, the organization tapped defensive line coach Griff Smith to serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Don’t underestimate the energy bump teams often find from a coaching change. As a team already eliminated from playoff contention, the Chargers have nothing to lose. I’d expect LA to come out firing with a renewed purpose and play with more passion than they displayed in Week 15. The Bills need to be ready to match that energy — even on a short week and after a long trip out west.

Backup QB Easton Stick

The Chargers have one of the most-talented young quarterbacks in the NFL in Justin Herbert, but he’s injured and out for the remainder of the season. That means backup QB Easton Stick will get the start for the Chargers. Since being inserted into the lineup, Stick is 44-of-56 for 436 passing yards, with three touchdowns and one interception, while taking five sacks. Stick hasn’t used his legs much yet, but in college at North Dakota State he set a Missouri Valley Football Conference record for QBs of 2,523 rushing yards and 41 rushing touchdowns in college. I’d expect Stick to use his mobility more as he settles into the offense.

Buffalo Bills’ offense line heating up

Buffalo’s offensive line bullied their way to 266 total yards rushing in Week 15 against the Cowboys. The Bills have recently found their stride in the run game and it’s reasonable to expect they use their new threat as an option in the offensive tool belt. Getting out to an early lead versus the Chargers would go a long way toward setting the tone in the run game — and keep the time of possession in their favor. I wouldn’t expect Buffalo to run it 49 times like they did against Dallas, but I do expect them to continue their dominance at the line of scrimmage.

Passing game resurgence

The Bills didn’t really need to pass the football last weekend against the Cowboys. In fact, Josh Allen only threw 15 passes. Dallas couldn’t stop Buffalo’s run attack, and the weather wasn’t ideal enough to favor passing the football, so the Bills’ passing stats were predictably minimal. I’d expect a bit of a bounce-back this weekend. I’m sure if Buffalo had its choice, they’d jump out to a big lead early and ride their newfound running game to finish off the victory.

Weather will play no factor in tonight’s outcome — the Chargers play in a dome. Part of me feels like a first-half offensive explosion is set to unfold from Josh Allen and company in the passing game. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs hasn’t hit triple-digit receiving yards since Week 6 — but we all know that at some point a big day by Diggs is coming. Look for the Bills to roll out a balanced attack early while their success in the run game leads to big chunk plays in the passing game.