The Buffalo Bills will host the Las Vegas Raiders in the team’s 2023 home opener. The Raiders come into this matchup 1-0 after a 17-16 victory over the Denver Broncos. The Bills will look to get their first notch in the win column after their ugly Week 1 loss in overtime to the New York Jets. Here are some things to put on your radar for this Week 2 AFC showdown between the Bills and Raiders.
Getting Josh Allen back on track
It’s no secret, that Josh Allen didn’t play well in Week 1, and I expect that the Bills try to get their superstar QB back on track after his four-turnover performance on Monday Night Football. Who knows what the Bills’ game plan will be, but if it was me I would come out and let Allen sling the rock. This shouldn’t come by a litany of deep balls, but rather a series of quick completions that Allen can deliver on time and in rhythm.
I don’t think trying to “shield” Josh Allen from making bad plays will make his decision making any better. The better decision making has to come from Allen himself. Have a script of plays Allen is the most comfortable with to start the game and let him make confident throws. If Allen starts out the game with a series of solid completions, watch out — a massive “revenge” game could be coming.
If the script doesn’t quite go as planned, it will be interesting to see how Ken Dorsey calls the offense. I don’t think limiting Allen will ever be the answer, shooters have to shoot. Once Allen sees the ball go through the proverbial hoop a few times, I would expect him to look his normal self again.
More 12 personnel
The Bills ran 43 plays in 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TEs) versus the Jets, which was the most of any team in the NFL in Week 1. I’d expect more of the same in Week 2. Buffalo’s rookie tight end, Dalton Kincaid, caught all four of his targets for 26 yards in Week 1. The Bills need more options outside of Stefon Diggs, and Kincaid was drafted to be just that. Kincaid and Allen just need some more time to marinate and grow their connection. Twelve personnel give the Bills another package to switch things up and take advantage of any mismatches they might identify. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Kincaid put his first career TD this week.
The Bills injury report remains clean and clear for Week 2.
The Raiders however have some key players pop up on their injury report.
- Chandler Jones, DE - OUT, personal reasons
- Jakobi Meyers, WR - OUT, concussion (Meyers had 9 receptions for 81 yards and 2 TDs in Week 1)
- Davante Adams (foot), DeAndre Carter (knee), Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle), Jordan Meredith (calf), Tre’von Moehrig (thumb), and Jermaine Eluemunor (ankle) all showed up on the injury report throughout the week but are all expected to play.
Maxx Crosby is one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL and will be looking to feast on Bills right tackle Spencer Brown. Crosby logged five total tackles and one sack in Week 1. I’d expect most of the Bills’ offensive game plan to be tailored around how to slow down Crosby. Look for lots of help for Spencer Brown in the form of chip blocks from a TE or RB, double teams, and even rollouts opposite Crosby. It’s almost impossible to take Crosby completely out of the game, but sometimes the best way to go at a good edge rusher is to keep him on his toes. Sending some runs, draw plays, and screens his way might be able to keep him guessing. If Crosby is consistently getting pressure on Josh Allen, it could mean a long day for the Bills offense. I’m interested to see what Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey has planned to neutralize Maxx Crosby.
Josh Jacobs & rushing attack
The Buffalo Bills gave up 172 rushing yards in Week 1 versus the Jets. For a full analysis of Buffalo’s run defense check out my latest article. Stopping the run will be key for the Bills this week as they take on last season's rushing yards leader, Josh Jacobs. In Week 1 versus the Broncos, Jacobs only logged 48 yards rushing on 19 carries. I suspect that the Raiders will pound the rock to test Buffalo’s defense this week. This does two things for the Raiders, it’s a way to get the ball into one of the best players' hands, but it also allows them to control the clock to keep the ball away from Buffalo’s offense. If the Raiders win this game, I think it will be because they ran the ball well and won time of possession. Buffalo will need to stop the run early and often to get the Raiders away from it.
Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams is one of the best in the league, everyone in Buffalo’s secondary should know where he’s lined up at all times. The big question going into this game is if Tre’Davious White will shadow Adams. For reference, according to Player Profiler, White had 64% shadow rate on Garrett Wilson last week. I expect to see a similar rate, about two-thirds of the time — meaning White will shadow Adams this week.