The Buffalo Bills and the Washington Commanders are set to face off in what should be a rain-soaked affair on Sunday. For the Bills, continued success in the run game after last week’s 183-yard performance would be nice, especially if the weather prevents their typically high-powered passing attack from taking flight.
Grounding Washington’s rushing attack, currently ranked No. 17 in the league, is also going to play a big part in the outcome of the game. The Commanders have a stable of young, talented backs, but they’re only averaging 3.8 yards per rush so far. While young quarterback Sam Howell is certainly talented, Buffalo’s best bet is definitely to put the game on his shoulders, making Washington one-dimensional in the rain.
Here are five Commanders to watch this weekend against the Bills.
RB Brian Robinson Jr.
While Washington has three talented backs, including rookie Chris Rodriguez and fourth-year man Antonio Gibson, it’s Robinson who sees the lion’s share of the work. He leads the way for the Commanders this year with 37 carries for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Robinson is big (6’1” and 225 pounds), but he isn’t necessarily quick. Buffalo’s defensive speed is going to come in handy here, and if they can play downhill and swarm the ball, that will help to keep Washington’s ground game from finding solid footing. Robinson doesn’t offer much as a receiver — he’s caught just 12 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns in 14 career games — but keying in on him as a runner and bottling him up will keep Washington in 2nd & Long situations. That’s a good thing for the Bills.
WR Terry McLaurin
With a wet ball and a wet field, short passes to speedy receivers who can turn those plays into long gains becomes the most effective, efficient passing option. McLaurin is great after the catch, as right around a third of his receiving yards over the last three years have come after the catch. Screens of all varieties have been effective against Buffalo’s defense so far this year, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some early bubble-screens McLaurin’s way to ensure that Howell can establish some rhythm. If he can hit his man quickly, then McLaurin can turn a two-yard pass into a 20-yard gain in the blink of an eye if the Bills aren’t careful.
DE Montez Sweat
While his teammate sees much of the press clippings, Sweat has been a dominant force so far this season. He has three sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles already this season. Whether it’s Dion Dawkins or Spencer Brown lined up across from him, Buffalo’s offensive linemen will have their hands full this weekend. Add in some excellent defensive tackles in Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, and you have a scary defensive front.
DE Chase Young
The former No. 2 overall pick was dominant as a rookie, notching 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, four pass knockdowns, and a defensive touchdown on his way to the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2020. Since then, Young has only managed to play in 13 games as a litany of injuries have kept him from coming close to reaching his potential. Last week, he made his season debut, however, and he was magnificent. Young had 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, and a tackle for loss in Washington’s wild 35-33 win over the Denver Broncos. He’s a problem if he’s healthy, and he sure looked healthy last week. Buffalo needs to know where Young is at all times.
CB Kendall Fuller
I don’t know that the Commanders have the corners to handle Buffalo’s receivers, but two of the younger corners — third-year pro Benjamin St. Juste and rookie Emmanuel Forbes — have performed admirably so far this year. The weakness has been the veteran Fuller, who has allowed 21 touchdown passes in coverage in what is now his sixth professional season. Buffalo moved wide receiver Stefon Diggs all around last week to create favorable matchups. If they can isolate him against Fuller, that’s easy money for the Bills. Even if it isn’t Diggs, I could see someone like tight end Dalton Kincaid or wide receiver Gabe Davis using their size to bully the smaller Fuller for contested grabs. Even if the weather is poor, Buffalo has a matchup advantage here no matter how you slice it.