When the Bills run
The loss to the Jets gave us a pretty good feel for how the Bills would like to use their running backs. As expected, James Cook got most of the work, handling 16 of the 22 touches that went to running backs. That included four catches, which was a nice boost for fantasy owners. Cook averaged just 3.8 yards per carry against the Jets despite not facing a single eight-man box, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Inside the 10-yard line, the Bills went to Damien Harris. During the two-minute drill at the end of regulation, the Bills turned to Latavius Murray, which could be a sign they trust him most in pass protection. EDGE: Bills.
The Buffalo Bills know not to be deceived by the numbers that Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs put up in Week 1. Jacobs had just 48 yards on 19 carries.
When the Bills throw
Josh Allen played one of the worst games of his career in Week 1. It’s increasingly clear the Jets’ defense gives Allen all sorts of problems. The good news for the Bills and Allen is this Raiders defense is no match for that of the Jets. Las Vegas managed to get pressure on just 10.8% of Denver’s dropbacks in Week 1, according to FTN Fantasy. If the Bills can protect Allen, he should have a big day. As expected, rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid played a big role in Week 1, playing 80% of the snaps. Kincaid lined up in the slot 23 times, outside 13 times and on the line just three times. No. 1 receiver Stefon Diggs lined up in the slot nearly as many times as he did out wide against the Jets, 22 to 24, although that might have been an effort to move him away from Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner. The plan worked, as Diggs caught 10 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. EDGE: Bills.
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When the Raiders run
Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs, the NFL’s reigning rushing champion, is a good bet to get the ball if he’s in the game. On 40% of his snaps in Week 1, Jacobs either carried the ball or was the target of a pass from new Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The Bills’ run defense struggled in Week 1, giving up 127 yards on just 10 carries to the Jets’ Breece Hall. If it feels like the run defense has a tendency to give up big runs … that’s because it does. According to FTN Fantasy, the Bills gave up runs of 10-plus yards on 13.9% of the carries against them, which ranked as the fourth-highest rate in the league. EDGE: Raiders.
When the Raiders throw
The Raiders will defer to Jacobs to lead the offense, but Garoppolo was solid in Week 1, going 20 of 26 for 200 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Put another way: He’s better than Zach Wilson, to whom the Bills just lost. Garoppolo also wasn’t sacked in his Las Vegas debut. The Bills got great pressure in Week 1 – a rate of 42.3%, according to FTN Fantasy, which ranked third in the NFL. However, Garoppolo can be expected to try and get the ball out of his hands quickly to negate that rush. Las Vegas’ Davante Adams is one of the best receivers in the NFL. The Bills used Tre’Davious White a lot on Jets No. 1 receiver Garrett Wilson in Week 1, so it reasonably can be expected White will see a lot of Adams. EDGE: Bills.
Not surprisingly, the Bills rank 31st in the NFL in special teams DVOA, which will happen following an allowed touchdown on an overtime punt return – only the third time in NFL history that’s happened. That ruined what had been a good night for the special teams. Keep in mind the Bills didn’t bring back running back Taiwan Jones this season. He was solid in his job as a gunner on special teams. EDGE: Raiders.