It’s Week 9 of the regular season, and the 1-7 Washington Redskins will be facing off against the 5-2 Buffalo Bills in Buffalo this Sunday.
The Bills started off hot with a 3-0 record, but haven’t looked like quite the same team since their week 6 bye. The Bills won a very close game against the Dolphins in week 7, trailing the Phins at halftime and coming back to win late in the 4th quarter. The Bills then got blown out by an injury-ravaged Eagles team week 8 that used creative jet sweeps and fakes to run all over them. The Bills will be looking to this game as a “get right” game to return to their early season form. The Bills secondary is one of the best in the NFL and they have good pass rush, but their run defense has proven a bit of a weak link this season. On offense, they have been good at running the ball up the gut, but their passing game and blocking on sweeps has looked inconsistent. In a lot of ways, the Redskins strengths and weaknesses line up favorably with those of the Bills, so this could be a closer game than Vegas is predicting.
I asked Corey Giacovelli of Buffalo Rumblings five questions to better understand the state of the Bills and what to look for in this game.
1. This late into the season, injuries always seem to be a factor. What important injuries have the Bills had, and how will that change the way they play on Sunday?
Fortunately for the Bills they are looking to be in good shape on the injury front. Matt Millano is still handling a hamstring injury but he was able to play next week so I don’t see why he would not be a go this week. Guard Cody Ford is nursing a shoulder injury and was wearing a brace but was practicing, so it is uncertain what his status will be for the game. Sometimes though, a healthy roster can prove difficult, especially at receiver because it is putting the team in a tough position as to who to play and who to make inactive for the games.
2. The Bills recently decided to rebuild with a new GM in Brandon Beane. What kind of job has he done so far, and what did Bills fans think of his early moves to trade away so many expensive veterans given that the Bills made the playoffs in the first year of the rebuild (2017)?
Fans are really happy with the performance Beane has done because he has been following through with that he promised. He stayed true to his word that he wanted to build the team through the draft and that is what he has done so far, with picks like Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds leading the way on both sides of the ball. This was also true at the trade deadline Tuesday where he chose to hold on to some valuable picks instead of making those splash trades for a guy that could end up being a one year rental. In free agency this past season, Beane knew the Bills had to rebuild the offense and he attacked that with left tackle Dion Dawkins being the only starter from week 1 last season that is still on the team which is remarkable. We were panicking at first when he traded Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby on the same day early in his tenure but those deals seemed to work out just fine.
3. Likewise, what do Bills fans think of head coach Sean McDermott so far in his tenure? What are his strengths as a head coach, and where would you like to see him improve?
Coach McDermott knows how to get guys to believe in each other. He has completely rebuilt the culture of the team and the guys love the fight that he brings to the table. Being a defensive coach we knew coming in that he was going to try and build his defense after the Carolina team that made it to the Super Bowl when he was defensive coordinator, and he has done that. He is a smart guy that knows the game of football. What we would like him to improve on is his game management. There have been times in the game where choices he makes can be questioned such as taking a knee before the end of the half when he has timeouts in his pocket. However, there have been times this season that he has shown that he can be aggressive, we would just like to see it more consistently.
4. It seems like being a Bills fan hasn’t been easy for much of recent history. Yet despite this, the Bills have consistently had one of the NFL’s more passionate fan bases and Bills Mafia is well known despite being in a small market. How do Bills fans stay so passionate every year and what sets the fanbase apart from others?
We stick by the team no matter what the cost because they are like a second family to us. Yes, we may criticize them Monday through Saturday for their recent performances or the way the team is functioning but when Sunday morning comes, you can bet your you know what that we will be tailgating hard and ready to fill those stands to make some noise. One thing that sets us apart is the love that we have for each other and the lengths we are willing to go to show love. Whether it be donating all that money to Andy Dalton’s foundation when he gifted us that playoff appearance or donating when beloved fan Pancho Billa passed away, we are here to support each other no matter the cost.
5. If you were head coach of the Redskins, how would you gameplan for this matchup and what would you do to exploit weaknesses on the Bills?
I would follow what the Eagles did to us last week because that is as bad as the defense looked all season. Philadelphia did a great job using misdirection on screen passes to get the team out of position for big chunk plays fans haven’t seen the defense give up. Then in the second half, they were able to ground and pound with ease showing that the Bills run defense can be attacked and taken advantage of. With a guy like Adrian Peterson in the backfield, I would be giving him a lot of touches early to see if Buffalo can stop him. We (Buffalo Rumblings) have noticed the success the Redskins have had on Jet Sweeps this season and fear that using those could make way for some big plays against the Bills.
Thanks again to Corey Giacovelli for taking time out of his day to answer our questions about the Bills.
As of right now, Vegas has the Bills as 10 point favorites over the Redskins. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Bills win by more than 10 points
Bills win by 10 points or less
Redskins win outright
As of now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 36.5 points. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
37 points or more are scored (both sides combined)
36 points or fewer are scored (both sides combined)