Game Preview: Green Bay Packers @ Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are coming off of what they hope will be their first of two bye weeks this season. While the second one (hopefully) won’t be until January, the team is looking to carry their positive momentum and performance into a Sunday Night Football matchup that looked much more competitive on paper in the summer. Let’s dive into a rare Buffalo Bills-Green Bay Packers matchup.
The Last Five
Packers 22 Bills 0 (2018)
Bills 21 Packers 13 (2014)
Packers 34 Bills 7 (2010)
Bills 24 Packers 10 (2006)
Packers 10 Bills 0 (2002)
These two teams have been alternating wins dating back to 1994. If this eight game pattern continues to hold true, the Bills should come out victorious in this one. What I found interesting when looking back at the two most recent games, is the importance of each game and how they measured up over time for this franchise. When the Kyle Orton-led Bills defeated the Green Bay Packers at home eight years ago, it was heralded as the franchise’s biggest win in over a decade. It put the Bills on the doorstep of ending their playoff drought. A loss to the Raiders the following week would eliminate the Bills. But, for one week, there was real belief that the team might have finally broken through.
Fast forward to 2018. Josh Allen starting his second career road game at Lambeau Field was just about as bad as it could get. After the game, I remember fans calling Allen a bust; they ridiculed him for his careless mistakes and were ready to throw in the towel after just three career starts. It looks like both overreactions to the Packers games missed the mark, didn’t they? The Buffalo Bills are now firmly Super Bowl favorites as they see the struggling Packers trot into town.
What To Watch For: Buffalo Bills
Too much history on their side? – Every year, it is documented how Sean McDermott has never lost coming out of the bye week. And every year the pressure grows. Couple this with the fact that Green Bay has never won a game in Orchard Park and you have yourself either a recipe for heartbreak or an excellent opportunity to keep the success rolling.
Allen vs. #1 Pass Defense – It is obvious that Buffalo’s best chance of winning football games includes Josh Allen shredding his opponent through the air. That might be harder this week as he will face the top rated pass defense in the league. In their seven games this year, Green Bay has allowed just 169 pass yards per game and six passing touchdowns.
While still giving credit to the Packers defense, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the quarterbacks they have lined up against: Kirk Cousins, Justin Fields, Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe, Zach Wilson, and Taylor Heinicke. None of the aforementioned quarterbacks are playing on the same level as MVP favorite Josh Allen. If anybody can make Green Bay’s secondary question themselves for the first time this season, it’s Josh Allen. Allen is averaging 323 passing yards per game and has thrown 17 touchdown passes so far in six games.
What To Watch For: Green Bay Packers
“Shoot, this might be the best thing for us.” – Ah yes, another motivational quote from Aaron Rodgers, the guy who once gave us “R-E-L-A-X”. It didn’t take him long after last week’s embarrassing 23-21 loss to Washington to use the “nobody believes in us” card to fire up his football team heading into Buffalo.
It’s a laughable notion; vilifying the media for not giving them a chance and then feeding into the narrative that the team will be hungrier because of recent losses. The truth is, if the Packers were a better football team, they wouldn’t have squeaked by the Patriots in OT and then lost to the Jets and Commanders in back-to-back weeks. On paper, the Packers are going to struggle mightily against the Bills. If they do win, it will likely be because the Bills had a bad night rather than the Packers magically turning into who they were the last few years while channeling motivation from the media stating what they see week after week.
Force Turnovers – One of the only ways to remain competitive and upset the league’s top teams is by forcing turnovers and gaining extra possessions. The Packers have done an awful job this season with takeaways. They are currently ranked 29th in the league with just five takeaways in seven games. To compare, the Bills have forced eight more turnovers (for a total of 13) in one less game played. If the Packers want to compete in this one, they will have to force Josh Allen and the Bills offense to make mistakes, much like their last head-to-head matchup. Allen threw 2 interceptions in that game, one that many can agree is his worst game as a professional quarterback. If they don’t force a turnover and take away scoring chances from the Bills offense, the Packers are going to struggle to keep pace.
Bills 30 Packers 20 I see this being a closer game than many think. I don’t believe that Rodgers can motivate his team to victory based on quotes alone. But I do think that not wanting to be embarrassed on national television could lead to a more inspired performance from. If Green Bay does pull it out, it will be because of Buffalo’s miscues rather than what they are doing. However, given how the Bills are performing this year, I have a hard time believing they will come out flat this week. I think Josh Allen will continue to have success through the air despite facing a strong secondary. Meanwhile, I don’t see the Packers doing much against the Buffalo Bills, especially with their top WR Allen Lazard expected to miss the game.
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