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Buffalo Bills Players to Watch: Week 15 vs. Carolina Panthers

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This is a must win game for the Buffalo Bills. After a tough comeback loss to the Buccaneers in overtime last week, the Bills will host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. This should be the game where the Bills get back to their winning ways. The Panthers are expected to start Cam Newton and/or P.J. Walker this week, which means the Bills will need a big week out of the defensive ends.

Defensive Ends

Newton likes to create plays with his legs. With that in mind, the Bills defensive ends will be on QB contain this weekend. A QB contain is when, instead of ends pass rushing up field, they instead make sure that Newton is unable to escape the pocket. This will be a key to the game and will likely be done on almost every passing play the Panthers run this week. Expect to see a lot of Greg Rousseau on the edge, using his athleticism to keep Cam inside the pocket. I expect to see big games out of Rousseau and A.J. Espenesa, both of whom have great speed and are versatile on the edge. They both will get a large number of snaps this week and will prove to be productive. They will have at least two and a half sacks combined and seven pressures.

In the run game, the ends are going to have the responsibility of watching the QB on option plays. The Panthers run a lot of option plays because of Newton’s athleticism. Even if it looks like he’s going to hand it off, the ends need to be aware that he can keep it at any time. They will always be responsible for Newton in case he takes off.

Linebackers

To go along with the QB contain, the Bills linebackers will need to be in a QB spy. I expect to see Edmunds in this assignment. Matt Milano is better in coverage, and I hope to see him blitzing more this week. As a result, Edmunds will be responsible for this. Edmunds does play well sideline to sideline and has good speed. He should be able to keep up with Newton and not let him beat us with his legs.

Josh Allen

Last week, Josh Allen has proved that he is worth every penny the Bills spent on him. The only issue is that he has a foot sprain. While I wouldn’t say I’m worried, I would say that this is something we need to watch this week. Last week, Allen ran for over 100 yards and, with a struggling run game, this is a key for the Buffalo Bills going forward. They will need Allen to be effective on the ground to open the rest of the run game up. If teams respect Allen more on the ground, then the running backs should be able to feed off of it and get themselves going.

Running Backs

Even though everyone says that the Buffalo Bills need to abandon the run, that isn’t the case. If you stop running the ball completely, then teams can just rush the passer and Allen will have no time to throw the ball. Look at the first half last week when the Bills didn’t run the ball, the Bucs blitzed constantly because their pass rushers didn’t respect the run. They were able to tee off on Allen.

This is exactly what teams will do going forward if the Bills don’t start running the ball effectively. Devin Singletary has been good this year when he gets the touches. He is currently eighth in the NFL in yards per carry and ranks in top-six in yards after contact. The Bills need to establish some kind of run game this week, they need to get Singletary 12-15 carries and make teams respect the run. Not only will this help the Bills in the long run, but it will help take some of the load off Allen.

If the Bills get some sort of run game going and are able to contain Newton, they should win this game.

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