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What to watch for in Week 9

Posted Nov 4, 2017

Yes, your beloved Buffalo Bills aren’t playing this weekend, but there are still plenty of meaningful AFC games to be played. As we enter the second half of the season the playoff picture is heating up. Here are the top-five things for Bills fans to keep on their radar during the mini bye.


1 - Raiders at Dolphins - Sunday 8:30 pm
Take two for the Oakland Raiders on their cross-country trip. After being routed by the Bills last Sunday the Raiders will try to rebound in Miami. The Dolphins are looking for some redemption themselves, as they got rolled 40-0 against the Ravens on primetime.

Miami’s the only AFC East team to take the field for the remainder of Week Nine. The Bills and Jets played on Thursday night and the Patriots are on their bye week.

It appears that Dolphins quarterback, Jay Cutler, has a good chance to return to action to the lineup. He was a full participant in practice on Friday, but was listed as questionable on the team’s injury report.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Miami’s backfield fares moving forward. Before Tuesday’s trade deadline the team shipped off running back Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia for a 2018 fourth-round pick. Ajayi had over 80-percent of the team’s carries this season. He had 138 rushes for 465 yards through seven games. Miami’s next closest rusher in yards is Damien Williams with only 32. Williams and Kenyon Drake will be the two backs working out of the backfield.

With a win, the Dolphins will improve to 5-3 on the season. In that case, they’d share second place in the division with the Bills. Buffalo and Miami will square off in Week 15 and 17 this season. 

2 - Buccaneers at Saints - Sunday 1 pm
Buffalo’s next opponent, the New Orleans Saints, will try to stretch their winning streak to six games. They’ll face an NFC South opponent in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs (2-5) are last in the division and the Saints (5-2) are in first.

As you’d expect New Orleans offense has averaged over 30 points during their winning streak. On the defensive side of the ball they’ve shown major improvements this season.  They rank in the middle of the pack in most major categories, a significant improvement from last year. First-round pick Marcus Lattimore has been everything they expected at the cornerback position.

The Saints could give the Bills a run for their money, though they have a history of struggling in road games up north. They’ll visit New Era Field next Sunday and try to vanquish Buffalo’s perfect home record.

3 - Teams within striking distance of Buffalo - Sunday 1 pm
A few games should be on your radar this weeknd that will impact the AFC playoff picture. The Bills currently have the first wildcard spot with their 5-3 mark. A variety of teams are in the mix and within a game of Buffalo.

The Cincinnati Bengals head to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars at 1 pm. The Jags have a 4-3 record and currently hold the second wildcard spot in the conference. If they defeat the Bengals that would hold some significance as the playoffs approach. Buffalo lost to Cincinnati, so if Jacksonville won that’d be a common opponent victory for them.

The other team trailing the Jags in the playoff picture is the Baltimore Ravens (4-4). A conference win over the Tennessee Titans (4-3) Sunday would be pivotal in staying within the mix. The Titans also currently are first in the AFC South. That matchup is at 1 pm.

Most likely the Bills will be fending off these teams at the end of the season for a playoff spot. 

4 - Will Bills retain NFL’s top turnover differential?
Buffalo’s league-leading turnover differential slipped on Thursday against the New York Jets. The Bills entered the game at plus-14 and exited at plus-11. Their margin suffered due to three fumbles lost while not forcing a single takeaway. Buffalo is still atop the league in differential but not by much.

The Kansas City Chiefs are right behind at plus-10. They’ll take on Dallas at 4:25 pm Sunday. If the Chiefs finish the game at plus-two in turnover differential they’ll leapfrog the Bills. 

5 - Can Hyde hang onto league lead in INTs?
Bills safety, Micah Hyde, has led the NFL in interceptions for several weeks. He has five on the season, the next closest player has four. Hyde played on Thursday night and wasn’t able to pick off a pass. Sunday’s games will be a good opportunity for someone to tie or pass him.

The player right on Hyde’s tail is Kevin Byard of the Tennessee Titans. He’s second in the league with four interceptions. Byard and the Titans play the Baltimore Ravens.

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