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Weekend Look Ahead

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5 things to watch for in Bills vs. Giants | Sunday Night Football


1 - Primetime performers

We know the Bills have quite a few primetime games this season. That usually spells good news for Buffalo's offense and Josh Allen. The Bills QB has an 11-4 career record in primetime, which includes a 4-0 mark on Sunday night.

His career passing numbers in prime time include 40 passing touchdowns against 14 interceptions and a passer rating of 104, the third-highest passer rating in prime time since 2018.

Buffalo's offense will be focused on getting back to their kind of football Sunday night, something that proved difficult last week against Jacksonville.

"I think the want and the drive of this team of wanting to win, that's the make of a good football team," said Allen. "We're not okay with being mediocre. We're not okay with scoring 20 points. We're not okay with scoring 16 points, Week 1. This is an offense where we should be going out there and we should be executing. And it's Week 5. There's still a lot of football left there's no panic.

"But again, guys have that drive to go out there and score on every single possession. And is that plausible throughout the year? Absolutely not. But making sure that we're not making the mental mistakes. And, again, those guys on the other side of the ball, they get paid to make plays too. And they're going to make plays. We're okay with that, but we want to take care of what we can control and that's what we're fixing right now."

Allen will be looking to connect early and often with leading receiver Stefon Diggs, who is tied for first in touchdown receptions (5), third in receptions (39) and sixth in receiving yards (520). Diggs is also the only player with at least 100 receiving yards in four games this season.

If he can manage 100 receiving yards on Sunday night, he'll become the fifth player in the Super Bowl era to record at least 100 receiving yards in five of his team's first six games of a season. The only others to do it are Pro Football Hall of Famers Marvin Harrison and Michael Irvin along with Stanley Morgan and Diggs' former teammate, Adam Thielen.

"As a leader on this team I hold myself to a very high standard, and I'm very hard on myself," said Diggs. "I'm here to do a job. I try to control what I can and make plays when I can and when the positive happens, keep going."

Playing Sunday night's game at home makes things even more favorable for the Bills. Since 2022, the Bills are 8-1 and average 34.3 points per game when playing at Highmark Stadium.

Allen is also 12-0 in his career against bottom four defenses in points allowed. The Giants rank 29th in points allowed this season. Buffalo has averaged 30.4 points per game against bottom four defenses in points allowed with Allen as their starting quarterback.

Scroll to see photos from the Buffalo Bills Week 6 Practice as the team prepares to take on the New York Giants.

2 - QB question

Giants QB Daniel Jones will be trying to return from a neck injury suffered in last week's game at Miami that forced him from the contest. Head coach Brian Daboll was initially optimistic about Jones being healthy enough to play on Sunday night, but that changed on Wednesday this week when Jones did not practice. Jones did not practice again on Thursday, putting his availability further in doubt. Daboll would not disclose the nature of the neck injury, whether it's a long-term issue and did not rule him out yet for Sunday's game.

He did say signing a veteran quarterback behind Tyrod Taylor would be a potential option they might consider if necessary.

Jones has had his share of struggles this season as he is the lowest rated starting quarterback in the league (71.7). Part of the reason is his protection in the passing game has been very inconsistent due to poor execution and injuries. New York has been without starting left tackle Andrew Thomas since Week 1 due to a hamstring injury.

"The worry is that he suffered a neck injury that forced him to miss the final month of the 2021 season, so you hope this isn't a repeat of that," said Giants radio pregame and postgame host, John Schmeelk in an appearance on the ‘Bills by the Numbers’ podcast. "I think the Giants are hoping that he's good to go, but the other part of that is you have to hope if he does play that they can protect him knowing the Bills lead the league in sacks."

As a result of all that line shuffling, Jones has been sacked 28 times in the Giants' first five games, as New York allows the highest sack percentage to opponents in the league.

If Jones for some reason cannot play, New York's backup QB is former Bills starting QB Tyrod Taylor. Taylor came on in relief of Jones last week and went 9-of-12 passing for 94 yards and was sacked once.

ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky, in his weekly appearance on ‘One Bills Live,’ doesn't see the Giants' offense changing at all if Taylor has to start in Jones' place.

"Daniel is a really good athlete, Tyrod is a really good athlete," said Orlosvky. "Their offense won't change that much if Tyrod has to play. Maybe Tyrod might be more willing to drive the ball down the field a little bit more, but stylistically they won't be that different."

Forty-three of Taylor's 53 career starts came with the Bills. Sunday night would be his first start in a Giants uniform and mark the fifth team for whom he has started a game in his career (BUF, CLE, HOU, LAC).

3 - Stepping in and stepping up

Bills GM Brandon Beane worked tirelessly this offseason to fortify Buffalo's roster with proven talent and depth after their 2022 campaign was largely compromised by numerous injuries. In 2023, Buffalo is experiencing similar injury problems to major contributors like Tre'Davious White, Matt Milano and DaQuan Jones the last two weeks.

Several other players are nursing less serious injuries in an effort to return to the lineup.

Head coach Sean McDermott acknowledges that things will be different without players of that caliber in the lineup but expects those who step into the lineup to be just as sound and competitive with their play.

"Overall, it's the job of the person who is stepping in to do the job," said McDermott. "And we have full confidence in that player, whoever that player is in this case, and I mean a piece of this is those guys, they're not able to play, the guys that you're all talking about and so a piece of it is playing for those guys too, because they were a big piece of this team and still are but they can't help it so much now so we play for them."

Knowing Buffalo's secondary also has Christian Benford (shoulder) and Dane Jackson (foot) trying to return from injury, Orlovsky believes most of the defensive load will fall to their deep defensive front.

"I think the burden of their defensive line is going to go up. Buffalo probably plays a little bit less man, and they weren't playing a ton of it to begin with," said Orlovsky. "Players like Kaiir Elam have to step up and become more consistent pros. That's going to be the big story the rest of the season. Will the players that weren't expected to play in those roles be able to play at a winning level."

4 - Return of Saquon?

New York's two-time Pro Bowl back, Saquon Barkley, has missed each of the last three games due to a high-ankle sprain suffered in Week 2. Matt Breida, a former Bills back, has been carrying much of the rushing load in Barkley's absence the last three games, but has struggled to be productive averaging less than three yards per carry (2.7).

With Barkley out, QB Daniel Jones has become the team's leading rusher, usually because he's trying to scramble and elude pressure.

Barkley has one career appearance against the Bills, and it was a productive one. He rushed for over 100 yards on just 18 carries (107) for almost a six yards per carry average (5.94). Barkley also had a rushing touchdown and three receptions in what wound up being a 28-14 loss for the Giants.

He was a game time decision last week, but ultimately did not play against the Dolphins. Giants pregame and postgame radio host, John Schmeelk, thinks he has a good chance to return to the lineup against the Bills on Sunday night.

"He's gone up to game day for two straight weeks. Two weeks ago, he was doubtful. Last week he was questionable. He was ruled out last Sunday on game day," Schmeelk said. "I think he's getting there. He's had ankle injuries before so they're trying not to bring him back too early, so he looks like himself when he does come back. My guess is we're going to be sitting there on Sunday evening, waiting for that pregame workout to see if he can go. My feeling is he has a legit shot to play."

The Giants could certainly use him in the lineup since they currently sit second to last in the league in scoring. They're also 23rd in run plays of 10 yards or more with just 11 on the season. Barkley was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

5 - Fixing Buffalo's offensive potency

Last week, the Bills offense chose to move away from their play-action passing game, which had yielded a lot of success through their three-game winning streak. Buffalo's effectiveness in their run game wasn't what it had been the previous three weeks, and the rhythm of their passing attack was off as well.

ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky on 'One Bills Live' this week believes the Bills should get Josh Allen back under center more this week against the Giants to recapture some of that offensive success.

"They just didn't live in that play action world and then they didn't generate a lot of the chunk plays in the pass game," said Orlovsky. "Putting Josh under center and running play action was great for them because it helped their protection and Josh could drive the ball downfield and it allowed Stef (Diggs) time to work on his routes because that's his superpower. They had become a top three run team when they would put him under center and run the football. That wasn't the case last week.

"I just think reverting back to that would've helped. Not expanding that hindered them a little bit and they didn't gain any type of explosive plays outside of one or two they had, and one of them was a play action. It just forced a higher level of overall efficiency and that didn't happen. So, I don't necessarily know why they didn't do it more."

Offensive coordinator, Ken Dorsey, believes it's about better efficiency on early downs to not put so much of a burden on converting on third down.

"I think just being able to extend some drives there and create some opportunities on driving the football," Dorsey said. "Those couple three and outs early in the game obviously hurt us. We've just got to make sure we're being effective on first and second down, converting on third down, extending drives so that you can incorporate that balance and do those types of things that we've been good in the first few games of the year."

"I think it's an effort from everybody on the field," said Allen. "We're an offense where whatever (offensive coordinator) Ken Dorsey calls, we should go out there and execute, no matter what it is. If it's a run or a pass, it starts with me, so I've got to be better. We've got to be better finding ways to move the ball and get ourselves into that rhythm when maybe things aren't going all that well. We'll learn from it and we're moving on."

Damar Hamlin, Josh Allen, Dawson Knox and Gabe Davis take in the Sabres 2023 season opener against the NY Rangers on Thursday night.

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