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Weekend Look Ahead

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5 things to watch for in Bills vs. Raiders | Week 2


1. A ready response

The Bills loss in overtime in Week 1 was eerily reminiscent of the club's three regular season losses in 2022, when they helped their opponents beat them with miscues and turnovers. Unable to change the outcome of those performances, rebounding the next week becomes most important.

"They've been professional. Everyone looks at themselves first and says, `This is what I could have done better.' And I think that's the right approach," said head coach Sean McDermott. "And then we move forward as a team. We've got to do some things better. There's a lot that we did well, but at the same time, there's things that we've got to do better as we move forward here and build for the season throughout the year."

Chief among the corrections is ball security, as Buffalo's four turnovers last week led to 13 points for a Jets team that needed overtime to score 22. Josh Allen was at the center of those four giveaways and is committed to doing better with his risk management going forward.

"Just understanding the game, understanding situations and making that a point of emphasis on game day," said Allen. "I let it get away from me this last game and I'm not going to let it affect me going forward. As a quarterback in this league, the best ones are able to kind of put this behind them but take away lessons from it and not let it affect how they play the next game in a negative way. So, again, try to use it to my advantage and learn from it. It's not the first time I've thrown three. So just trying to put it behind me and focus on playing smart ball and putting this team in situations to win football games."

"Everyone deals with their own challenges," said head coach Sean McDermott. "In this case, Josh has a lot of good in him. We've all seen that. We've seen the talent. We've seen the competitiveness. So everyone has things that they're working on in this case, Josh is working on these areas of his game, and I fully expect him to make the adjustment."

Since 2020, Buffalo has posted a 6-3 record when coming off a loss.

"It's one game, move forward. We'll shake back. We always do," said Stefon Diggs. "I don't want to take a loss too hard. There's nothing we can do about it now. We'll try to get one this week."

2. Elite receivers on display

Two of the most productive wide receivers in the league over the last seven seasons will be sharing the Highmark Stadium field on Sunday. Since 2016, Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs rank first and second among receivers in receptions. Adams has 687, while Diggs sits right behind him with 661.

In receiving yards they rank first (Adams, 8,774) and fourth (Diggs, 8,194) among all receivers since 2016. And when it comes to receiving touchdowns over that same span, Adams (83) and Diggs (56) again rank first and fourth among receivers.

As evidence of the mutual respect between the two veteran receivers, Adams admits to keeping a watchful eye on a counterpart like Diggs, to see if there's something he can take from his game and incorporate into his own.

"It's cool to just go out there and watch and learn some stuff," Adams said. "Hopefully, he doesn't put too much stuff on tape that I can learn from playing against us. But it's always good to see some releases, and just see a guy that I've been playing with and around for a while, with us obviously being rivals in NFC North in the past. So, it's one of my guys, so it'll be good to see him. Hopefully he's not putting too much on tape though."

"Davante has been one of the best receivers in the league for a while now," said Diggs. "I was in Minnesota, and he was in Green Bay, so I've been seeing it for a while. There was a time I saw it twice a year. It's not too much of a surprise, but you can see what makes guys special and he doesn't have too many weaknesses. There are a couple of receivers where you just look at their game and say, 'Hmm, well done.'"

The two receivers additionally rank first and second in downfield receiving touchdowns since 2020 with 24 (Adams) and 23 (Diggs). They also have two of the five longest consecutive games streaks with a reception. Diggs' streak stands third among active players with 120 consecutive games. Adams ranks fifth with 115.

3. Rushing champ rolling in

The Las Vegas Raiders boast some elite talent on their roster at some premium positions like wide receiver and defensive end, but they also have the league's leading rusher in their offensive backfield.

Josh Jacobs led the NFL in rushing yards last season rolling up 1,653 in 2022 finishing 115 yards ahead of Tennessee's Derrick Henry. If the Raiders approach in Week 1 is any indication, head coach Josh McDaniels hasn't been shy in making Jacobs the focal point of their offense.

Capable of keeping their game with Denver close last week, they continued to utilize Jacobs on the ground to the tune of 29 carries. Sixteen of those 29 carries came out of 21 personnel in which they used fullback Jakob Johnson, who weighs 255 pounds, as a lead back for the talented Jacobs.

"That's the type of ball that McDaniels likes to play," said Micah Hyde of the Raiders. "So we've got to be ready for it, and it's a great running back. They're going to test us and it's going to be a big challenge for us."

Buffalo surrendered some long runs last week against the Jets last week, and entering this matchup and it has one NFL analyst curious about Buffalo's approach with their run front.

"They're (using 21 personnel) to play smash mouth football with their fullback," said ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky on ‘One Bills Live’ this week. "If the Bills are going to play so much nickel or three safety, my concern is the Raiders will be successful running the football. I want to see how the Bills will adjust to that defensively."

Scroll to see photos from the September 14, 2023 practice as the Bills prepare for Week 2.

4. Matchup problem?

Last week the Bills utilized two tight end sets on 63 percent of their offensive snaps. That's unlikely to continue to that degree every week, but it could make sense again in Week 2. Raiders radio color analyst Lincoln Kennedy, in an appearance on ‘One Bills Live’ this week, doesn't believe the matchup with Dawson Knox and Dalton Kincaid favors Las Vegas.

"They are still putting a lot of pressure on the safeties in this system, which will be their biggest question mark," Kennedy said. "Their ability to cover capable tight ends and bigger receivers out of the slot. There will be a lot of stress on the safeties."

Kincaid managed four receptions on four targets in his NFL debut last week for 26 yards, while Knox pulled in three catches for 25 yards.

Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was encouraged by what the two tight end looks provided in terms of options last week.

"I think it was good for us," Dorsey said. "I think it created some good matchups. And we were able to put some guys in some different spots and move guys around. And it was an effective tool for us. Last week it was that, and this week we might be in more 11 or some 21 or whatever it is. Who knows? Week to week is going to be dictated based off of the opponent a little bit and then the flow of the game a little bit and kind of how things are going. I think our guys understand that when you look back on the stat sheet you love to see multiple guys with multiple catches. And that's what we're striving for because we want to be as diverse as we can with how we're attacking people."

The Raiders surrendered seven receptions on seven targets for 56 yards to Denver tight ends last week.

5. Raiders gunning for more takeaways

After a 2022 season that saw the Raiders finish dead last in takeaways with just 13 on the season, a premium has been put on forcing more turnovers. Las Vegas signed free agent safety Marcus Epps away from Philadelphia and ball hawking veteran CB Marcus Peters was a late addition right before training camp.

Peters' 32 career interceptions are far and away the most among cornerbacks on the Las Vegas roster. The two-time first team All-Pro has brought bravado to the Raiders' secondary according to Raiders radio color analyst Lincoln Kennedy.

"He's really brought a lot of attitude to that secondary," Kennedy said on ‘One Bills Live’ this week. "He along with the signing of Epps was done for a specific reason. There's a lot of pressure on this defense to create turnovers and get stops. Last year they didn't have the right personnel to play this style of defense."

The Raiders also drafted CB Jakorian Bennett in the fourth round to fortify their ranks on the outside. The big question is whether or not the Raiders will choose to have the veteran Peters follow Diggs no matter where he lines up on the field.

"The way Peters plays he likes to read the quarterback and take risks," Kennedy said. "It'll be interesting to see who they put on Diggs. Are they going to move Peters around or are they just going to line up and play on their respective sides?"

"He's a longtime vet in this league," said Josh Allen of Peters. "He's very savvy, route recognition, tends to jump some routes and has some success doing that. So we've got to be aware of where he's at and who he's on because he can impact a game."

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