70.6 red zone touchdown percentage = No. 1 in the NFL
Buffalo's offense has had its share of shortcomings thus far this season, but one area that has been consistent throughout is their efficiency in reaching the end zone once inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
The Bills lead the league in red zone touchdown percentage as we near midseason with a success rate of 70.6 percent. Josh Allen and company have cashed in with six points on 12 of their 17 red zone possessions this season.
Part of the reason for their success is their ability to move the ball once inside the 20-yard line. Buffalo ranks second in the league in average yards per play in the red zone at almost four yards per play (3.93 yards).
They've run the ball more in the red zone than they've thrown it, keeping it on the ground 57 percent of the time. But their scoring overall in the red zone is perfectly balanced with six rushing touchdowns and six passing touchdowns.
The only problem is they haven't been able to reach the red zone more often. Their 17 red zone possessions this season are the fourth fewest in the league.
Head coach Sean McDermott saw last Sunday's game as an example of why they haven't reached the opponent's red zone more often.
"If you look at our drives, there were way too many drives that contained a negative play or a penalty and usually those are going to kill drives or at least make it real hard to convert first downs or extend drives to play clean football and score points," he said. "That's where our aim is and that's what we've got to do because we haven't scored enough points, so we have to continue to find ways to score points."
Only Pittsburgh (15), Washington (15), Miami (12) and the Jets (9) have fewer red zone possessions this season than the Bills.
Penalty count ballooning
Committing penalties this season has been a persistent issue for Buffalo. This past Sunday, the Bills had eight infractions that were accepted by the Eagles, which is right around their per game average this year (8.42).
The biggest issue with Buffalo's penalties are the ones that have come before the snap. The Bills are currently tied for the league lead in pre-snap penalties with 29, and that's in just seven games. The team tied with them for the league lead, Houston, has played eight games and run almost 200 more plays from scrimmage.
Almost half of Buffalo's 59 penalties this season have come before the snap of the ball (49%). The Bills are tied with Cleveland for the second-most false starts this season with 16. Only Houston has more (19).
The 16 false start penalties are currently double the league average of eight.
The offense isn't the only guilty party. Buffalo's defense also has five offsides penalties on the season, which is also the second-highest total in the league.
Coach McDermott has made an effort to address the penalty issues. In previous years he's had officiating crews at practice to throw flags when they see infractions committed. This past week he took a different approach.
"We had a retired NFL ref out here last week," he said. "It's an ongoing effort and I don't think it's going to go away all at once. It gets right back to our discipline and we drilled down hard on that last week even though it didn't show up. We're going to continue to drill down on that because that's an important piece of our football team."
All told the offense has committed 34 penalties and the defense has committed 20, with the remaining five taking place on special teams. Twenty of the offensive penalties have been committed by offensive linemen with defensive linemen responsible for 12. Tight ends have been flagged 10 times this season.
Right now, Buffalo is on pace for 66 pre-snap penalties, which would easily outdistance last year's total of 44.
The Bills had a total of 116 penalties last season, which ranked sixth-most in the league. In 2019, they're on pace for 135.vvvv
Other numbers to know
29.3 – The Bills average drive start off kickoffs currently leads the league. Buffalo is one of three teams to not have a single drive start off a kickoff start inside their 20-yard line. They're also third in the league in kick return average at 29.6 yards per return.
527 – John Brown's receiving yardage total this season ranks eighth in the league. He's tied for sixth in third down receptions with 11 and stands 11th in total receptions with 38.
70+ – Thirteen of Buffalo's 15 touchdown drives this season have now gone for 70 yards or more. The Bills first touchdown drive last Sunday covered 75 yards on 10 plays.
7 – Number of three-and-outs for Bills offense last Sunday, which was a season high.
21 – Number of plays allowed by Buffalo's defense of 20 yards or more, which ranks third-best in the league. Only the undefeated 49ers (16) and Patriots (20) have allowed fewer 20-plus yard plays this season.