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Weekend Look Ahead

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7 things to watch for in Bills at Cardinals | Week 10

Josh Allen (top left), Stefon Diggs (top middle), Mario Addison (top right), Kyler Murray (bottom left), DeAndre Hopkins (bottom middle), Patrick Peterson (bottom right).
Josh Allen (top left), Stefon Diggs (top middle), Mario Addison (top right), Kyler Murray (bottom left), DeAndre Hopkins (bottom middle), Patrick Peterson (bottom right).

1. Dual threat duel

Josh Allen and Kyler Murray have been two of the most prolific dual-threat quarterbacks in the league this season. Sunday's game features only the second matchup since the 1970 merger between two signal callers with 15 or more passing touchdowns and five or more rushing touchdowns in their first nine games of a season.

The only other such matchup in that 50-year span came last season in Week 11 matchup between Baltimore's Lamar Jackson and Houston's Deshaun Watson.

Sunday is also just the fourth matchup since 1950 between opposing quarterbacks with five or more rushing touchdowns entering the game in Week 10 or earlier.

Many outside observers are expecting fireworks from these two QBs in light of the fact that Allen and Murray are two of just six quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era with 30 or more passing TDs, 10 or more rushing TDs, average 20 or more rushing yards per game and have five or more game-winning drives in their first three season.

And while Murray is on pace to become the first player in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season, Allen is poised to have the most efficient season by a Bills quarterback in team history as his current completion percentage (68.9), passing yards per game (287.4), yards per attempt (8.2), TD-INT ratio (19-5) and passer rating (107.2).

2. A Murray roadblock?

There haven't been many defenses that have been able to completely neutralize Kyle Murray this season. It's why he is the eighth-leading rusher in the league despite the fact that in most cases he has half the carries than most of his competitors in the rushing category.

But the Bills have one player in particular who has had some success against Murray in terms of corralling the quick and elusive Cardinals quarterback.

Mario Addison is one of the few Bills players who faced Murray in his rookie season of 2019. And Addison had a day with three sacks of Murray and a pair of quarterback hits. Addison and his Carolina Panthers teammates last season sacked the Arizona QB eight times in the game en route to a 38-20 victory.

One of the only other players to face Murray on the Bills roster last season was fellow line mate Quinton Jefferson, whose Seattle team split the season series with the Cardinals last year.

3. 10 personnel all around

Much has been made of Buffalo's heavy use of 10 personnel this season (1 RB, 4 WRs). The Bills have made use of the four-wide look on 19 percent of their offensive plays this season (109 of 569).

But there's one NFL club that has made use of it even more than the Bills.

The Arizona Cardinals.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is utilizing the four-wide look more than 21 percent of the time as he typically deploys DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald and Andy Isabella in their 10 personnel packages.

They've run 115 of their 542 plays with 10 personnel.

Arizona and Buffalo rank first and second in the four-wide formation, with the next closest team, Tampa Bay, not even running it half as often as them (49 plays).

Scroll through to see the best photos from Buffalo's practice as they prepare for Week 10 against the Arizona Cardinals.

4. Me and my shadow

The Bills and Cardinals each have an elite receiver and an elite cover corner on their respective rosters.

Arizona has DeAndre Hopkins and Patrick Peterson and Buffalo has Stefon Diggs and Tre'Davious White.

Diggs and Hopkins are two of three players in the league with 60 or more receptions and 700 or more receiving yards, with Diggs leading the league in both categories.

On the defensive side of the ball Peterson and White have been called upon to travel with top flight receivers like these by their respective clubs. According to Pro Football Focus, which considers shadowing to be when a corner follows an opponent's receiver on more than 50 percent of the snaps, Peterson has shadowed three receivers this season, Washington's Terry McLaurin, Seattle's DK Metcalf and Miami's DeVante Parker.

White meanwhile has shadowed an opposing receiver in four games this season, Miami's Preston Williams, Las Vegas' Zay Jones, the Jets Breshad Perriman and Seattle's DK Metcalf.

Surprisingly, no team has had their top corner travel with DeAndre Hopkins this season per PFF. Hopkins, who has played against the Bills three times in his career, has at least five receptions and 60 or more receiving yards and one or more receiving touchdowns in all three games.

5. Red Sea running it up in the red zone

The Cardinals are certainly capable of dialing up long distance plays for touchdowns, but the majority of their scoring has been in the red zone. Ranked an impressive fifth in the league in red zone touchdown efficiency, Arizona is converting on 75 percent of their red zone possessions this season.

What's interesting is the Cardinals have split the way in which they've scored inside the 20-yard line pretty evenly. Nine of their 21 red zone scores have come on the ground with Murray himself, running six of those in for touchdowns.

The Bills rank 16th in the league in red zone touchdown percentage (61.5%).

6. A different approach on first down

Both the Bills and Cardinals offenses have been pretty proficient on first downs this season. Buffalo ranks third in the NFL in average gain on first down, picking up more than six and a half yards per first down (6.51). Arizona isn't far behind averaging 6.18 yards per first down to rank seventh in the league.

The way they achieve those yardage totals however, has been in stark contrast.

The Bills lead the league in pass percentage on first down, throwing the ball more than 59 percent of the time (59.2%).

The Cardinals have gone in a different direction. They're tied for the eighth-highest rushing percentage on first down, carrying the ball out of the backfield 55 percent of the time.

It will bear watching to see if either of these teams chooses to break those tendencies on Sunday.

7. Patched up secondary

While the Bills secondary appears to be getting healthier, Arizona's is still on the mend. Safeties Budda Baker and Deionte Thompson have been dealing with groin and knee injuries respectively this week. Fortunately, they did get S Jalen Thompson back off of I-R last week.

Their cornerback situation is a bit better after getting CB Byron Murphy back off the COVID reserve list this week and the team signed veteran free agent CB Johnathan Joseph this week for insurance after CB Kevin Peterson went on injured reserve with a concussion.

But the league's 19th ranked pass defense is still putting all their pieces back together.

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