Weekend Look Ahead

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7 things to watch for in Bills at Giants and around the AFC East | Week 2

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The Bills will return to the Meadowlands for the second consecutive week looking for the same result as Week 1 with better execution. It’s the first of four games Buffalo plays this season against the NFC East. They’ve won eight and lost eight against the other conference in the last four seasons.

Here’s a look ahead at the Bills-Giants matchup, and some other news and notes from around the NFL headed into week two:

1. SEEING THE “DOG” IN JOSH ALLEN

The Bills quarterback is set for his 13th NFL start this week, looking to eliminate the turnovers he played a part in last Sunday, and keep the momentum going from his strong second half against the Jets.

His performance in week one won plaudits from national observers like Kyle Brandt of NFL Network. The host of “Good Morning Football” appeared on One Bills Live this week and said he loved watching Allen’s competitive fire leading the comeback against the Jets.

“A guy who comes back, from that much down in the second half, in the season opener, he definitely has some ‘dog’ in him,” Brandt told the show. “I’m not saying he’s Joe Montana or Jim Kelly, but you get some flashes of it.”

“I know this – I know he’s fearless, which I like,” Brandt continued. “We saw him do things last year and even early this year, with compete disregard for his own safety. Now, maybe that’s a problem, but I like it.  This was big. Great, great win.”

2. THURMAN SEES LEADERSHIP FROM BILLS QB

Josh Allen’s competitiveness, his arm strength, his athleticism – they’ve all been well documented in his brief NFL career.

Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas sees something else — the makings of a great leader.

“In a short period of time he’s really turned into a great leader for the Buffalo Bills organization and the city of Buffalo,” Thomas told One Bills Live. “When you have that type of leadership going the way he does, he wants to win, and he wants other players to do well. But he also has the mindset of, ‘you know what? If I play bad, I’m going to own up to it.’ I think that’s what you’re getting right now out of Josh Allen.”

3. NUMBER ONE TARGET, NOT NUMBER ONE RECEIVER

Those preseason concerns that Josh Allen might not have a “No. 1 receiver” on the Bills roster? Gone. 

Allen targeted free agent pickup John Brown 10 times in the Jets game. He caught seven passes for 123 yards, including the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Despite that production in his first game with the Bills, John Brown says he’s not ready to assume the role of the “No. 1 receiver.” In fact, he told One Bills Live that designation is meaningless for this team.

“We all made plays,” Brown said. “I’m still not so big on a number one receiver because you never know. This week, it may be designed for another receiver to step up to number one. So, whenever my number gets called, I’ll be willing to make the plays.”

4. GIANTS SHORT ON WEAPONS?

Buffalo’s opponents Sunday have already taken some hits on the injury front. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard spent most of the week in concussion protocol. Fifth-round draft pick wide receiver Darius Slayton has been dealing with a hamstring strain. And wide receiver Golden Tate will serve game two of a four-game suspension this week.

ESPN analyst and fantasy football expert Field Yates was asked if the Giants have enough offensive firepower going up against Buffalo.

“Right now, no, other than Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram,” Yates told One Bills Live. “Obviously, those two players are tremendous in their respective spots. Saquon Barkley had just 15 total touches and yet he had 120 rushing yards. The guy is just tremendous every time he touches the football. He’s the best running back in the league.”

“Evan Engram had 12 targets last week. That number could go up even more as the Giants are dealing with Sterling Shepard in concussion protocol. But for now, I think you should plan on it being the Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley show on Sunday.”

5. ROAD WINS ALWAYS A PLUS

The Bills have a chance to start the season with two straight wins on the road, which would be a great boost for a franchise that hasn’t finished a season with a winning record on the road since 1999. They were 2-6 on the road last year and Buffalo has won five and lost 11 away from home under Sean McDermott.

What should help this week is the familiarity of the road venue. It’s the second straight week in MetLife Stadium. The Bills are looking at the same field, same locker room, same road hotel, same 50-minute flight to New Jersey.

6. HALL OF FAME SEMIFINALISTS

This year’s list of semi-finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is out, and the Bills have some candidates: C Kent Hull, LBs Takeo Spikes, Cornelius Bennett, Daryl Talley, and Chris Spielman are on the list. As is special teams ace Steve Tasker, who’s been eligible for Hall of Fame consideration for years.

Yet Tasker, co host of One Bills Live, sees another special teamer on the list of semi-finalists that caught his eye.

“Let me just set the record straight right now, once and for all,” Tasker said. “You know which special teamer deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? Brian Mitchell.”

Mitchell played 14 years in the NFL, 10 of them in Washington. He returned kicks and punts and got work as a running back and receiver. Mitchell scored 13 special teams touchdowns, second only to Devin Hester.

And Tasker says his overall yardage production was surpassed by just one man.

“You get down past every player who is not a quarterback, there’s one player ahead of him that has more yards—Jerry Rice,” Tasker said. Mitchell finished his career with 23,330 all-purpose yards.

“Brian Mitchell—return back, receiving, running yards,” Tasker sums up. “He did it all. He was a football player. Put that guy in.”

7. AFC EAST DRAMA, EVERYWHERE BUT HERE

The focus of attention in the AFC East might not be on Buffalo this week. There are too many dramatic developments elsewhere.

Will Antonio Brown play for New England when the Patriots kick off at Miami at 1 pm Sunday? Some observers wonder if recent allegations made against Brown might compel the league to put him on the Commissioner’s Exempt list this week, or if the league might encourage the Patriots to keep Brown out.

The Dolphins will be leaning on history in this one—they’ve won five of their last six games against the Patriots in Miami. More recent Dolphins history, last week’s 59-10 loss to Baltimore, will probably not be discussed much in Miami.

And the Jets head to Cleveland for a Monday night game without quarterback Sam Darnold, who may miss a few games suffering from mononucleosis. They’ve lost top wide receiver Quincy Enunwa for the year, and star running back Le’veon Bell is a question mark. Rough start to the season for the Jets.

As the Bills prepare to play on the road against the NFC East New York Giants, scroll through to view photos from previous matchups between the two opponents.

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