Weekend Look Ahead

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7 things to watch for in the Bills-Vikings game this weekend

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It's Buffalo's first ever visit to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. And it's the Bills next chance to pick up their first win of the year.

Ready or not, the NFL rolls along.

Here are the top seven things Bills fans can watch for this weekend:

1. HOW'S MCDERMOTT'S CULTURE HOLDING UP?

It's been a difficult start to the 2018 season, with back-to-back blowout losses for the Bills. Yet the mindset and culture Sean McDermott established in Buffalo last season remains intact.

Free agent acquisition Trent Murphy says he and his teammates are desperate for a victory, but also mindful of "the process."

"Nothing has ever happened overnight and one year in Washington we started 0-2 and we made the playoffs that year so you can't abandon ship," Murphy said, in an appearance on One Bills Live.

"It's a long season. All of a sudden you start going 1-0 the rest of the season.  Nobody remembers these first two. So, you've got to learn from it and prove you can never be the same team you were in the week prior and you just keep moving forward. We will keep working every day and show up and be right where we need to be. That's it. It's that simple. Don't over complicate a simple thing."

2. HOW ARE MCCOY'S RIBS HOLDING UP?

It has been limited work all week for RB LeSean McCoy, after he suffered 'ripped' rib cartilage last Sunday. His playing status for Sunday's game is up in the air.

But what's certain is the pain McCoy would go through if he plays. Hall of Fame RB Thurman Thomas had a similar injury during his career in Buffalo, and he says simply breathing is an effort when the ribs are involved.

"It's one of the most painful things that you'd ever want to go through," Thomas says. "You can barely breathe half the time. I did actually play with it, but I think during like the mid-second quarter you have this big old flak jacket on like the quarterbacks usually were and I was just like, 'You know what, hey, give me some medicine, man, because I can't wear this, I feel uncomfortable.'  It's very, very painful as I know and a lot of running backs know you get that rib injury, man, it's not good for you."

3. HOW WILL JOSH ALLEN HOLD UP ON THE ROAD?

He played most of the second half on the road in Baltimore two weeks ago, but the game had been decided. This Sunday marks the first NFL road start for Bills rookie QB Josh Allen.

At Wyoming, Allen played in front of 88,000 hostile fans in Lincoln, Nebraska. It will be only be 66,000 this Sunday in Minnesota. But it's 66,000 fired up, "Skol" screaming, gjallarhorn-blowing Vikings fans who will try to make Allen's day as difficult as they can.

The Bills rookie QB says he's ready.

"It's gonna be a cool environment," Allen told One Bills Drive "It's a newer stadium. Their fans are obviously hyped up and super excited for this season. They're playing well right now. In my experiences I haven't really played in that many super-loud environments so it's going to be a bit of an adjustment for me. But like I said we are going to stick to our base rules and try to focus on what we're doing."

4. IT'S NOT JUST ALLEN, OTHER ROOKIES IN THE SPOTLIGHT AS WELL

Three games into the season, the Bills find themselves giving rookies prominent playing time. Allen is the quarterback starter now, and first rounder Tremaine Edmunds will make his third start at linebacker. Harrison Phillips has taken a regular turn on the defensive line rotation. If he's healthy, rookie cornerback Taron Johnson could be back on the field as the nickel corner.

Undrafted rookie Robert Foster looks to be carving out a spot for himself at the wide receiver spot also, with 16 snaps in the opener at Baltimore, and almost twice that many, 29, against the Chargers.

Foster says he's leaning on one of the team captains, fullback Pat DiMarco, for guidance as he breaks into the NFL.

"In the meeting rooms, I sit next to Pat DiMarco," Foster says.  "I really look up to Pat DiMarco because he's a vet and at some point, I want to be a vet too and I try to stay healthy."

''I'm always with coach Chad (Hall), Coach Shea (Tierney), and just trying to be ahead of the game because like I said, I'm still a rookie so I'm trying to develop to be the best player I can possibly be for the Buffalo Bills and try to help us win "

5. BIG MILESTONE GAME FOR KYLE WILLIAMS

When he takes the field Sunday, Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams will appear in his 170th all-time game for the Bills. That will put him tied for 10th in franchise history in number of games played—the late Kent Hull also played in 170 games.

If Williams plays every game this season, he would pass Thurman Thomas, Mark Pike, and Steve Freeman to move into seventh place all-time, four games behind Darryl Talley.

6. VIKINGS BIG INVESTMENT PAYING OFF

It looks like Minnesota's huge free agent investment in Kirk Cousins is paying off. He's completing 66-percent of his passes, averaging well over 300-passing yards per game, with six touchdowns and one interception.

The Vikings guaranteed Cousins $84 million over three years when they pried him away from Washington back in March.

And a close observer of Vikings football says Cousins is doing more than just putting up numbers. Former Minnesota coach and player Pete Bercich is the color analyst on the Vikings radio network. He says Cousins has provided critical leadership so far this season.

"You bring in a guy like Kirk Cousins to do exactly what he did on Sunday," Bercich said on an appearance on One Bills Live. "You give up a touchdown on a blocked punt--things just aren't going your way. Then it's 21-7 at the start of the 4th quarter and then you end up scoring 21-22 points in that last quarter and that's what we brought him in for. He's showed that leadership and he proved his worth for that 84-million that the Vikings guaranteed him so that investment for sure is paying off. He's a leader here."

7. DOES THE NFL'S AERIAL CIRCUS CONTINUE?

Ten touchdown passes in two weeks for second year QB Patrick Mahomes. Eight touchdowns in two games for 14-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. It doesn't matter, young and old, the NFL passing game is on fire so far in the 2018 season.

Mahomes has a chance to set an NFL record this week. If he throws three touchdown passes Sunday, it would give Mahomes 13 in the first three weeks, surpassing Peyton Manning's all-time record of a dozen touchdown passes in weeks 1-3.

Mahomes came into this season with just one NFL start on his resume, but he was well prepared. And Peter King, of NBC Sports and Football Morning in America, says his former teammate, quarterback Alex Smith, should get a ton of credit for Mahomes play. King told One Bills Live that Smith, now with Washington, bent over backwards to help Mahomes last year.

"If you're Alex Smith and the team that you're on spends two first round picks to move up and get a quarterback, the writing's on the wall--you're not going to be the starter there much longer," King said.

"So, rather than say 'I'm going to fight this kid and I'm going to do everything I can to prevent him from taking this job,' why not help him in any way you can so that then you can get to a place at still a young age and get a new contract and be the starter for a few years?"

That's what Alex Smith did, to the benefit of the Chiefs and Mahomes. Kansas City will try to go 3-0 Sunday at 1 pm when they host San Francisco.

In the AFC East, the Jets dropped to 1-2 Thursday night with their loss in Cleveland. The 2-0 Dolphins play at home at 1 pm Sunday against the Raiders. The Patriots head to Detroit for Monday Night Football.

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