1 – How this wide receiver sees the Bills offensive identity taking shape
It looks as though Buffalo is starting to discover something that it’s been looking for all season - an offensive identity.
The unit exploded in the team’s Week 10 win over the Jets, putting up a season-high 451 net yards on 73 offensive plays. Buffalo averaged a campaign-high 6.2 yards per offensive play in the 41-10 win.
Second-year receiver Zay Jones, who set new career highs in receptions and receiving yards in the victory (eight for 93 yards), feels as though the offensive display was simply an indication of what the team can accomplish moving forward.
“It was a glimpse, definitely, of the team that we can be,” Jones said. “But last week doesn’t transfer over to this coming week. Just hoping to build on that momentum. We’ve got a great defense coming in here on Sunday, so I’m excited to get some good competition.”
Buffalo’s offense has been steadily improving as the season has progressed, with Week 10 seemingly being the culmination of months of hard work. The Bills have averaged at least five yards per offensive play in three out of their past four contests.
Buffalo will look to carry its new-found confidence into its Week 12 contest with the Jaguars. Another successful outing would go a long way in establishing a consistent offensive identity, according to Jones.
“Yeah, it molds and shapes who we are,” Jones said. “It’s hard because now Josh [Allen] is coming back. Hopefully we can continue to build on that momentum that we had, keep establishing that run game. Offensive line did a great job with jet sweeps. Hopefully they keep that going, and us receivers and playmakers just have to go out and make those plays to put points on the board.”
2 - ‘Zo: No revenge factor in playoff rematch
If you want to know where the fountain of youth is, just ask Lorenzo Alexander, because he’s seemingly found it.
The 35-year-old is in the midst of yet another incredibly productive season. Through the first 10 games of the 2018 season, he’s totaled 37 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and five pass deflections. He’s been a Swiss army knife of a defender for the Bills, seeing time across the defensive line in addition to starting at strongside linebacker.
Alexander’s resurgence really started in the 2017 postseason. The defender was all over the field in Buffalo’s Wild Card round matchup with the Jacksonville, a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who was in on seemingly every play. Alexander finished the game with 10 tackles, one sack, and two tackles for loss.
The former Cal Bear will have the opportunity to replicate this success on Sunday, as the Bills will host the Jaguars in a Week 12 contest. While last year’s playoff matchup is in the back of Alexander’s mind, his focus is on this year’s Jacksonville squad.
“No [revenge factor],” Alexander said. “Obviously they knocked us out. They’re a chirpy bunch. That’s kind of the persona of their team. I like that, I like a physical type of style when they play, and that’s kind of their personality, especially on offense.
“I can’t wait to get out there and compete against these guys because it’s going to be a fun game. I had fun last year playing against them, and I think this year, defensively, we want to rise up to the occasion and help our team play and put ourselves in the [position] to win this game at the end.”
3 - PFF: Bills must avoid Campbell in run game
If Buffalo plans on running the ball this Sunday, it should look to avoid Calais Campbell at all costs.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Jacksonville edge defender has been dominant against the run thus far this season. When the opposition calls run plays in Campbell’s direction, they pick up an average of just 2.8 yards per carry.
When teams run to the opposite side, however, they average 4.8 yards per carry. Teams average an even 5.0 yards per rush when Campbell is off the field entirely.
Staying away from Campbell would be in the Bills’ best interests this Sunday. The team will likely rely on the ground game, as LeSean McCoy is coming off a season-high 113 rushing yard performance. Buffalo may look to get Chris Ivory involved, as well, as the power back played for the Jags from 2016-2017.
The Bills can find success on the ground against Jacksonville, as the Jaguars have allowed an average of 109.3 rushing yards per game this season. If Buffalo attempts to run toward Campbell, however, it may find itself consistently running into a brick wall.
PFF also highlighted a few more interesting stats in its Week 12 preview, the most fascinating of which surrounds Jerry Hughes. The Bills’ pass rusher is generating pressure on 20.5 percent of his snaps, the most among all edge defenders. The 30-year-old has tallied 50 pressures this far, according to the outlet, the second most among 104 qualifying players.
Hughes will have the opportunity to create more pressure this weekend. Ereck Flowers, who was released by the Giants earlier this season, will likely start for the Jags at left tackle. PFF identified the Hughes-Flowers battle as the game’s ‘key matchup.’