1. This ESPN writer thinks Buffalo's defense could 'spark a Super Bowl run'
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler believes five defenses in the NFL could be talented enough to take their team to the Super Bowl and the Bills are one of those five. Like many have said, Fowler explained Buffalo's defense is shutting down offenses without a bevy of superstars.
Buffalo's approach to personnel is clear: Identify what players do well, then let them do that. In Hyde, Buffalo saw a safety who could cover tight ends in the slot really well. In Poyer, they saw a good tackler and a smart player. Now the duo prevent big plays weekly. Buffalo allows 15.9 points per game (second behind the Patriots) despite ranking 10th in takeaways, with 21.
Buffalo's defense proved themselves to many when they limited Lamar Jackson like no other team has this season.
In Week 14, Jackson averaged 5.8 yards per pass and didn't break a run longer than 16 yards, in part because Buffalo coaches pored over Baltimore formations all week and told players not to "get nosy" against the read-option (as in, don't chase the ball).
The Bills aren't worried about getting approval from others, they follow in the footsteps of their head coach Sean McDermott who wants them to be their best version of themselves on the field.
"Sean gave us the confidence by saying, 'Don't be anybody you're not,'" Hyde said. "I was thrown into the mix [in Green Bay] that I was doing so much to help the football team but I wasn't able to focus on one position. But when I got here, they said, 'Do what you do best. That's how a lot of guys got here.'"
Aside from Buffalo, Fowler says the defenses who have it figured out and could possibly ride their defense to a Super Bowl are the Steelers, the 49ers, the Patriots and the Ravens.
2. NFL's top two interception leaders will be on display Saturday
Buffalo's Tre'Davious White and New England's Stephon Gilmore lead the league in interceptions with six each heading into Week 16. It's the first time the NFL interception leaders met in a game this late in the season since 1970. White is no stranger to Gilmore's talent level; White says he will always show appreciation to defensive backs who set themselves apart in this league.
"Anytime I see a good defensive back, I always tip my hat to him because like I say it is tough to play this position," White said. "Then doing what he's doing following the best guys, each and every week, and doing it at a high level. He has all my respect, and he's been having a great year and man he's been a great player for some time now."
White says the two exchanged numbers a few months back and have been texting on and off. Although, White says this week there have been no text messages exchanged, he will catch up with Gilmore after the game.
"I texted him actually before the (Bengals) game on Sunday," White said. "I was like, 'Man, you got two picks. I'm feeling a little motivated today.' So, look how the football gods work. I was able to get two picks myself, so then after the game he was like, you should have ran that back. So, it's a good competition though. He's a good dude."
The two have yet to allow a touchdown this season. Per Next Gen Stats, Gilmore leads the league with 82 targets and zero touchdowns. White is second with 81 targets and no touchdowns allowed.
3. Jordan Poyer: We just expect to win
Jordan Poyer joined Jim Rome on the Jim Rome Show this week to talk about what's the difference in the team making the playoffs this year versus 2017. Poyer explained the culture began in 2017, but now in 2019, the team has a different mindset.
"It all started back when Sean McDermott got here with building the culture," Poyer said. "Now it's different. That year (2017) we weren't really expecting to win, it just kind of happened. This year we go into every game expecting to win, no matter who we are playing or where we are playing. I think it's just the mindset of our team, the guys in the locker room, the type of guys that we have in our locker room and just the culture out here. We just expect to win and we work extremely hard. That's just our mindset."
Poyer added he enjoys having a former safety, Sean McDermott, attend meetings and give his input to help the defense grow and reach new heights.
"He likes to say play unconscious," Poyer said. "Go out there and be fearless, don't be afraid to make a mistake. That's when we play at our best is when we're playing fearless and fast. Sean was a safety back in college, so he has had a long history of coaching defensive backs throughout the league. To be able to have his input on the defensive side of the ball, he is a very defensive minded coach. To be able to have his input and tell us how he sees things to be played, we can go out there and execute it. It has been fun playing for Coach McDermott and we want to continue to keep rolling."