1 – Waiting on WatkinsThe Bills are hoping to take another step forward this week with one of their top offensive playmakers.
Sammy Watkins, sidelined since Week 2 with a foot injury, is eligible to return from the injured reserve to appear in a game this Sunday against Jacksonville.
Under the new injured reserve rules Watkins has been eligible to practice for the past two weeks, but he still wasn't healthy enough to return to the practice field with his teammates. Rex Ryan said the Bills will be just as cautious with Watkins this week and leave his fate in the hands of the medical staff.
Watkins appeared in Buffalo's first two games of the season, but was visibly limited by his surgically repaired foot, hauling in only six catches for 63 yards.
Preston Brown surprised some people after Sunday's game by giving indication that the Bills would have Watkins back in the lineup against the Jaguars, but Ryan laughed off that declaration from his linebacker.
"No, I wouldn't begin to give you a percentage (on if he plays)," Ryan said. "I think we'll probably just lean on those experts, the medical people."
The Bills are 31st in passing yards and tied for 28th in passing touchdowns with 10. Watkins had 15 touchdowns and 2,000 yards in his first 29 games in a Bills uniform and Ryan knows just what kind of spark Watkins can provide if he is cleared to play.
"I think I speak on behalf of every Buffalo Bill fan we are hoping he can play some," Ryan said. "But we will see. We will see how it goes. We obviously won't put him out there if he is in no condition to play."
2 – Platoon to continue at RT and nickel corner
Ryan indicated on Monday that the platoon system seen at two key positions on Sunday may continue going forward.
At the right tackle spot, playing time was split right down the middle. Jordan Mills, who has started all 10 games this season, had 35 snaps, while Seantrel Henderson got 34. Although it was Henderson's first action of the season, he is no stranger to Buffalo's offensive line, starting 26 games combined in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Ryan said that he was pleased with the play of both tackles, both at their usual positions and as tight ends.
"I thought both of them played pretty well. They weren't perfect, but I thought both of them played well for us," Ryan said. "There were times we put one of them in as a tight end. I think Jordan Mills went in there a few times, I think Seantrel did as well. Sometimes it is good getting those big bodies out there. Obviously it limits you in you are not going to run a route with those guys necessarily but they can protect the quarterback and it gives you a bigger body at the point of attack."
Even with Ryan Groy getting his first start at center for the injured Eric Wood and the shuffling at tackle, the offensive line cleared the way for 183 rushing yards and only allowed two sacks.
At the nickel corner position, playing time wasn't so equally split. Nickell Robey-Coleman lost his starting role to rookie Kevon Seymour in practice last week, and only played in 15 snaps. Seymour had 40 snaps, and really helped the Bills secondary have one of their best games on the season.
One of the keys heading for Buffalo was to prevent Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert from having a big game. With Seymour have a four-inch height advantage over Robey-Coleman, he was able to help better cover Eifert in that matchup.
Eifert was limited to three catches for 37 yards; the Bills had allowed three touchdowns to opposing tight ends against Seattle and New England.
Ryan said matchups will dictate who goes in on certain players between the two USC products.
"I think when you look at it on certain matchups, we'll take a look at it," Ryan said. "You know, we played both of those guys. But sometimes matchups might be more favorable to play Seymour than they are Robey-Coleman and vice versa."
**3 – Week 11 MVP
Who was the star of the game on Sunday? It was Dan Carpenter, according to Ryan. The Bills kicker nailed three field goals and an extra point, accounting for 10 of the team's 16 points against the Bengals, and did his job on a day where NFL kickers were in the spotlight for the wrong reason.
There were 12 missed extra points in the NFL on Sunday--including two by Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent--to set a new record for most missed in a single week.
Nugent's misses off of the goalpost were especially costly, as the Bengals could've been in a position to kick a field goal on the game's final drive instead of needing to score a touchdown.
Carpenter has hit 25 of his 27 extra points attempts on the season.
Even bigger than the extra points was Carpenter's field goal from 54 yards to put the Bills ahead, 13-12, in the third quarter. Then he added a 20-yard field goal in the fourth to make it a four-point game.
Ryan said that he wasn't even sure if he was going to go for the 54-yard field goal at first, but Carpenter's confidence pushed him over the edge.
"That's as deep as it was going and it was funny because he ran out there with no hesitation," Ryan said. "I'm debating and he answered that question. He ran on the field and we would have had 12 on the field because he was out there. He was a confident man and he killed it. It was a huge, huge kick for us."
Carpenter is still below his career average, only making 77 percent of his field goals this season, but has a knack for turning his numbers around in the second half of seasons throughout his career.
With the 54-yard field goal, Carpenter has the new Bills record for most field goals over 50 yards. He now has 14, breaking the previous mark of 13 held by Steve Christie.