1 - White takes PFF's Rookie of the Year
It seemed each game someone new was stepping up for the Bills this season, but there were some players who performed at a high level week in and week out. Here are the team's top performers from the regular season.
Tre'Davious White (91.6), Micah Hyde (86.4), Jordan Poyer (86.1), LeSean McCoy (86.0), and E.J. Gaines (85.9) were the Bills top-five players through 17 weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. White finished 2017 as the team's highest-graded player, and he also finished as the highest rookie in the NFL. That resulted in him winning PFF's Rookie of the Year.
White stepped in right from day one and showed that he didn't just belong in this league, but he was ready to dominate it… He led all corners with 1,093 defensive snaps played, and he finished 13 games with a grade of at least 70.0.
Opposing quarterbacks had just a 68.2 passer rating when targeting White in coverage, and he was directly responsible for an incompletion on 23.4 percent of the targets into his coverage, well over the league average of 15.0 percent. The Bills are in the playoffs for the first time this century and PFF's rookie of the year is a big reason why.
Each of Buffalo's starters in the secondary was ranked in the top five. McCoy was the only player on offense to appear on the list.
It says a lot about the team's secondary that each player has such a significant impact on the field. It's additionally impressive that it's each player's first season in Buffalo.
For Gaines, he led the Bills with three forced fumbles this season. The team also has a record of 8-3 in the games he played in.
Poyer's been a pleasant addition to the back end, and has really turned it on as of late. As a result, he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for December. He had interceptions in the final three games of the season and was the only player in the league with two sacks and five INTs.
For Hyde, he earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time this season. In October, he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month. Hyde and Poyer are the first safety duo in league history to earn player of the month honors in the same season.
Poyer explained the recipe for success for each of Buffalo's starters in the secondary.
"It's huge. It all started in OTA's and when Gaines came in during training camp. He came in and it was almost like instant family," said Poyer. "That's kind of what we preach. We're a brotherhood in there. We work hard, we work with each other, and we study film together off the field. It's a great group of guys and its fun to play with."
2 – Stats that hold the Bills attention
Stats can be extremely helpful, but they can also be misleading. Buffalo's coaching staff makes sure to hone in on the numbers that result in wins or losses.
"I think what I've learned over the past five years is points per game is a big stat. Yards per game is wishy-washy because if they drive the field, but kick a field goal you can keep them from scoring more points," said safety Micah Hyde. "There aren't many stats that we pay attention to, but there are a few we look at like takeaways, third down, and quarterback rating."
Buffalo will take on Jacksonville this Sunday in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. When assessing the Jaguars proficiency in some of those areas, one can see why the Bills have a lot of respect for Jacksonville going into this game.
When it comes to points per game, the Jags thrive. They score 26.1 points per game, which ranks fifth in the NFL. On the other side of the ball, they allow 16.8 points per game, ranking second in the league. Their defense also has 33 takeaways on the season, which is the second most in the league.
One area where Jacksonville struggles is on third down. They convert on 37.4-percent of their third down attempts, ranking 20th in the league. Buffalo gets the best of this week's opponent in that category, as they capitalize on 41.9-percent of third downs, ranking sixth in the league.
The battle of the quarterbacks is also pretty close in this weekend's Wild Card matchup. The Jags signal-caller, Blake Bortles, has a QB rating of 55.4, which ranks 12th in the league. For the Bills, Tyrod Taylor has a QBR of 53.1, ranking 14th in the league.
With Sunday's highly-anticipated game just a day away, head coach, Sean McDermott, shared how much he keeps an eye on stats.
"I do to a point, but there's some that are more important than others. There's some that I determine to be critical stats that really correlate to wins or losses. Those are the ones that I more concern myself and ourselves with," said McDermott. "Sometimes you get too big into stats, in particular, the ones that really don't correlate to winning and losing. At the end of the day, the story is told by turning on the film and watching the tape."
3 - Chris Berman's bold prediction for Sunday
The list of Bills fans goes on and on, but the legendary Chris Berman may be one of the most iconic. The long-time host (1985-2016) of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown is thrilled to see Buffalo back in the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Almost a week has passed by since the team's epic berth in the postseason. Berman joined the John Murphy Show on Friday to share why Bills fans should be optimistic for this Sunday's game.
"The percentage of winning this game, I think is much greater than the percentage last Sunday morning of getting into the playoffs," said Berman. "We all agree on that, right?"
The Jaguars, who are champions of the AFC South, are no dud. They've taken the league by storm for a majority of the season. Though, they ended the regular season on a two-game losing streak.
Berman made his famous 'Swami Says' pick for the Wild Card game between the Bills and Jaguars.
"I think it's a game Buffalo can win. The Swami would definitely say Buffalo," he said. "Will they win the game? I really think they can. I really do."
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