1. Bills prep for a second straight NFC West powerhouse
The Bills are coming off of a win against Seattle and have a chance to pick up two-straight wins against NFC West opponents. On the other side, Arizona faced a tough loss to the Dolphins last week and are trying avoid dropping two straight games to AFC East opponents.
The NFC West currently owns the most wins in the NFC and the second most in the NFL with 20 combined wins. The AFC East has 15 combined wins, which is the second lowest win total in the AFC. According to tankathon.com the Cardinals have the ninth-toughest schedule remaining, while the Bills have the 11th.
Buffalo is currently 2-0 against NFC West teams this season with the Cardinals and 49ers remaining on the schedule. Arizona is 1-1 against AFC East teams with Buffalo and the Patriots remaining. Bills head coach Sean McDermott knows his team must dial up a great game plan as they get ready to take on the NFL's best offense in terms of total yards per game.
"I think we have to come back with a chip on our shoulder this week and put a good week of practice in," McDermott said. "Have great clarity around how we're going to go about game-planning and the game plan and the expectation level. We still have a lot of football yet to be played, and we're going to face a good Arizona team out at their spot. We're going to have to travel across the country here, so we have to get back to work."
2. A tale of two mobile quarterbacks
Every recent NFL Draft brings at least one new mobile quarterback to the league. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was one of the first in this new wave of dual threat quarterbacks the NFL is experiencing. Second-year Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray is one of the newest quarterbacks in the league who poses as a threat on the ground and in the air. The Bills are set to face their third-straight quarterback who can do damage with their ability to run the football (Cam Newton in Week 8, Wilson in Week 9).
Murray currently leads the NFL in quarterback rushing yards with 543 and rushing touchdowns with eight. Murray is one yard away from tying his rushing yards total from his rookie season. Since 2019, Murray has 1,087 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns, while Bills quarterback Josh Allen has 751 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.
Allen hasn't had to stack up rushing yards as much in his third season, but that doesn't mean the defense won't respect his legs. Allen has been able to rely on his added pass-catching weapons, which has made for less yards on the ground from him. He still ranks high among quarterbacks ranking sixth with 241 rushing yards. Allen has had 14 games in his career with a rushing and passing touchdown, which is a new franchise record.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said even though they've faced quarterbacks that like to run, Arizona's offense and Murray are much different.
"The fact that it's so different than what you face on a normal basis — the tempo, how fast they're going, the style of offense, running the quarterback as much as they do, you don't see that week in and week out," Frazier said. "You have to prepare a little bit differently than you would for most NFL offenses. That'll be the challenge for us in our preparation as we get ready for the game. Can we simulate the speed of their offense and also some of the things they do with the quarterback run game? If we can get that handled in practice, helping us with our preparation, that'll help us on Sunday as well."
3. Two of the best offseason acquisitions take the field in the desert
Arizona and Buffalo made two of the biggest trades in this offseason with the Cardinals trading for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and the Bills acquiring receiver Stefon Diggs. Each team gave up significant draft capital to get those deals done. No matter what they traded away, it seems to be paying off for both teams.
Diggs and Hopkins both rank top 5 in receiving yards and receptions. Diggs leads the NFL right now with 63 receptions and 813 receiving yards. Hopkins ranks third in receptions with 60 and fifth in receiving yards with 734. Both teams' point averages are up from last season, and Diggs and Hopkins both play a part in that success. The Bills are averaging 7.3 more points a game than last year, and the Cardinals are averaging 6.7 more points a game than last season.
The two receivers are highlighted in an ESPN article detailing the best offseason moves.
Hopkins is on pace for 1,400-plus yards, and no matter how much Kyler Murray runs or Christian Kirk gets loose, Hopkins is always a stabilizing force (see: Miami corner Xavien Howard's four penalties Sunday).
"He's perfect for that offense because they can line him up all over, in the slot or outside, and he can win on broken plays, which suits Kyler's skill set," an NFC exec said.
Diggs brought his edge to Buffalo. He wanted to be a No. 1, and he's validating that desire.
"He's so versatile," an NFC coordinator said. "You can put him anywhere on the field, and he wants the ball. He wants to be the guy."
4. Tre'Davious White vs. DeAndre Hopkins take three
Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White will face wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the third time in his career on Sunday. Whether or not White followed him in previous games, Hopkins was limited to under 100 yards in each game. In 2018, Hopkins had five catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Last season, the receiver had six catches for 90 yards. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said they are not sure if White will follow Hopkins on Sunday, but the defense must limit the explosive plays.
"They've faced each other number of times over the last few years," Frazier said. "Tre'Davious has had his wins, DeAndre has had some success as well, so it's going to be a terrific battle. We'll determine whether or not we want to travel with DeAndre or not. We'll make that decision as the week goes on, as we learn more about their offense and how they're using him.
"Tre will have tremendous confidence like he always does when he goes against top receivers, and looking forward to him having a really good game. We know DeAndre is going to make some catches, they're going to throw it to him enough to give him some opportunities. You can't get discouraged when he catches a few balls, you just don't want to give up the explosive plays."
5. Going into the bye week strong
The Bills have one more game to play before their Week 11 bye. Last year, the Bills had an early Week 6 bye with 11 games remaining after the bye. This year, Buffalo has only six games remaining after their bye. A late bye week will give the team time to rest before they finish out the season strong, and hopefully push through the playoffs.
In Sean McDermott's postgame locker room speech after the Seahawks win, McDermott asked his team for everything they have before the bye.
"You have to stay focused," McDermott said. "You have one game before the bye. Can we stay disciplined and challenge ourselves for one game at a time? One week, I need your best."