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SCOUTING REPORT

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Scouting Report - Week 3: Bills vs. Vikings 

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Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Kelvin Benjamin vs. Xavier Rhodes
The former college teammates will square off on Sunday. Rhodes surrendered eight receptions for 64 yards to Davante Adams last week, including a touchdown.

2 – Trent Murphy vs. Rashod Hill The free agent addition began to flash last week after a frustrating training camp and preseason. Coming off the edge against the Minnesota right tackle, who is coming off an ankle injury could provide the Bills pass rush with an advantageous matchup.

3 – Tre’Davious White vs. Stefon Diggs Diggs has a sudden burst to his game that leaves most corners playing catch up, while he's playing catch with his quarterback. A proven playmaker, Diggs will be a much different assignment than Keenan Allen was last week.

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – First down defense
Believe it or not, Buffalo’s defense on first down has been slightly better than that of the Vikings. The Bills will have to be at their best early in series to put Kirk Cousins in unfavorable down and distance sitautions.

Best advantage - Kicking game The Bills have a reliable veteran kicker in Stephen Hauschka while the Vikings are trying to regroup after a disastrous outing that cost Daniel Carlson his job. Dan Bailey is a good veteran pickup, but getting the kick operation down in less than a week won’t be easy. Buffalo’s new punter Corey Bojorquez has also been more productive than Minnesota’s Matt Wile.

Bills Number 1 Must
Fast start
Buffalo’s offense has to get out of the gate quicker this week for a host of reasons. First, to keep the Minnesota home crowd from becoming an early factor in the game. Second, to enable OC Brian Daboll to stick with his original game plan, instead of having to scrap it because they’re behind early. And finally, to get ahead on the scoreboard for the first time this season.

Scouting Eye
New addition, familiar face
He might be a new add to Minnesota’s defensive front, but he’s an all too familiar face for the Bills. Former Jets DT Sheldon Richardson is now in the middle of the Vikings defensive line. Through two games he’s been menace for the opposing offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, Richardson led all interior linemen in Week 1 with seven quarterback pressures on 30 pass rush snaps. Last week at Green Bay, he had a half sack and three quarterback hits.

Cousins blends in early Kirk Cousins was signed for big, big money by Minnesota this past offseason. In a Week 2 battle with Aaron Rodgers, Cousins went toe to toe with him. Cousins threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns, with his only interception coming on a pass that bounced off his receiver’s hands. Perhaps even more impressive is he threw for 293 yards after halftime and helped the Vikings overcome a 20-7 third quarter deficit by scoring 22 points in the fourth to force overtime.

Deadly combo They need no introduction, but the combination of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs has been downright lethal. Last week alone the pair of receivers combined for 21 receptions for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Thielen is currently tied for the NFL lead in third down catches. Diggs and Thielen are also clutch in crunch time. Last week down eight points with under a minute to play, Thielen made a 22-yard touchdown reception and Diggs followed with the game-tying two-point conversion.

Special teams struggles Minnesota’s kicker situation was well documented after rookie Daniel Carlson’s three missed kicks were directly responsible for the Vikings managing just an overtime tie with the Packers, instead of a win. Carlson lost his job this past Monday, but he wasn’t alone in his miscues.

Devante Downs missed a block on a punt play and the Packers blocked the kick and recovered it for a touchdown. Minnesota’s return game was also guilty of some poor decision making. Return man Marcus Sherels should’ve been more willing to take a fair catch, but instead lost yardage on a pair of returns last week.

Quick hook Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is as serious as they come, but even he has taken it up a notch this season with a quick hook for any player who makes mental or physical errors. The aforementioned Devante Downs was benched after missing a block on punt team. WR Laquon Treadwell was benched after a couple of dropped passes, including one that was intercepted. Nickel CB Mackensie Alexander was sent to the sideline after giving up a third down conversion, committing a penalty and a 34-yard pass to Jimmy Graham in the span of a couple of series. CB Trae Waynes was another benching victim after he missed a tackle on a 22-yard pass play.

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the week
“You’ve got to be mentally tough in this business. The mental toughness is doing what’s right for the team when everything’s not perfect. I appreciate how hard the guys are working and we’re working our tails off to get it right.”
--Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll

Stat of the week Charles Clay has 20 receptions for 252 yards and a touchdown in four career games vs. the NFC North.

Milestones in reach Micah Hyde needs two tackles for 300 in his career.
LeSean McCoy, with eight yards, will move into sole possession of sixth place in rushing yards in team history.

Kyle Williams will be appearing in his 170th career game with the Bills on Sunday. It will move him into a tie with Kent Hull for the 10th most games every played by a Bill.

Final note Buffalo is 3-1 against Minnesota when playing in September.

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