1. Bills will play first game in Allegiant Stadium
The Bills will take their first of three trips to the west coast beginning with a Week 4 visit to Las Vegas to face the Raiders. It will also be Buffalo's first game in Vegas' brand new Allegiant Stadium. The total stadium development cost $1.9 billion. It features 19 million pounds of retractable rolling natural turf and 28,000 tons of structural steel, which is heavier than the Statue of Liberty. Sunday will mark the Raiders second game in their new venue.
Buffalo has a 13-15 record in games played at a stadium for the first time. They've won their last two. The most recent was against Minnesota in 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium, and in 2017 the Bills beat Atlanta in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
It's the Bills first of four games against AFC West teams. The Raiders are second in the division at 2-1, while the Chiefs lead the division. It's a 2,265 mile trip to make it to Las Vegas from Orchard Park. Even though it's a longer road trip than Miami, McDermott said traveling protocols due to COVID-19 will be the same.
"Probably much of the same with respect to all the protocols," McDermott explained. "Like I said before our Miami trip our operations staff does a great job. So we as coaches and players have to concern ourselves with very little on that end and just really focus on the game. So that's what we expect this time. I think we'll probably leave around the same time that we left a couple weeks ago."
The Bills won their first away game of the season against Miami and have won seven of their last nine road games dating back to 2019.
2. Another high-scoring affair?
We saw a high-scoring affair in Week 3's win against the Rams, the two teams combined for 67 points. There's potential to see that again this week against the Raiders. In 2019 the Bills scored more than 30 points just twice, both against the Dolphins. Three games into the 2020 season, Buffalo has already matched last season hitting more than 30 points twice. The Bills rank third in the NFL averaging 31 points per game, they're averaging 10.4 more points per game than the 2019 team.
Las Vegas is tied for eighth averaging 29.3 points per game. Like Buffalo, they've reached the 30-point mark in two of their first three games to start the season. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has thrown for six touchdowns and no interceptions, while Bills quarterback Josh Allen has thrown for 10 touchdowns and one interception. They're both completing passes at a high percentage too— Carr at 74 percent and Allen at 71.1 percent.
Against the Rams, the Bills run defense allowed 167 rushing yards. Bills assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier explained his defense needed to fix things like missed tackles and gap problems quickly because they'll play more teams with talented offensive lines and running backs. Las Vegas has running back Josh Jacobs who has the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL with 252.
"The Raiders have a very good offensive line, one of the biggest, maybe the biggest in the National Football League," Frazier said. "So you like to be stout in the middle of your defense for sure. That means for us that Harrison Phillips is really going to have to step up and make the difference for us. Vernon Butler is going to have to do a really good job for us.
"So we have a rotation going, and the guys that we have there will have to do a good job. Quinton Jefferson is another guy who we have been rotating. We're counting on the guys that we have to stand up and give us what we need in the middle of our defense to be more effective against these inside running teams that we're going to face."
3. Will Josh Allen produce a fourth-straight career game?
Bills quarterback Josh Allen has had three-straight career games to kick off the 2020 season. In Week 1, Allen crossed 300 passing yards off his list of things to accomplish. The third-year quarterback did even more in Week 2. Allen threw for 415 yards and four touchdowns. After the game, Allen became one of four quarterbacks to start a season with 700 passing yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
When Week 3 came around, Allen continued his hot start. He recorded his third-straight game of 300 or more passing yards joining Bills Legend and Hall of Famer Jim Kelly as the only Bills quarterback to pass for that many yards in three consecutive games. Allen also threw for four touchdowns and became the only Bill to do so in back-to-back games. He also became the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 10 touchdowns and rush for two in the first three games of a season.
Sean McDermott has seen a huge amount of growth in his quarterback, and it showed in how he led his team to a comeback win in the fourth quarter. McDermott isn't shocked by the growth because he sees it in practice every day.
"He's got a good set of weapons to work with that work with him, and they have great rapport during the week," McDermott said. "So, I just think it's an example of what happens every day in practice. It's on solid ground. It's not like this happened one time and surprised any of us honestly. If you went in the locker room and asked anyone they would tell you it doesn't surprise them. That's a good thing. It was a tough win in a critical moment, and our guys play well in critical moments and I think that's a good redeemable quality of our football team."
4. Familiar faces on the opposing side
The Raiders have a few familiar faces on their roster who have played for Buffalo in wide receiver Zay Jones, quarterback Nathan Peterman and offensive lineman Richie Incognito. Out of those three, Bills players will see the most from Jones on the field. The receiver has four receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown so far this season.
Buffalo drafted Zay Jones in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft and was traded to the Raiders in October 2019. It'll be the first time Jones faces his old team. During his time in Buffalo, Jones played in 36 games and totaled 90 receptions for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns.
5. Alabama ties
Buffalo and Las Vegas share ties to Alabama. The University of Alabama, that is. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll coached at Alabama as an offensive coordinator in 2017. Bills cornerback Levi Wallace played collegiately at Alabama from 2014 to 2017. The Raiders have two players who also attended Alabama in receiver Henry Ruggs III and running back Josh Jacobs. Daboll and the three were together at Alabama for the 2017 season. The OC shared what makes them impressive young players in the NFL.
"They're obviously on the other side of the ball, but just good young men," Daboll said. "Ruggs is a speed demon. And Josh [Jacobs] was second or third on the depth chart, whatever it may be, but you could tell right from the get-go how special he was. Great teammate, great balance, vision, powerful, fast, has good hands understood the passing game. Henry [Ruggs] just caught touchdowns as a young freshman. Just two good young players, and not surprised by the success that those guys were having."
During the 2017 season in the SEC, Jacobs had 452 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns. Ruggs caught 12 passes for 229 yards and totaled six touchdowns. As a rookie receiver for the Raiders, Ruggs is averaging 14.8 yards per reception through his first three weeks. Jacobs has the fifth-most rushing yards in the league.