Buffalo is getting ready for their final Monday night game of the regular season as they'll host the Denver Broncos in Week 10. The Bills are coming off a loss but have followed every loss with a win so far this season.
Here are 6 storylines to know for Monday night.
1. Can the Bills get back to their high scoring ways?
The Bills were held to just 18 points against the Bengals in Week 9 as Buffalo scored right away on their first drive but didn't score another TD until the fourth quarter. The group has now been held to under 20 points in three games this season.
So far this season, after each outing where the Bills scored under 20, the following game Buffalo scored at least 25 points.
We've seen the threat this offense can pose to opposing teams as they consistently scored more than 30 points per game to start the season. Buffalo was averaging 41 points per game during Weeks 2 through 4. In the last four weeks, they're averaging 20.25 points per game.
So how does this offense get back to their explosive ways? Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey says it starts with being balanced.
"I think the biggest thing is just making sure we're balanced in our approach and how we're doing when things, we're balanced in how we're attacking teams vertically, intermediate and underneath," Dorsey shared. "I think we've got to make sure that we're stretching all areas of the field. I think that's gonna be an important thing in the pass game. I think in the run game, making sure that we're giving our backs opportunities to get into the second level, and making those guys have to deal with our guys in space."
As the Bills use this week to work on those things, they'll also be preparing for a defense in the Denver Broncos that held the Chiefs to just 9 points in Week 8.
"(The Broncos) are getting some of their younger pass rushers on the field, and they're starting to rush the passer really well," ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky told One Bills Live. "They're communicating way better on the back end. They're not getting nearly as many blown coverages. So, they're playing better defensively."
Even though the Broncos have held teams to an average of 13 points over the last two games, they still rank near the bottom of the NFL in several categories. They're also allowing a league-worst 28.3 points per game through nine weeks of play.
2. Josh Allen on Monday night
The Bills have played in six games on Monday night since Josh Allen became the starting QB. They are 3-3 in those matchups with a chance at getting back to a winning record on MNF with a victory over the Broncos.
So far, their wins have come against the Titans (Week 2, 2022), 49ers (Week 13, 2020) and Patriots (Week 16, 2020). Their losses have come against the Jets (Week 1, 2023), Titans (Week 6, 2020) and Patriots (Week 13, 2021).
Even though they have a .500 record on Monday night, Allen has put up good numbers. He has averaged 2.8 passing touchdowns per game, 291 passing yards per game, has a 70.7% completion percentage and a 109.6 passer rating on the Monday night stage. His best game on MNF came in 2020 against the 49ers when Allen totaled 4 passing touchdowns, 375 passing yards, and 80% completion rate, a 139.1 passer rating and had six completions of at least 20 yards.
This marks Buffalo's last Monday night game of the regular season as they have two total and a chance to go 1-1 on the season with a win.
3. How the Bills and Broncos matchup
The Bills are sitting at 5-4 through nine weeks of play, while the Broncos are 3-5. Buffalo has traded a win and a loss in their last two, while Denver has won their last two.
Here's a look at how the two match up statistically.
Points per game – Bills: 26.67 (5th), Broncos: 21.5 (16th)
Total yards per game – Bills: 370.2 (5th), Broncos: 302.1 (22nd)
Passing yards per game – Bills: 262.1 (5th), Broncos: 185.4 (28th)
Rushing yards per game – Bills: 108.1 (16th), Broncos: 116.8 (11th)
Red zone efficiency – Bills: 68.6% (3rd), Broncos: 53.6% (16th)
Turnover margin – Bills: 0 (tied for 12th), Broncos: 0 (t-12th)
Points allowed per game – Bills: 17.8 (5th), Broncos: 28.3 (t-31st, worst)
Total yards allowed per game – Bills: 334 (17th), Broncos: 405.9 (32nd)
Passing yards allowed per game – Bills: 219.6 (14th), Broncos: 251.8 (26th)
Rushing yards allowed per game – Bills: 114.4 (18th), Broncos: 154.1 (32nd)
Takeaways – Bills: 14 (t-6th), Broncos: 12 (t-16th)
Opponent red zone efficiency – Bills: 44.8% (7th), Broncos: 50% (t-11th)
4. Next man up mentality for Buffalo's defense
The Bills defense unfortunately suffered more injuries in last week's game against the Bengals. Terrel Bernard (in concussion protocol), Micah Hyde (stinger), Christian Benford (hamstring) and Dane Jackson did not finish Sunday night's game.
Sean McDermott spoke to media on Monday afternoon but didn't provide a timeline on each player's return.
"The news on Dane at this point is he should be fine," McDermott said. "The other three, we'll see."
With the first full practice of the week not until Thursday, there are still a lot of unknowns at this time. The defense will once again head into this week's game planning with a next man up mentality.
"It's so important that we prioritize developing our depth, and that starts in the offseason," assistant head coach and defensive line coach Eric Washington said. "It's an ongoing process as you go throughout the season because of player availability, who's available, who isn't? If they're here, we always operate with the mindset that at a certain point these guys are going to be on the field, competing in live action. And, these are the people we're going to depend on to give us a chance to win."
Thankfully the defense has a couple new players to depend on in cornerback Rasul Douglas and defensive tackle Linval Joseph. The two arrived in Buffalo last week and even though they had a short week of practice, they both saw action against the Bengals. Douglas played 60% of the snaps and Joseph played for 43%.
"Rasul is exactly what we thought he would be," Washington explained. "A linear player, someone who could really be disruptive at the line of scrimmage, understands route combinations. And similar to Linval, came in and really got a hold of the game plan and was able to go out and execute at a high level. So, kudos to both of those guys for the way that they came in and the fact they were able to help us and to contribute in a positive fashion on such short notice."
5. Keeping a winning record at home
Buffalo has been fun to watch in Orchard Park this season as they've got a 4-0 record at Highmark Stadium. Because their London matchup is considered a 'home' game by the NFL, they technically have a 4-1 home record but are still undefeated when playing at Highmark.
They could keep that home record looking pretty great in front of Bills Mafia with a win on Monday night. These wins have been made possible because Buffalo has been stellar statistically in these games.
In home games (London game included), the Bills are averaging 28.8 points per game, 395.2 total yards per game and are scoring touchdowns on 77.3% of their red zone trips.
The defense on the other hand is allowing just 16.4 points per game, has picked up seven takeaways and is allowing touchdowns in the red zone just 43.8% of the time in five home games this season.
Josh Allen has also been money in home games. He's averaging 3.2 touchdowns per game, 289.2 passing yards per game, has a 75% completion percentage and a 117.5 passer rating.
6. A look at the conference standings
As we are now past the halfway mark of the season, it's time to take a look at where Buffalo ranks in the division and conference.
Heading into Week 10, the Bills are currently second in the AFC East. They're one game behind the Dolphins who are in first place with a 6-3 record. The Jets are third and the Patriots are last.
The Bills still have to face the Jets, Patriots and Dolphins once more before the end of the regular season. Their next divisional matchup will be Week 11 when they host the Jets. Miami is 2-1, Buffalo is 1-2, the Jets are 1-1 and the Patriots are 2-2 against the division.
When looking at the conference, the Bills are currently eighth. That means they're just outside of the playoff picture as things stand.
Here's how the seven before them rank.
- Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
- Baltimore Ravens (7-2)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (6-2)
- Miami Dolphins (6-3)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
- Cleveland Browns (5-3)
- Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)
The Bills are currently 2-4 against the AFC but have a chance to pick up another win with a victory over the Broncos. Kansas City is the only team who has five wins against AFC teams so far this season.
The Bills have some tough opponents ahead like the Eagles (8-1) and Chiefs (7-2), but they're not the only team who will face talented opponents over the next few weeks. For example, the Bengals have the Texans, Ravens, Steelers and Jaguars coming up. The Jaguars have the 49ers, Bengals and Ravens over the next five weeks. And, the Browns have games against the Ravens, Steelers and Jaguars ahead.
Lots can change in the second half of the season, so it'll be interesting to see how these standings shift around over the next several weeks.