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Top 7 storylines for Bills-Packers this week


It's five straight victories against the NFC North for the Buffalo Bills, and a chance to add a sixth this week when they travel to Green Bay.

The Bills are 8-4 all-time against the Packers.

Here are the top storylines this week, as Buffalo gets set for the game:


The daily practice updates will be significant for both the Bills and the Packers this week. At the top of Buffalo's list will be running back LeSean McCoy, who did not play in Minnesota last Sunday. McCoy suffered rib cartilage damage two games ago and he's likely to be limited in practice all week. The Bills could use a jolt from their running game and the Packers are vulnerable, giving up almost 90 yards per game on the ground. Sean McDermott expects defensive end Shaq Lawson back for practice this week, but there's concern now about another defensive end, Trent Murphy, who left the Vikings game with an ankle injury.

For the Packers, it's all about quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has hobbled around the last two games after suffering a sprained knee in Green Bay's opener. Rodgers has not had the mobility he's known for the last two weeks. But NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger says he's not a statue either.

"He's gonna battle this MCL sprain," Baldinger told One Bills Drive, after calling Green Bay's loss to Washington on national radio last Sunday. "He's got the brace. If he gets quick pressure in his face he's going to go down, he's not going to try to fight it or escape. He does have mobility, he still has that incredible feel for the pocket and where to go. But he's limping from start to finish in this game."


On paper, the Green Bay defense poses less of a challenge than the Minnesota defense did a week ago. And that's good for the Bills, who still need to establish some offensive consistency.

Against the Vikings, Buffalo scored on its first five offensive possessions. But the offense received 25 yards via penalty on their first touchdown drive, and cashed in on Minnesota fumbles, taking advantage of short fields, on their next two scoring drives.

Allen and the Bills need to pick up first downs and sustain offensive drives. After three 3-and-out offensive series in the second half last week, the Bills have now gone 3-and-out on 54 percent of their drives this season. They're on pace to have the highest rate of 3-and-out drives for any NFL team in the last 15 years.

The return of McCoy would help. And Allen needs to continue the progress he's made reading coverages and delivering the ball on time.


Someone flipped the switch on the Buffalo defense at halftime of the Chargers game two weeks ago.

The first six quarters the Bills defense played this year, they gave up 75 points and 10 touchdowns. The last six, starting midway through the Chargers game, they've given up nine points, one touchdown.

Whether it was Leslie Frazier or Sean McDermott calling the defensive signals, it worked on the field. The Bills seem especially strong on run defense. They're ranked fifth in the league against the run, with Minnesota only rushing six times for 14 yards.


Green Bay got a boost when second year running back Aaron Jones returned from suspension last week, but its biggest offensive threat is through the air.

With Rodgers big arm and big release, the Bills pass defense will be challenged all day this week. Green Bay has big targets at wide receiver in Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Geronimo Allison.

Sunday will be Aaron Rodgers third all- time start against the Bills. Four years ago, he was held in check on a December day in Orchard Park. Rodgers went 17-42 for 185 yards and threw two interceptions in a Green Bay loss at Buffalo. In 2010, he was on fire, throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns in a week two Packers victory at Green Bay.


Rodgers newest target this year has history against the Bills. Tight end Jimmy Graham, the 6-foot-7-inch former college basketball standout, probably can't wait to see the Bills this week.

Two years ago, when he was with Seattle, Graham was the biggest star on Monday night against the Bills, catching eight passes for 103 yards, two of them for touchdowns. And those touchdown receptions were spectacular one-handed grabs, with Bills defensive backs holding one of his arms on each one of the catches.

Graham has had a relatively quiet start to his first year in Green Bay. He's probably looking to make some noise this week.


It would figure that Bills safety Micah Hyde would play a role in keeping Jimmy Graham in check. Hyde probably welcomes the assignment, especially as he returns to Lambeau. Micah Hyde was a fifth round draft pick of the Packers in 2013 and played the first four years of his career for Green Bay.

He's coming off his first Pro Bowl bid with the Bills last year and has to be eager to show the Packers what they're missing.

After five interceptions last year, Hyde is still looking for his first of 2018.


Both the Bills and the Packers have picked up more than their share of penalties through the first three weeks. Buffalo had an even-dozen infractions last week in Minnesota and the Bills are second in the NFL, averaging 9.3 penalties per game.

The Packers average 8.7 penalties per game with 11 last Sunday in Washington. They're the fourth-most penalized team in the league.

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