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Top 7 storylines for Bills vs. Eagles | Week 8

Jerry Hughes (above) needs 1.5 sacks to reach 50 for his career.
Jerry Hughes (above) needs 1.5 sacks to reach 50 for his career.

It's game two of Buffalo's three-game homestand. And it's a rare matchup with an NFC East team the Bills and their fans don't see very often. Here are some of the storylines to follow this week as the Eagles get set for a visit to Buffalo:

1. DON'T EXPECT ANY 'GUARANTEES' THIS WEEK

The Eagles have lost their last two game and Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson is catching flak after "guaranteeing" his team would beat Dallas last Sunday. They lost decisively, 37-10 and Pederson says he was trying to show faith in his group.

"I just felt like we had a lot of confidence in the football team, a lot of trust, a lot of faith in the guys," Pederson said Monday. "We had a good week of preparation. Quite honestly, after a game like this, we all have to kind of step back and look in the mirror, especially myself. It starts with me. This is one of those games that I take personal from that standpoint. We didn't play well. That's personal on me so I've got to get that fixed."

2. ALLEN'S GOT 'CLUTCH' DOWN, NOW HE NEEDS CONSISTENCY

Josh Allen has only 17 starts on his NFL resume, but it's clear he thrives in crucial, game-deciding situations. Allen led another fourth quarter comeback against Miami, and he's tied with Joe Ferguson with five fourth quarter comebacks by a Bills quarterback in their first two seasons. Allen has done it this year against the Jets, the Bengals, and now the Dolphins.

"Josh has done a good job to this point in his young career of being able to respond in adverse situations," Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said about Allen. "A long way to go, but I think his preparation and his work ethic leads to some of those things that happen later on in games, whether it be the fourth quarter, or the second half. He's a young player that prepares himself well, and when he's put in the moment, he's done a good job of executing. "

Daboll says he's now looking for more consistent production from Allen and his offense.

3. CLUTCH PERFORMER ON DEFENSE

Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White is getting league-wide recognition this year for his play and his propensity for big plays. He played the lock-down cornerback role against Miami again — the Dolphins threw five passes in his direction and completed one of them for five yards. He intercepted another one.

And now he's become "Big Play-Tre' Day" this year. He had an interception and a forced fumble in the second half against Miami.

"He finds a way to come up with big plays in some tough moments," according to Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. "It just speaks to his intestinal fortitude, his heart, his desire and his confidence that he's a big play guy. He believes that and then he acts on it when he gets an opportunity."

"There's no situation too big for him, no circumstance that scares him," Frazier continued. "You've seen it from the first day – you put him on the best receivers, even as a rookie. And to deal with that and to find ways to make big plays just speaks to his toughness, his mental toughness and his work ethic as well."

4. BUFFALO OFFENSE TAKES ITS TIME

The Bills offense would love to develop a quick-strike scoring dimension against the Eagles. That would fit in nicely with the way Buffalo works the long field to find the end zone this year.

Buffalo had a 98-yard touchdown drive against Miami in the fourth quarter to take the lead. They had a 98-yard drive against the Giants also, in week two. And 11 of the team's 13 touchdowns this year have been 70 yards or longer.

5. RUN AND STOP THE RUN

There's a bit of irresistible force versus immovable object in this week' Bills-Eagles matchup. Buffalo has the NFL's seventh-ranked rushing attack; the Eagles are sixth against the run.

Buffalo's seventh ranked rush offense averages 136 yards per game. They're testing the workload for veteran Frank Gore and rookie Devin Singletary again, now that Singletary has returned to the lineup. Against Miami, Gore had 11 carries on 54 percent of the running back snaps. Singletary received seven carries and 39 percent of the snaps.

The Eagles have given up an average of 89 yards per game on the ground this year. Sean McDermott admires their talent and depth on the defensive front.

"They've got a front that's two-deep and really any defensive coordinator in the league would love to have any one of them really, just in terms of how deep they are up front," McDermott said this week.

6. HOME IS WHERE THE NOISE IS

It's the second time in three seasons the Bills have played three in a row at home. In 2017, the Bills finished 1-2 in a December home stretch.

Defending their dirt has become even more important this year after Buffalo's good start. And game two of this year's three-game homestand means Bills players will be looking for their usual assist from the crowd at New Era Field.

"I love that crowd, I love playing at home," Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said this week on One Bills Live. "Even when we're away it feels like a home game. The noise makes it even hard for me — I'm the 'mike' (middle linebacker). I'm trying to get the call and I'm holding my head set because I can't really hear it. It's amazing. They give us so much juice and energy out there – it's really effective. I know the other team can feel that."

7. LIMITED BUT MEMORABLE HISTORY IN THIS MATCHUP

The Eagles, one of the NFL's flagship franchises, have only made seven visits to Orchard Park for regular season games. Buffalo has won four of them.

And the most memorable may be the December 1990 game, as the Bills were on the way to Super Bowl XXV. It's said to be the day the Bills fully committed to the K-gun offense, as Buffalo opened the game with a no-huddle, fast-paced attack. Jim Kelly threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter of that game, a 30-23 Bills victory.

But the most amazing play was made by Kelly's Philadelphia counterpart, Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham. Down 24-0 going into the second quarter, Cunningham helped the Eagles back into it. The biggest play came in the second quarter, with Philadelphia backed up at their own five-yard line. Cunningham dodged and ducked a heavy pass rush in the end zone, somehow escaping a near-certain sack by Bruce Smith to buy some time. He connected on a 95-yard bomb to Fred Barnett that made it a close game.  One of the most amazing plays in the history of the stadium in Orchard Park.

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