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Top 7 storylines to follow for Bills vs. Washington | Week 3

Touchdown Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary (26)Buffalo Bills vs. Washington Redskins at New Era Field, November 3, 2019. Photo by Sara Schmidle

Coming off a 35-0 shutout victory down in Miami the Bills next matchup is against the Washington Football Team in Week 3. This marks the 15th regular-season matchup between the two teams with the Bills leading the regular-season series 9-5.

Here are some of the top storylines for Buffalo's first road game of the season.

1. Head coaching ties

This Sunday's game will be the second regular-season matchup between Sean McDermott and Ron Rivera as head coaches. Rivera's Panthers got the win over McDermott's Bills in their first matchup back in 2017. McDermott and Rivera have a storied history and a lot of respect for one another. The two started coaching together under Andy Reid in Philadelphia from 2001-2003. The two reunited in 2011 when Rivera was hired as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, and he named McDermott his defensive coordinator.

McDermott wouldn't be the head coach he is today without the help of Rivera.

"Ron Rivera has been a huge influence on my career, and he's taught me a lot," McDermott said. "Going to Carolina, I learned a lot in those six years under Ron and his tutelage both in a head coach position and from a defensive standpoint."

Rivera's Panthers went 53-42-1 during the six seasons McDermott was there as defensive coordinator. The two coached in Super Bowl 50 together in 2015 after a 15-1 season. McDermott's respect for Rivera has grown even more since McDermott has become a head coach.

"I always have respect for Ron, and we have a deep friendship, but that respect and admiration has grown immensely," McDermott said. … "And then just in terms of Ron being on the other sideline, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Ron, his family. They're outstanding people, people of high character. Glad he seems to be doing well health-wise and I'm just happy that he's had the success that he's had."

Against Rivera and Washington, McDermott has the opportunity to earn his 40th regular season win as Bills head coach joining only Lou Saban (68) and Marv Levy (112) in team history with 40-plus wins.

2. Another Ron Rivera coaching connection

As well as McDermott and Rivera know each other, Leslie Frazier's relationship with Rivera goes back even further. Rivera and Frazier were teammates together for two seasons in Chicago, and both were members of the 1985 Bears team that won Super Bowl XX.

When Frazier was the head coach at Trinity International, he tried to get Rivera to join his staff after he retired in 1992. Rivera didn't want to coach at the time, but Frazier knew back then that Rivera would be a good coach. Every time the two would see each other, Frazier makes sure to remind Rivera about that.

"Eventually Ron went over and did some quality control work with the Bears," Frazier said.

"Next thing you know, we're both in Philadelphia as assistant coaches and I told him, I said, didn't I try to tell you that you were a coach, man, and one day you're going to be a head coach and a good coach. He said, 'yeah, yeah, I remember you talking to me about that.' So now, every time we get a chance to talk, I do remind him of that, that he owes me some residuals of some sort for getting him into this occupation, for sure," said Frazier jokingly.

3. Ready for a Heinicke

There isn't much tape for the Bills to watch on Taylor Heinicke. He will start his second regular seasn game at quarterback for Washington on Sunday and in the short amount of time he has been on the field, he has looked good. He put up 306 yards against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in the 2020 playoffs and last week, in his first win as a starter, completed 34 of 46 passes for 336 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Heinicke came in off the bench in Week 1 after former Buffalo Bill Ryan Fitzpatrick went down with a hip injury.

4. Can the Bills pass defense shut down Scary Terry?

The Bills pass defense has been solid over the first two weeks of the season and hasn't allowed an opposing receiver to have more than 55 yards receiving. This week will be a tough test with wide receiver Terry McLaurin coming to town. McLaurin had four receptions for 62 yards in Week 1 and had 11 catches for 107 yards and one touchdown in Week 2.

5. Two former Bills returning to Buffalo

Two former Bills players will be returning to Buffalo on Sunday. Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins was a sixth-round pick by the Bills back in 2013. Washington tight end Logan Thomas spent three seasons in Buffalo from 2016-2018. During his time with the Bills, Thomas showed glimpses of what he could provide as a pass-catcher. Through three seasons, Thomas had 19 receptions for 144 yards and one touchdown. The former college quarterback also completed one pass for the Bills for 15 yards. In Thomas's first season in Washington in 2020, he produced a career-high 72 reception for 670 yards and two touchdowns.

6. Brian Daboll's familiarity with Washington's D Line

Washington's defensive line is one of the NFL's most talented position groups as all four linemen were first-round picks. Chase Young, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat have a combined 28 tackles, seven TFLs, 5.0 sacks and one forced fumble throughout two weeks of play. Washington's defensive line has the ability to put constant pressure on Bills quarterback Josh Allen throughout the entire game. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll saw some of the Washington linemen play in college when he was at Alabama in 2017 and he has immense respect for the group. Payne was on Alabama's 2017 team and Allen is also a former Alabama player who Daboll is familiar with.

"I was there with (Daron Payne), he's got good hands, he caught a nice goal-line touchdown pass against Clemson," Daboll said. "Good young man, two really good players. Know the game of football really well, just hold them in high regard and again not being around Jonathan when I was there, just hearing the people in the building talk about him as a person too. Not just the player. High respect to him."

7. Josh Allen has the chance to set another Bills record

Josh Allen has the opportunity to set another franchise record in Sunday's game. With one more rushing touchdown, Allen would have 26 in his career and would break a tie with Jack Kemp for most rushing touchdowns by a Bills quarterback in franchise history.

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