What They're Saying

What they're saying | National experts remain optimistic on the Bills at the 2021 midseason mark

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Buffalo Bills Week 10 practice, November 10, 2021. Photo by Bill Wippert

AFC Playoff Projection

#1 Seed - Buffalo Bills (PROJECTED AFC EAST CHAMPIONS)

Wins: 11.8

Current record: 5-3

Next Gen Stats shows that in the Bills' wins, Josh Allen has only been pressured on 22.2 percent of dropbacks. In losses, this number balloons to 32.9 percent. There have been four games in which Allen has faced pressure on more than 26 percent of dropbacks this season, and three resulted in losses. The good news? There is only one remaining opponent for Buffalo that ranks in the top 10 in pressure rate: the Panthers, who the Bills play in Week 15, rank eighth.

Super Bowl LVI prediction

Albert Breer: Packers 38, Bills 35. MVP: Aaron Rodgers

I'll stick with my preseason prediction. Buffalo needs more balance on offense and better play from its line but has as much upside right now as any team going into the second half of the season. And to me, the way the Packers hung in there in Kansas City was indicative of how good that team is. Even with subpar quarterback play, they were right there to the end, which shows you how good they can be with Rodgers.

Josh Allen currently sixth in MVP ranking

In the big picture, though, Allen has been just about what we would have expected this season. His accuracy has dipped a bit after making a record-setting leap between 2019 and 2020, but he's still completing 65.5% of his throws, which is right in line with his expected completion percentage. That's fine. More problematic is that he's not picking up chunks of yardage as frequently; he's averaging just 7.0 yards per attempt, which is below the league average and down from 7.9 yards per attempt a year ago. His otherworldly connection with Stefon Diggs hasn't been quite as consistent in 2021, with Diggs topping 100 yards in a game only once so far.

Allen has made up for that drop-off by lowering his interception rate, having thrown just three picks before Sunday's fiasco. He has generated 21.6 EPA on 57 carries as a runner, nearly matching what he has done as a passer. He is still one of the league's best quarterbacks, and I would hardly be surprised if he took out this ugly performance on the Jets in Week 10. As of right now, though, Allen has taken a step backward versus the guy who blew away the league a year ago. The loss to Jacksonville knocks him out of the top five and into sixth place.

Final record prediction

12-5 - There will be a couple of more stumbling blocks along the way against some top opponents on the Bills' schedule, but Buffalo will finish with one of the best records in the conference.

AFC Playoff Projection

#2 Seed: (AFC East Champion) Buffalo Bills

The Bills might not be projected to get the top seed in the AFC, but the computer still seems to like them the most in this conference. According to SportsLine, the Bills have a 15.71% chance of winning the Super Bowl this year, which isn't just the highest number in the AFC, but it's also the highest in the NFL, which means the computer views the Bills as the current Super Bowl favorite.

High complements for Josh Allen midway through the season

Rich Gannon: I think Josh Allen is the perfect quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. He's tough, he's gritty. he's durable, and he's been consistent. … I'm not comparing him to Jim Kelly, but he's got some of that toughness. He's got some of that Midwestern love that you have, with a little bit of moxie. A guy that's willing to play in terrible weather. Look at his production, 112 touchdowns in his first 50 starts … that to me is impressive and it says a lot about what the Bills have in Josh Allen.

Trent Green: That is why Josh Allen, I consider, is one of the top five quarterbacks if not one of the top three quarterbacks in the NFL. Green said. He gets it done with his arm; he gets it done with his feet. He's a phenomenal player, in terms of his accuracy is what jumped out to me. … So, I'm really impressed with the way Josh Allen has continued to play and put up consistent numbers week in and week out.

Midseason First-Round Rookie Report Card

30. Edge Gregory Rousseau, Buffalo Bills

The biggest question surrounding defensive end prospect Gregory Rousseau was whether his production from a standout redshirt freshman campaign would translate since the then-20-year-old decided to opt-out of the 2020 campaign.

Rousseau has started every game for the Buffalo Bills this season as part of the team's deep defensive line rotation. He's tied for the team lead with three sacks. Still, the young defender is clearly a work in progress with the potential to be a consistent disruptive force.

In particular, the 6'6", 266-pound defender has held up well against the run. Overall, he's starting to get into a groove over the last two weeks. Pro Football Focus graded him as the Bills' second-best defender in Weeks 8 and 9 against the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively.

The idea of Rousseau needing time to create some type of impact after only one season of top-level production very early in this collegiate career has been proved false. Rousseau is already one of the Bills' better defenders, even if he's not a polished product.

Grade: B+

2021 Playoff Prediction

Wild Card RoundPrediction: (6)Chiefs 27 @ (3) Bills 37

Divisional Round Prediction: (3) Bills 28, @ (2) Titans 26

AFC Championship Game Prediction: (3) Bills 33 @ (1) Ravens 24

Super Bowl LVI-No. 3 Buffalo Bills (12-5)vs.No. 1 Los Angeles Rams (14-3)

Like the Buccaneers last year, the Rams will play for the Lombardi Trophy at their home stadium.

While Matthew Stafford has a more extensive resume than Josh Allen, neither quarterback has played in the Super Bowl. Both offenses may take as much as an entire half to settle down. Once that happens, we'll see dueling passing attacks rack up yards and points.

Nevertheless, the defense that manages to generate the most pocket pressure will win this game. Based on that premise, the Rams have an edge in this matchup. The Bills don't have the personnel to make Stafford uncomfortable in the pocket.

Buffalo added pass-rushers in the 2021 draft, selecting Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham in the first and second rounds, respectively. The former had a strong start to the season, but he's logged just five tackles in the last three outings. The latter hasn't been an impact playmaker with five tackles, one for loss and 1.5 sacks in two games.

Allen will work a lot harder to establish a rhythm in the pocket. The Rams lead the league in sacks (28). Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd rank within the top 15 in quarterback pressures. Defensive end Jerry Hughes leads the Bills in that stat category, and he's tied for 32nd.

As the old cliche goes, defense wins championships, and the Rams have a unit capable of stealing the spotlight at SoFi Stadium.

Prediction: Rams 30, Bills 27

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