3 Keys: Bills vs. Vikings


As the Bills look to get back above .500 and keep pace with the Patriots at one game back of the lead in the AFC East, they will welcome the Minnesota Vikings to Ralph Wilson Stadium in a matchup Sunday afternoon. In what would seem to be an easy game for Buffalo, they will need some things to go right. Mainly, not let the rookie Teddy Bridgewater take the game over. Here are the three keys to Buffalo victory:

1) Teddy Bridgewater vs. Bills Secondary 

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  • Bridgewater has been spotty in his three games as starter for a depleted Vikings offense. Besides Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings have no real offensive weapons. The split carries of Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon haven’t been too sufficient, garnering only 426 yards in the five games since the Adrian Peterson suspension. Patterson was supposed to come in and be the undisputed number one receiver for the Vikings, but behind a slow start because of changing quarterbacks and just bad performances, it’s been Jennings taking the load with the most receptions. Jarius Wright is even ahead of Patterson in receptions with 18. Either way, the Bills secondary should be able to focus alone on Wright, Jennings and Patterson with Buffalo having the best rush defense in the NFL, allowing 67.5 yards per game on the ground. The Bills have had trouble defending the pass, however. They are 26th in the league in pass defense, allowing 269.2 yards per game through the air. But, in their defense, have faced quarterbacks Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, and Tom Brady. Bridgewater should not be a problem for this Bills secondary, especially with the game being one-dimensional as Buffalo should be able to shut down the Minnesota run game no matter who it is.

    2) Kyle Orton vs. Minnesota Secondary

    Let’s flip it. Kyle Orton has had two solid games since taking over as Bills quarterback in Week 5. He had a 308-yard outing against a very good Detroit Lions defense, and then followed that up with a 299-yard outing against New England in last week’s loss. In both games he had a pick, but we can attribute both to different things. In the Detroit game, he stared down Sammy Watkins, which resulted in the pick-6 by Rashean Mathis. Last week, the offensive line did him no favors. Which is strange, because they played very well against one of the best D-Lines in the league in Detroit. The Pats got to Orton five times for sacks and forced a crucial fumble. He will go up against, believe it or not, one of the best pass defenses in the league in the Vikings. They are sixth in the league in pass yards allowed with 213.8 per game. As far as turnovers go, their differential sits at -5, and they have five interceptions on the season which is right in the middle of the league. Orton took apart two of the top three pass defenses the past two weeks. This will be a little bit of a break, but not too much.

    3) Can the run game finally get back on track?

    The run game was supposed to be the strength of the offense this year, and they have underperformed greatly. The dynamic duo of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson has only garnered 461 yards of rushing yards on the season, and the average of 101 yards per game on the ground is 22nd in the league. No rusher for the Bills has gotten over 70 yards on the season, including a pitiful 49 and 26 yards in the last two weeks, respectively by Jackson. They will look to get back on track against the 19th-ranked rush defense in the league, as the Vikings have allowed 118.2 yards per game. If the Bills are going to win this game, they will have to run the football to take some of the pressure off of Orton.

    The Bills will host the Vikings this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on FOX. This enters a stretch which could decide the season for Buffalo, with three games in the division in the next five games. They then finish with a five-game gauntlet which features games against Cleveland, in Denver, Green Bay, and in New England.

    The Bills should handle this one. My prediction:

    Final. 14. 60. 31. 16