Buffalo Bills vs. Dallas Cowboys: Three Keys to the Game


While the Buffalo Bills return to The Ralph losers of four of their last five games and are eliminated for the playoffs for the 16th consecutive season, they’re finally back home and playing in front of the BillsMafia where they belong.

One of these years Bills fans will be able to enjoy a playoff game, and maybe even one at home. But for now, it’s time to soak it in and appreciate these final two games, starting Sunday with the Dallas Cowboys.

Here’s this week’s Three Keys to the Game for the matchup with the Cowboys, which kicks off Sunday at 1 p.m. from Ralph Wilson Stadium:

1) Play with some pride.

This season has been more about pointing figures and calling out flaws than owning up to mistakes. At some point players have to hold themselves accountable, and that finally seems to have happened at One Bills Drive.

After hearing multiple players complain about schemes and other problems, someone finally spoke up and called the players out – Sammy Watkins.

After hauling in 111 yards and two touchdowns on five catches in another losing effort, Watkins stepped up and spoke out after the game about his disgust of how the players have handled things this season. It’s something more Bills need to do and is something every fan should be happy to see.

“We’ve got to take over as players,” Watkins said, via syracuse.com. “We can’t put everything on the coaches and blame whatever the situation is. We’ve got to go out and play every week and we’ve got to demand that from each other and forget the coaches. It’s not the coaches’ team. It’s the players’ team. It’s player-driven. We’ve just got to work on ourselves and gain more leaders.

“Our coaches do a great job with being aggressive and calling plays. I don’t think it’s about the plays. I think we just have to execute the plays. We can’t blame coaches for calls. We have to go out there and do our job whatever call it is. We have to make our coach look good, they going to make us look good. It’s vice versa. We have to help each other out. That’s what comes with making plays. If it’s a bad play just go out there and make a play. Just like they call great plays for us. There’s no perfect play on the field, so we have to go out there each week and know he’s not going to make the best call every play, but let’s get him out of trouble.”

Sunday’s matchup against a weak Cowboys squad is the perfect opportunity for the players to let their play on the field do the talking and not their post-game comments.

With Dallas playmakers sidelined on both sides of the ball, the Bills have the chance to shine and demonstrate what they could have been all season long.

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2) Get Sammy Watkins the ball.

Speaking of Sammy Watkins, it’s time to once again get him the football.

After posting 301 yards and four touchdowns in the last three games combined, Watkins has another favorable matchup this weekend.

With Morris Claiborne out and Orlando Scandrick already on the injured reserve, the Cowboys will be extremely thin at cornerback Sunday. It’s an opportunity for Watkins to go off once again and have a career game.

A matchup this juicy could do Watkins and Tyrod Taylor a lot of good in the long run.

Rookie Dez Lewis will also have an opportunity to leave his mark in his first-career game. With Robert Woods put on injured reserve earlier in the week, Lewis could see some significant time out wide this weekend and moving forward.

3) Contain Darren McFadden.

Didn’t think that would be a sentence I’d ever write a year or two ago, but Darren McFadden has been the Cowboys’ best playmaker this season. Considering he’s extremely effective as a pass catcher the defense has to be on point Sunday.

After a couple of slow weeks in Week 12 and 13, McFadden has caught fire again rushing for at least 100 yards in back-to-back games. The Buffalo rushing defense has been lacking ever since the loss of Kyle Williams and McFadden could make them pay.

However, considering Dallas has no vertical passing game Buffalo will be able to load the box. If the Bills can bottle up McFadden and the rest of Dallas’ running backs, it’ll force Kellen Moore to beat them, which is something anyone would take.

Prediction: Bills win 24-13

The Buffalo defense will finally play to its potential and give Dallas a hard time all day. With Moore at quarterback and Dez Bryant out of the lineup, the Cowboys are going to struggle to score points. Karlos Williams will have another chance to shine as the No. 1 back with LeSean McCoy out of the lineup and facing an average rushing defense. Buffalo inches closer to a .500 record.