Bills at Vikings: Three keys and a prediction for the Week 3 matchup
By DJ Eberle
BuffaLowDown’s DJ Eberle breaks down the Buffalo Bills’ Week 3 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, including three keys to the game.
The Buffalo Bills could be in for some tough sledding Sunday in Minnesota.
After struggling against the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers to open the season, things get more difficult on Sunday as the Bills face the Minnesota Vikings as a double-digit underdog on the road.
After a disappointing effort in the first six quarters of the 2018 season, the Bills looked better in the second half last week, outscoring the Chargers 14-3.
Buffalo will need to turn those 30 minutes into a full 60 minutes if they want any chance to pull off the upset.
You know the drill, each week during the regular season this column will provide the three ways the Bills can secure a victory. So, without further ado, here are the Three Keys to the Game for the matchup against the Vikings, which kicks off 1 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium on CBS.
Protect Josh Allen
While Josh Allen showed some promise against the Chargers, the rookie quarterback struggled at times, too.
Specifically when he was pressured.
According to Pro Football Focus, “Allen has been under pressure on 44.3% of his dropbacks, the third-highest rate in the NFL, and ranks last among qualified quarterbacks with an 11.8 passer rating and 25.0 percent adjusted completion percentage.”
Allen is 2-for-15 with an interception when he’s under pressure and still gets a pass off. Not good.
The Bills offensive line, which has allowed pressure on a quarter of dropbacks through two games, according to PFF, needs to step up against a tough opponent this week.
It’s possible that Russell Bodine will replace Ryan Groy at center on Sunday, which could be a big boost. Groy has earned a 41.8 from PFF this season.
Bodine or not, the offense needs to play better and give Allen a chance to go through his reads. If he can do that, Allen might get a chance to make a play or two.
Minnesota’s No. 1 corner, Xavier Rhodes, let Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams catch eight passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. If Allen has time, his wide receivers might be able to get open.
A disappointing, and rather shocking theme, has been present in each of the Bills’ first two games.
They’ve started games extremely slow, and almost disinterested at times. Considering Sean McDermott preaches effort and hard work, it’s surprising how slow his teams have started games.
This can’t happen facing a high-powered Minnesota offense that will likely score with ease.
The Bills cannot get behind early and if they do they must respond.
Buffalo doesn’t have the offense to play catch-up. It didn’t last year with a more capable offense and it most certainly doesn’t this year.
It’s time to start with the ball and not defer.
Get the ball first and let Allen take a shot or two and set the tone. It’s the only way.
Be efficient on first down, defensively
Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but he’s not perfect.
The Washington Redskins did let him go after all. You don’t see that too often.
With that being said, the only way Buffalo’s defense might be able to survive the Vikings’ impressive offensive firepower is if they can continuously make big stops on first down and put Minnesota in second-and-long and third-and-long.
Even without Dalvin Cook, the Vikings have a running attack that should be able to pick up first downs rather easily if it’s second-or third-and-short. Buffalo needs to pick apart Cousins and let the veteran quarterback beat them, even though he has tremendous options to throw the ball to out wide.
Prediction: Vikings 38, Bills 17
At the end of the day, the Vikings have too much talent for the Bills to handle as Buffalo drops to 0-3.
The Bills’ first win might not come until Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans.