BuffaLowDown’s DJ Eberle breaks down the Buffalo Bills’ Week 4 matchup against the Green Bay Packers, including the three keys to the game.
After pulling off the biggest upset in NFL history a week ago, can the Buffalo Bills do it again Sunday at Lambeau Field?
They are 10-point underdogs against a reeling Green Bay Packers unit after all.
However, if you’re looking for some early optimism before we dig in, FiveThirtyEight gives the Bills a 47-percent chance at pulling off the upset.
So yes, I’m telling you that there’s a chance.
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 Packers, which kicks off 1 p.m. Sunday at Lambeau Field on CBS.
Get after Aaron Rodgers
Sure, Aaron Rodgers was able to practice Thursday after failing to do so each of the last two weeks due to a knee injury.
While it’s a sign he’s feeling better, and a major one at that, if you watched him move around last week against the Washington Redskins, that wasn’t a usual performance from the star quarterback.
Rodgers posted a QBR of 40.3 and was sacked four times. 50 is considered average by QBR standards.
The Bills are coming off their best defensive effort of the season, especially from the pass rush perspective.
Jerry Hughes is coming off of a huge performance against the Minnesota Vikings, a game which he was credited for double-digits pressures. If it wasn’t for Matt Milano’s even bigger day, Hughes would have been the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Hughes has another tough matchup in David Bakhtiari, who has earned an 81.5 from Pro Football Focus this season. That doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities for Hughes, however. Riley Reiff still had a 70.8 after facing Hughes.
But the Bills might be at their best when their nickel defense is on the field and Lorenzo Alexander finds him at the line of scrimmage. Alexander has an 90.8 this season.
As a whole, the defensive line has impressive grades by PFF standards. There will be holes for the Bills to attack on the Green Bay offensive line, especially if McCray and Bulaga can’t suit up on Sunday.
The Bills ability to make Rodgers uncomfortable will be a huge factor.
Establish the run
The scouting report at BuffaloBills.com has the run game as one of the Bills’ “top two advantages” Sunday.
Green Bay is giving up 124.3 yards per game this season. That ranks 27th.
"“Buffalo hasn’t fully hit their stride with their ground game yet this season, but with Josh Allen serving as a complement to Buffalo’s backs and Green Bay giving up almost 125 yards a game on the ground, the Bills should have some success with the run whether LeSean McCoy is in the lineup or not,” Bills Insider Chris Brown writes."
LeSean McCoy has talked about playing with a chip on his shoulder all week. Sunday could be his breakout game.
"“I got to get it going, looking at all the other running backs,” McCoy told ESPN’s Mike Rodak earlier this week. “I’ve got a lot to do.”"
If the Bills can get the running game going, less of an incentive will be placed on Josh Allen.
The last thing the Buffalo coaching staff wants is for Allen to get into a shootout with Rodgers.
If the Bills can dominate the line of scrimmage and run the ball efficiently, they’ll keep Rodgers and Co. off the field and limit Green Bay’s opportunities to put up points.
With a rookie quarterback, playing with a lead is extremely important. Just take Sunday against the Vikings as an example.
While Allen would likely be comfortable playing from behind, he doesn’t exactly have the pieces around him to play from behind.
The Bills need to take a page out of their win against Minnesota.
If they get the chance, they should choose to start with the ball. If Buffalo can score first, its odds of pulling off back-to-back upsets will only go up.
Prediction: Bills 31, Packers 27
Watching Rodgers struggle against a mediocre Redskins defense has stuck with me.
The Bills have given up nine points over the last six quarters. If they can ride their defense, they’ll have a shot.
Green Bay is a mess, defensively. If the Bills can take advantage of a Packers mistake or two, they’ll have an opportunity to pull off the upset.