After stampeding through the Minnesota Vikings last week by a score of 27-6, Buffalo is on the road again in week four to take on another NFC North opponent in the Green Bay Packers. The Bills will look to keep the momentum rolling against a Green Bay team that is coming off of a 31-17 loss on the road to the Washington Redskins. At 1-1-1, the Pack look like nothing more than a middle-of-the-road team. Their offense is ranked 18th in total yards gained (1,061) and their defense is ranked 23rd in total yards given up (1,160). The 23.3 points a game the Green Bay offense averages is good enough for 14th place, and the 27.7 points their defense gives up is good enough for 23rd place. Blame it on what you will, Aaron Rodgers being banged up or one of the many ridiculous roughing the passer calls on Clay Matthews, but the Packers are beatable – even for the Buffalo Bills.
It won’t be easy, though. Let’s be honest, an Aaron Rodgers at 80% is still better than 90% of the starting quarterbacks in the league. When he’s at home in Lambeau, he’s even better – something Buffalo will have to deal with this week. His home crowd is equivalent to that of a cortisone shot, it helps put him in a zone that will make you wonder if he’s even really hurt at all. He proved that in week one when he came back from injury in the second half to lead the Packers to a 24-23 come-from-behind victory against the division foe Chicago Bears. Before Rodgers took the field in the second half, the Packers were down 20-0.
If Buffalo wants to embarrass the Packers like they did the Vikings, there’s only one thing they need to do:
- Wake up because it’s not going to happen.
Now, now, Bills Mafia, don’t get upset. Winning is possible – it just won’t be by 21 points. However, if the Bills want to steal another win from the NFC North, they should bring the same keys to victory they used in their 21 point victory last week:
- Let Josh Allen be Josh Allen. The kid is learning on the fly, but he’s so big and athletic that “on the fly” can extend plays and cause headaches for defensive coordinators. His two rushing touchdown and his highlight reel hurdle last week are proof of just that. The hurdle may have made his coaches uneasy, but it’s just the type of play that can ignite every player on the team. When a young leader lays it all on the line, his teammates will too.
- Run the ball. The Bills were able to run for 128 yards against the Vikings – a team that finished second in run defense just a year ago – without LeSean McCoy. Granted, their 3.4 yards a carry weren’t necessarily impressive, but it helped them control the tempo. Should McCoy be able to come back from injury (rib), they should be able to run even easier against a defensive who’s not nearly as good at stopping the ground game as the Vikings. Green Bay is currently giving up 4.7 yards a carry. Four of Josh Allen’s 10 rushes led to either points or first downs. Refer back to key number one.
- Hit Rodgers. Number 12 is good enough to prevent a handful of sacks, but there’s only so much he can do to prevent being hit. He can certainly beat you with pre-snap reads and quick throws should he recognize the blitz, but how many hits can Rodgers take before enough is enough? Football is still a violent game – for now – so the Bills should try and make Rodgers pick himself up off the ground as many times as possible. All clean hits obviously.
- Win the turnover battle. An obvious key for every single team in every single game they will ever play. Buffalo won the turnover battle in Minnesota 3-0, but Josh Allen had three fumbles. Luckily all three were recovered by the Bills. When the football hits the ground, the direction it takes is always unpredictable. Next time Buffalo might not be so lucky. Someone like Aaron Rodgers could easily turn three turnovers in to 21 points.
Even after upsetting the Vikings as 16 ½ point underdogs, Buffalo heads in to Green Bay with the Packers favored by 9 ½. The only team favored by more in week four is the Los Angeles Chargers (+10 over the 49ers). Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm (ET) with a chance of rain.
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