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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Week 15 Preview: 3 Key Matchups to Watch During Bills vs. Broncos

Via Henry Skrull Jr / Via Justin Edmunds/Getty Images

So far this season, the Bills have played on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and are now slated to play the Broncos on Saturday after the game was flexed a few weeks back. No matter the day of the week, the Bills are ready to roll. Despite the hefty snow outside right now, the Buffalo Bills are red hot, winning 6 out of their last 7 games. Buffalo’s win against Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football sent a clear message to the rest of the league, and that is the Bills are a legitimate threat in the AFC. After a slow first half, the Bills offense erupted in the second half. Bills OC Brian Daboll adjusted to the consistent pressure being sent by Pittsuburgh, countering with a quick strike offense that allowed Josh Allen to find Stefon Diggs over and over again. What was even more impressive was the performance by the defense, who stymied the Steelers offense all night long. This is the most complete football the Bills have played all season and they could not have picked a better time to do so. As the Bills head into the Mile High City, they have their eyes set on their first AFC East divisional title since 1995, which can be clinched with a win on Saturday.

Key Matchups

1. Dion Dawkins vs. Bradley Chubb

While Denver’s most feared pass rusher, Von Miller, will be absent on Saturday due to a season ending freak injury he suffered prior to the season, Buffalo still needs to be wary of their other talented pass rusher, Bradley Chubb. Back in the 2018 NFL Draft, Buffalo had actually agreed to trade up for the 5th overall pick to select Josh Allen. However, Denver backed out at the last moment to take Bradley Chubb at that spot. It all worked out in the end for the Bills, who were able to secure their franchise QB with the 7th pick after desperately trying to trade up, but it is crazy to imagine what could have happened if Denver decided to take Allen who played his college ball in essentially their backyard. Chubb has likely heard the chatter from local media that the Broncos should have taken Allen instead, which could provide some added motivation for him to make a statement this game. Chubb has put together a solid season himself, recording 7.5 sacks and 30 pressures through 13 games played. The man tasked with stopping Chubb from getting to Allen is none other than Dion Dawkins. The “Shnowman”, as fans call him, has played a significant role in the success of the Bills offense at LT this season and will need to be especially sharp against a very gifted pass rusher in Chubb.

2. Stefon Diggs/Cole Beasley/Gabriel Davis vs. Denver’s Depleted Secondary

Heading into Saturday, Denver is severely shorthanded at the cornerback position. As of right now, the Broncos carry just three healthy corners, being rookie CB Michael Ojemudia, De’Vante Bausby, and Nate Hairston who was just signed off the Ravens practice squad within the past week. Broncos HC Vic Fangio stated that backup safety Will Parks will start at nickel corner, which should help out the depth a bit. Still, this is not an ideal matchup for Denver knowing that one of the NFL’s most prolific passing offenses is heading into town. Stefon Diggs completely took over the game against Pittsburgh, putting their defenders on skates on his way to an impressive 10 receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown. In the slot, Cole Beasley is thriving in his second consecutive career year since coming to Buffalo, appearing to be unguardable for most defenders, especially those out of position. While John Brown will not suit up this week, the Bills are perfectly comfortable starting standout rookie WR Gabriel Davis, who has been a touchdown machine for Buffalo with a team high of 6 trips to the end zone. Everywhere you look appears to be a major mismatch for Denver, which could bode well for Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense on Saturday.

3. Tre’Davious White vs. Drew Lock

The Broncos have plenty of young talent at WR in rookies Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler along with third year breakout receiver Tim Patrick. However, the most intriguing matchup was inspired by Broncos QB Drew Lock after his comments earlier this week. When asked whether he would avoid testing Bills All-Pro CB Tre’Davious White, Lock said “He’s an extremely talented corner, but it’s not going to be something that scares you off of a throw or scares you off of a matchup. If my read takes me to him, and I need to throw the ball, there will be no second-guess about throwing it.” Granted, that is the mindset teams want to see from their QB, yet testing Tre White may not be the best idea. White has been locked in as of late with 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, and 5 pass breakups in the last 5 weeks. Clearly, White is not the type of player QB’s want to mess with, especially when they are not always confident in their decisions. In a recent interview that took place last month, Lock stated “Half the time, right as the ball leaves my hand, I’m like…’Oh no.’” The last time Lock targeted Tre White was back in college, where White picked him off with ease. Lock is a promising young QB with plenty of potential, but if he gets too comfortable looking in the direction of Tre White, there is a very good chance that Lock could be saying “oh no” a whole lot on Saturday.

Do not be fooled by their 5-8 record, the Broncos are a much tougher team than their record indicates. Denver has proven that they can compete in tough games, recently defeating the Miami Dolphins at home and keeping their matchup versus the divisional powerhouse Kansas City Chiefs within one score. That being said, the Bills are miles ahead of the Broncos at this time and this is a game they should control from start to finish as long as they execute efficiently. Buffalo is playing well in all three phases of the game; offense, defense, and special teams. If all goes well on Saturday, the Bills will finally be able to clinch the divisional title that has eluded them for way too long, an emotional achievement for a franchise that witnessed a remarkable ascension since Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane took over.

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