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The best way to move on from a bad game is to play another one. This week, the Buffalo Bills get to move on sooner than usual, playing on just three days rest in-between Sunday and Thursday.
For teams on a roll, playing on a short week is never ideal. For our Rumbling Herd, getting back out there sooner than later is the perfect prescription for a deflated fanbase.
Yeah, it sucks, the Patriots are in first place, and they appear to have a legitimate defense again, but this is still a quarterback-driven league, and we’ve all seen what Josh Allen is capable of doing.
Lately, those capabilities have come back to haunt Bills Fans, but they’ll get a look at an organization without a franchise quarterback on Thursday Night Football when they take on the New Orleans Saints.
As you’ve heard and seen by now, the ever-so-accurate Drew Brees has retired, leaving behind a trio of Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, and Trevor Siemian.
They won’t get to face the turnover-prone Winston, as he’s out for the season with a torn ACL.
Taysom Hill, while he was reportedly competing for the starting gig in the preseason, didn’t play a single snap last week, which is odd, to say the least. Hill is likely still recovering from a foot injury. Otherwise, it’s possible the Bills have to face the gimmicky QB.
For what it’s worth, one Saints beat reporter believes it’s time to hand the keys to Hill, but maybe not on a short week, especially if there’s any potential to re-injure his foot.
This leaves the veteran journeyman Trevor Siemian in the high chair. More on that in a bit.
Buffalo Bills Week 12 game details, where to watch
- Thursday, November 25, 2021
- Start time: 8:20 PM ET
- TV channel - NBC/Peacock
- Location - Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana
© Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
What happened last time the Bills played the New Orleans Saints?
We can throw this one out. The last time the Bills faced the Saints was four years ago, in 2017. Everyone’s favorite quarterback Nathan Peterman was under center that day for the Bills after taking over for Tyrod Taylor late in the fourth quarter.
The Saints never even had to punt. That’s how bad things were just a few years ago. While we can complain as much as we want about losing three of our last five games, things can get a lot worse, and we’ve seen it.
Buffalo allowed a season-worst 482 yards on the day to an offense consisting of a future Hall of Famer in Drew Brees, paired with a dynamic duo featuring Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara.
Somehow Kamara and Ingram still remain, but Kamara missed Week 11. He might miss this game too. Ingram is losing quickness and explosiveness by the season, and the Bills already held him to 24 yards on six carries in Week 3 when he was with Houston.
© Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Matchups to watch
- Josh Allen vs. Saints secondary
If there’s an area where the Saints are vulnerable on defense, it’s stopping the pass. They allow 252.2 passing yards per game to opponents, which ranks in the bottom third of the NFL. But they’ve been able to capitalize on mistakes, intercepting eight passes so far.
I want you to see this next set of numbers for yourself.
If you clicked the link from Pro Football Reference, you would see Josh Allen has less time in the pocket this season, 2.2 seconds compared to 2.6 seconds last season. Allen’s already been hurried 50 times, compared to 64 all of last year.
All of this is to say what we already knew, Allen’s facing more pressure this season than he’s seen since his rookie year. Allen has faced pressure on 24.6% of his dropbacks, up from a season ago at 21.9%.
Another interesting stat, Allen’s on-target throw percentage is way down from a year ago. 69.2% of his passes are considered on-target, compared to 79.1% in 2020. Strangely enough, Allen’s bad throw percentage is actually better than last year. He’s had 14.2% of his tosses considered bad throws compared to 16% last season.
So, Allen has been less accurate this season, but he’s not necessarily making as many dumb throws as he has in the past. It’s better this way than the other way around.
Allen can fix his inaccuracy issues. He’s done so in the past. It’s much easier than fixing stupid, which you can’t do.
- Bills RBs vs. Saints run defense
I’m not expecting Buffalo to win this positional matchup, but it’s certainly important. The Saints’ defense is like the Bills’. After Week 11, the Saints now have the third-best run defense in the league in terms of yards allowed per game (89.8), but they are first in yards per carry (3.4).
Buffalo now ranks sixth in rushing yards allowed per game (101.9) and 11th in yards per carry (4.1).
Somehow the Bills rank 12th in the NFL, averaging 118.8 rushing yards as a team. But we all know they’re not capable of dominating an opponent with their ground game. In their last three losses, Buffalo’s inability to run the ball has set them back in a big way.
Against the Colts, the Bills were held to 91 rushing yards. Against the Jaguars, the Bills had just 72 rushing yards. And against the Titans, the Bills had just 82 yards on the ground.
Buffalo was too one-dimensional in all three of those losses to keep defenses guessing, which only creates more pressure on Allen and the offensive line by having to hold up for 50-60 plays per game in pass pro, instead of being able to maul for 20-30 snaps when pushing the pile.
Brian Daboll needs to start committing to running the ball for the Bills to become a championship contender. I’m just not sure the Saints are the right team to try a heavier run approach against.
They should continue giving Matt Breida more touches. His speed can be a true difference-maker. Breida allows the Bills to use more play-action where defenses can’t bite too much on the fakes due to Stefon Diggs’ ability to embarrass defenders downfield.
Still, as we’ve seen, it’s always much easier said than done. That’s why they make the big bucks.
- Bills defense vs. Trevor Siemian
Last week when the Saints took on the Eagles, Trevor Siemian didn’t have either of his starting offensive tackles due to injury. Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk are among the best offensive tackle duos in the NFL. Their availability will be an essential factor in this matchup too.
With or without his bookend blockers, Trevor Siemian, or even a possibly surprise Taysom Hill sighting, don’t have the arm to throw for 300+ and do damage in that way. Both quarterbacks are sneaky athletic, but they won’t take a game over.
Executing big plays is not their forte. If they are without Kamara again or get behind in a hurry, the wheels could fall off. They can’t afford to get too aggressive as that will lead to game-breaking mistakes.
The Bills can put the game away by showing the New Orleans quarterback different looks and generating pressure. The Saints don’t have a wide receiver or even a tight end capable of beating the Bills’ corners one-on-one, and that should make things much less stressful on gameday for Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier.
© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills Week 12 game prediction
- Last season’s record: Buffalo Bills 13-3, reached AFC Conference Championship
- New Orleans Saints 12-4, first place in NFC South
I’m coming back down to earth with my prediction this week. I believe the Saints’ defense is stout, which will limit how many points the Rumbling Herd can score. But I also have zero faith in Trevor Siemian’s ability to beat a good football team, especially one with an elite secondary like we have in Buffalo.
The best player on the Saints is Alvin Kamara, and we have no idea if he’ll be ready to go on Thursday. If Kamara can play, it’s probably a seven-point swing as he’s the foundation of their offense.
Vegas oddsmakers have set the betting line. Buffalo is favored by 4 to 4.5 points, which to me seems a bit low.
While it hasn’t been a great season through and through from Josh Allen, I haven’t lost any belief that he’s a Super Bowl-winning QB. I may be drinking too much red and blue Kool-Aid for some taste palettes, but football is all about getting hot at the right time. A few bumps and bruises along the way will only make him more battle-tested.
Let’s kick some New Orleans tail this week, giving us all something to be thankful for during the holiday season.
Game prediction: 24-13 Bills victory