Before every Bills’ game I spend some time, probably too much time, digging into how the Bills roster stacks up against their opponent’s. While doing this I specifically look at 5 matchups; Bills’ Pass Offense vs. Opponent’s Pass Defense, Bills’ Rush Offense vs. Opponent’s Rush Defense, Bills’ Pass Defense vs. Opponent’s Pass Offense, Bills’ Rush Defense vs. Opponent’s Rush Offense, Bills’ Special Teams vs. Opponent’s Special Teams. After doing all of this I try to come up with reasons “Why We Will Lose” and “Why We Will Win” ultimately leading to a prediction. Below I present 2020’s 9th iteration of this analysis for the Bills upcoming home game against the Seahawks. Included is a scale to rank the advantage in each matchup from 👏👏👏👏👏 (Massive Advantage) to 👏 (Minimal Advantage). Bills’ Passing Offense vs. Seahawks’ Passing Defense
Teams spent the first two seasons of Josh Allen’s career stacking the box in an attempt to force him to beat them through the air, the strategy has changed in 2020. Allen has clearly improved as a passer and while the statistics align with this statement there is no greater proof than how opposing teams are strategizing to stop the Bills offense. In fact, on Sunday in weather conditions that made throwing the ball difficult the Patriots defense fielded 5+ DBs
(5 DBs #1, 6 DBs #36, 7 DBs #18) on every non-keel play of the game. Think about that, arguably the greatest defensive mind in NFL history spent the entirety of a rainy windy game in Nickel defense, or greater, against a QB who was once considered nothing more than a Wildcat RB.
And this week Allen and the Bills will take their high-powered air attack into a game against a defense who doesn’t particularly excel at stopping it. Through 8 weeks the Seahawks have given up more passing yardage (2511 Yards) than any other team in the NFL, doing so while giving up a Passer Rating Against of 93.1 (15th in the NFL). Most of their issues are directly connected to a massive amount of injuries the Seahawks secondary has been dealing with. Jamal Adams (S) has missed 4 games, Quinton Dunbar (CB) 2 games, and Shaquill Griffin (CB) 1 game, are just a few of the players struggling to stay on the field. As of Thursday, the Seahawks have 6 DBs listed on the injury report and while it is likely some of them will be on the field come Sunday, it is very unlikely all of them will be.
The Bills have 2 areas where they should be able to take advantage of the Seahawks on Sunday. The first of these is underneath where slot receivers like Adam Thielen (9Rec/80Yds/2TDs) & Julian Edelman (8Rec/179Yds/0TDs) have had success in the intermediate range. Cole Beasley continues to be a massive weapon for Buffalo and should have ample opportunities against the Seahawks Sunday. The second area where the Bills should find an advantage, assuming he plays, is Jamal Adams. Adams is an incredibly talented player and by all means a top-5 Safety in the NFL, but he is incredibly aggressive. Using this aggressiveness against him is something that should result in the Bills having multiple opportunities to hit the deep ball, something they have struggled with in recent weeks. If the Bills can capitalize on each of these areas this matchup will be a massive advantage and could go a long way in deciding if the Bills wake up Monday 7-2 or 6-3. EDGE: Bills
👏 👏 👏 Bills’ Rushing Offense vs. Seahawks’ Rushing Defense
In each of the last 2 weeks the Bills have rushed for 125+ yards, more than they had in any of their first 6 games. Against the Patriots both Devin Singletary and Zack Moss had 14 rushing attempts, and each had more than 80 yards rushing. This is 5.75+ Y/A for each RB, a massive number for a team that by all accounts has struggled on the ground in 2020. It also looks like the Bills are back to the RB by Committee system instead of having a bell cow back which means we need a new nickname for this group. The “SingleZack” attack? Nah that’s weak, hit up the comments with a suggestion.
Regardless of the nickname Bills Mafia comes up with, this duo at RB may struggle Sunday to move the ball efficiently on the ground. The Seahawks are one of the better run stopping units in the NFL holding opposing runners to 3.9 Y/A (6th in the NFL) while forcing 5 fumbles (4th in the NFL). Now you could tell me Jarran Reed (DT) or Poona Ford (DT) or K.J. Wright (LB) or even Jordyn Brooks (LB) are keys to the Seahawks stopping the run game, and you may be right. But the “Trail Blazing, Eyebrow Raising, Jabroni Beating, Pie Eating, Heart Stopping, Elbow Dropping, PEOPLE’S CHAMP,”
Bobby Wagner, is the unadulterated stud of this unit. If you love football, you love Bobby Wagner, who has 4 straight All-Pros, and is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. He couples the physicality of a Brian Urlacher with the athleticism of a Ray Lewis and the vision of a Luke Kuechly to form one of the most complete football players I have ever seen, and he will be a problem for Buffalo on Sunday. (NOTE: Key #54 Bobby Wagner on Sunday, even if the Bills struggle enjoy watching one of the GOATs do work).
So, what does Buffalo do here? They hope that Jon Feliciano is as hungry as he was last week and continues to dominate in his second week back. The key to the Bills run game will be getting Feliciano to the 2nd level and on to Wagner so that he can free up lanes passed the line of scrimmage for the Bills’ RBs. If last week was a week designed for Moss, this is a week designed for Singletary. The Seahawks have elite, great tackling, LBs which are perfectly countered by the highly agile Singletary. I’ll say this now, there should be a major concern from Bills fans regarding ball security Sunday. With the elite nature of Seahawks defenders, it is fair to expect they will consistently attack the ball, regardless of carrier, in order to force a game changing turnover. EDGE: Seahawks
👏 👏 👏 Bills’ Passing Defense vs. Seahawks’ Passing Offense
I know that the narrative from last week is that the Bills’ pass defense held up well against the Patriots, and frankly speaking I think that is absurd. Cam Newton had the 2nd most passing yards and his 2nd best passer rating all season while his top target was Jakobi Meyers. The Bills really missed Micah Hyde as consistent lapses in the Palms scheme resulted in Newton being able to hit open receivers. If it was not for Newton completely missing his receiver on 6 of his 10 incompletions the Patriots win this game. Buffalo’s once dominant secondary needs to get better quickly and if quickly implies later than this week then the Bills will be in for a world of hurt.
1 – Russel Wilson, 2 – DK Metcalf, 3 – Tyler Lockett. 1 – Russel Wilson is far and away the MVP of the NFL right now. Wilson has been nothing short of incredible this season and is currently pacing for 59 Passing TDs and 4916 Passing Yards. 2 – He is throwing to DK Metcalf who is a complete and utter monster that is nearly unstoppable this season. Metcalf has 90+ receiving yards in 6 out of 7 games this season with a whopping Y/Tgt of 11.5. 3 – Tyler Lockett is the perfect counter to zone defenses. His play style resembles the only home-owner on Revis Island, Ex-Bills WR Stevie Johnson
. Lockett has the similar innate ability to improv routes that Johnson possessed and is made more dangerous by his tight connection with Russel Wilson. Lockett has been the unheralded weapon of this team for quite some time and will consistently challenge the Bills’ secondary this weekend.
Sunday will come down to some sort of extraordinary individual effort by a Bills defender. All of Tre White, Jordan Poyer, and Micah Hyde do not have an INT this season, this week one of them needs one. Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison are each on pace for just 6 sacks this season, one of them needs to significantly increase that projection. Ed Oliver has just 4 QB Hits through 8 weeks, he needs to get to Wilson multiple times Sunday. Tremaine Edmunds has a passer rating against of 151.5, he needs multiple PDs this week. For the first time ever, I look at this unit and think a single player needs to dominate as opposed to the unit as whole playing a good game. Someone needs to be special or the Bills will get blown out by Mr. Unlimited
. EDGE: Seahawks
👏 👏 👏 👏 Bills’ Rushing Defense vs. Seahawks’ Rushing Offense
While I spent the last section complaining about the Bills pass defense, I’ll spend this touting the Bills run defense. It’s weird to say that when the Bills gave up 188 yards on the ground for an average of 5.5 Y/A but I think much worse was expected of them Sunday. Against the run the Bills defense consistently made big plays when they had to have them. Early in the 2nd quarter on a 3rd and 8 the Patriots ran a Zone Read where Jerry Hughes blew contain but then chased Newton down into the arms of Tremaine Edmunds stopping Newton 4 yards short of a 1st down. This saved the Bills 4 points. Late in the 4th the legend of the Zim-Zam continued when Justin Zimmer dropped a Peanut Punch on Cam Newton to win the game for Buffalo with the Patriots driving for the victory. The Bills did what they had to against the run and came up big in multiple situations to save the game
So, what will Buffalo see Sunday? No one knows. Will the Bills see stud Chris Carson? Maybe. What we do know is they will not see backup Carlos Hyde, so if Carson does not play 2020 4th round pick DeeJay Dallas will be the bell cow for Seattle. DeeJay rushed for more than 1500 rushing yards over 3 years at the University of Miami and impressed at the combine with a 4.58 40yd dash leading to him being selected in the 4th round of the 2020 draft by the Seahawks. If it is just DeeJay, I wouldn’t expect to see him all that much in the run game as the Seahawks simply have don’t have the need run the ball. Note that Dallas can be a weapon in the passing game as well, so he has a shot at 100 all-purpose yards.
If and when the Seahawks do run the ball, they will be running behind a solid line with the left side representing the strength of the group. Duane Brown and Mike Iupati are solid starters at this point in their careers and are meant more to protect Wilson’s blindside than anything else but can support the run. This means that the Bills should have an opportunity to get to the backfield on run plays so I would expect a good game from Tremaine Edmunds, who played significantly better last week, and a big game from Harrison Phillips. Zimmer got all the headlines against New England, but it was Phillips who consistently held the LOS and at a minimum will need to do that this week against the Seahawks OL. EDGE: Wash Bills’ Special Teams vs. Seahawks’ Special Teams
In Andre Roberts second worst game of the season he had just 2 KRs for 48 yards. Still he is one of the best return men in the NFL and is getting closer and closer to breaking that TD return. You heard it here first, Roberts will take one back against Seattle. At punter Bojo did struggle a bit in Buffalo last week but still managed to average 40.7 yards per punt in extremely difficult weather conditions. It wasn’t as pretty as the rest of the Bojo’s season but still was overall another successful day for the Bills’ punter. At kicker was Bass who deserves massive credit for his game on Sunday. Bass hit 3 XPs and a Field Goal in difficult weather conditions. He deserves further credit for not allowing the Patriots to begin a drive any further than the 28-yard line with yet again consistently strong kick offs.
The Seahawks have two different return men. The first is PR David Moore who has 6 returns this season for 15, 20, 0, 15, 15, and 9 yards. Travis Homer is the KO return man and has returned 9 kicks for 22.7 yards. 3rd Year Aussie, Michael Dickson is a boomer of a punter who is a weapon the Seahawks have when they need him. An All-Pro his rookie season Dickson is averaging 50.4 yards per punt in 2020 and is one of the top punters in the NFL. Jason Myers does the kicking and has built a solid 6-year career based on his consistency. Thus far in 2020 he has made all 5 FGs he has attempted while hitting 29 of his 30 XPs. EDGE: Seahawks
👏 👏 Why We Will Lose
Russel Wilson may currently be playing the best single season a QB has ever played. He is keyed in in a way that few athletes ever are and has the pleasure of throwing to one of the best WR duos in the NFL. DK Metcalf is completely dominating right now and is someone the Bills are ill-equipped to handle. His size and frame will be a problem for the substantially smaller Tre White meaning the Bills will likely need to double team Metcalf on most plays. Even if this works for Buffalo Tyler Lockett will run free and will be a safety valve for Wilson that could show up on any spot of the field.
On defense the Seahawks have an innate ability to force turnovers ranking 4th in the NFL in interception with 9 and 3rd in the NFL in Forced Fumbles at 9. This is a perfect counter to a Bills offense that likes to attempt risky passes and has a QB who has struggled with ball control. If the Seahawks force multiple turnovers on Sunday it will be almost impossible for the Bills to maintain pace with the Seahawks offense. Why We Will Win
While Josh Allen has statistically “struggled” the past few weeks it is clear that he is taking what the defense gives him and is an important part of why the Bills are 2-0 the last 2 weeks. Still Allen does flash big play ability and is getting more and more in step with Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley each week. What will make Allen more dangerous is the Bills improved run game. Both Singletary and Moss had good games against the Patriots and the support of Jon Feliciano should help in maintaining this success. With success on the ground will come success through the air as the Bills have one of the deadliest Play-Action packets in the NFL.
On defense it comes down to if the Bills can find a way to slow down Russel Wilson. While I have complained about Tremaine Edmunds all season, I think he has a big game this week. The big bodied, highly athletic LB should be a force over the middle in somewhat of a spy role. Assuming he can maintain focus on Wilson’s eyes I would not be surprised if he is able to intercept Wilson this week. Also expect Buffalo to use more unique defenses than most teams to stop DK Metcalf. This means the Bills will throw the kitchen sink at him including Poyer, Hyde, White, and even Milano to slow down a player who has dominated thus far in 2020. Prediction: Bills 28 – Seahawks 35 Can the Bills win this game? Yes. Will the Bills win this game? Not likely. The Seahawks just matchup better against the Bills than the Bills do against them. It will be a shootout and a high scoring game which will ultimately come down to turnovers. At this point in their careers you must trust Wilson more than Allen and because of that believe that the Seahawks leave Sunday with a victory. A loss isn’t the end of the world as it pushes the Bills to 6-3 but they still maintain a strong WLC of 5-2 which will be important as the season moves forward. Regardless of the outcome this game looks like it will be a barn burner.