Know your Eagles enemy: The Buffalo Bills

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I won’t even bring up last week.

The Eagles head North West (no not Kanye’s daughter) to face the 5-1 Buffalo Bills.

While it won’t be typical late October weather in Buffalo, it looks like it will be 60 degrees and rainy. Not ideal for an Eagles offense looking to get their passing offense fixed.

But before we get into that, let’s look at what the Bills did in the offseason and so far this season.

Key additions: 

Running back Frank Gore (free agency – Dolphins),
Cornerback Kevin Johnson (free agency – Texans),
Cornerback E.J. Gaines (free agency – Browns),
Wide receiver Cole Beasley (free agency – Cowboys),
Wide receiver John Brown (free agency – Ravens),
Center Mitch Morse (free agency – Chiefs),
Defensive tackle Ed Oliver (first round draft pick),
Offensive Tackle Cody Ford (second-round draft pick),
Running back Devin Singletary (third round draft pick)

Key departures:

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams (retirement),
Tight end Charles Clay
(released – signed with Cardinals),
Running back LeSean McCoy
(released – signed with Chiefs)

The Bills come into this game 5-1 and second in the AFC East. However, despite their record, Football Outsiders calls them the worst 5-1 team in history according to DVOA. Their ranking puts them with teams either .500 in record or below .500, not a good indicator of a strong 5-1 record.

Their wins this season have come against teams with a combined 6-27 record, while their lone loss has come against the 7-0 Patriots.

Against those abysmal opponents, their defensive has racked up the following ranks:

  • Yards per game: 3rd
  • Passing yards per game: 4th
  • Rushing yards per game: 10th

Their defensive ranks is no fluke. They have a tremendous defense.  However, they might find it hard to have as much success against an Eagles team ready to show how explosive they are on offense.

On the flip side, the Bills offense has racked up the following ranks:

  • Yards per game: 17th
  • Passing yards per game: 21st
  • Rushing yards per game: 7th

That passing attack will have the ability to improve on those numbers against the Eagles’ 27th ranked pass defense, but the Bills will have a tough time improving, or even reaching, that rushing total against the Eagles’ seventh ranked rush defense. 

Prior to the Cowboys game, the Eagles were ranked second in the league in rush defense. But after a 189 rushing performance by the Cowboys, that rank dropped to seventh. 

Josh Allen has been Jekyll and Hyde this season when it comes to his offensive arsenal. Let’s take a look.

Dr. Jekyll

When it comes to the passing offense, Allen has been as formidable as Dr. Jekyll.  He only averages 220.7 passing yards per game and has seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

His 62.43% completion rate ranks 20th among quarterbacks with 100 or more passing attempts (Wentz is 24th, but we won’t mention the WR drops… 17 of them.. ok done). His QBR is 37.3, which is 29th out of 32 quarterbacks with 105 or more passing attempts. 

We talked about DVOA previously and Allen’s rank among those 32 quarterbacks is 27th. Simply put, his performance as a passing quarterback this season has not been good.

To give another metric of his performance, 68% of his passes 20 or more yards downfield have been deemed uncatchable by ProFootballFocus. This is the highest percentage in the league. Look for John Brown to speed passed the Eagles’ defensive backs with ease on Sunday, but for Allen to overthrow him almost every time.

However….

Mr. Hyde

Allen’s ability as a rushing quarterback is about as scary as Mr. Hyde. On 21 scrambles this season, Allen is averaging 6.4 yards per carry.  These are not designed runs. A scramble is a run during a designed passing play.  So once defenders get Allen out of the pocket, he’s still scrambling for more than six yards. 

That 6.4 average is down from his whopping 11.0 average in 2018, but it’s still enough to extend drives. Given the Eagles’ 15th ranked third down defense, this can be a key factor in the Bills’ offensive drives. 

While the Eagles are 1-1 when a quarterback rushes for 30 yards or more this season, it’s the drive extending runs that decimate this defense. It’s the 3rd and 7 scramble that turns a 3 and out into an eight minute drive. Allen has the ability to wear out the Eagles defense on one drive with his legs. 

No Fly Zone

With all of the previous talk about Josh Allen, more should be said about the Bills’ passing defense. 

ProFootballFocus currently ranks them as the fourth best unit in man coverage. They’ve only allowed 19 first downs on 59 targets this season and linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano have been key components of that. 

Last week, Tre’Davious White was targeted five times and only allowed one completion. He also added his third interception of the year and has not allowed a touchdown this season. 

The Eagles’ passing attack has not been great this season, with the wide receivers leading the league in dropped passes. In a rainy and windy (20-30 MPH forecast) environment on the road, it doesn’t look likely the Eagles will find success through the air.

For some history and predictions, move on to the next page!

Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ron Schwane

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