Buffalo Bills Game Preview Week 4: Las Vegas Raiders

The Buffalo Bills look to hit a 4-0 jackpot in Sin City, as they battle the Raiders in a Sunday late afternoon showdown.

What: Buffalo Bills at Las Vegas Raiders
Where: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas NV
When: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Watch: CBS

Las Vegas has a way of ending streaks of good luck. The Buffalo Bills certainly hope that isn’t the case when they make a visit on Sunday.

The Bills (3-0) look to keep the good times rolling in America’s Playground, as they prepare to do battle with the Las Vegas Raiders. Buffalo is one of seven undefeated teams left in the NFL.

That streak was kept alive by a gutsy 35-32 win over the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. The Bills earned a 28-3 lead by the middle stages of the third quarter, but Los Angeles fought back to take the lead in the fourth. Buffalo would avert disaster by embarking on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Josh Allen’s three-yard game-winner to Tyler Kroft. It was the last of Allen’s 311 yards and four touchdowns, while Kroft earned his second score of the day.

On the other side, Las Vegas (2-1) battles its second consecutive AFC East opponent after falling 36-20 to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium last weekend. Derek Carr threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns in defeat. The Raiders return to Allegiant Stadium for the first time since their nationally televised win over New Orleans in Week 2 that opened the 65,000-seat facility.

The Series

This will mark the first time that the Bills will face the “Las Vegas” Raiders. They were 14-17 against the Oakland incarnation, and the Raiders lead the all-time set 21-20. Buffalo fell in their most recent visit to the Raiders’ organization in 2016 but won the last overall meeting when the then-Oakland Raiders visited Orchard Park a year later. LeSean McCoy picked up 151 yards and a score as the Bills earned a 34-14 decision.

History Happens: 1994

The last time the Bills played a Raiders team that wasn’t in Oakland came in the 1993-94 AFC playoffs. Down 17-6 to the Los Angeles Raiders in the late stages of the divisional round’s first half, the Bills enjoyed a touchdown from Thurman Thomas in the final minute. Despite a Bill Brooks touchdown from Jim Kelly and Steve Christie field goal in the third, the Raider took a lead into the final frame on an 86-yard connection between Jeff Hostetler and Tim Brown.

Brooks, however, came up big once more, earning another scoring grab from Kelly in the early stanzas of the fourth. Buffalo ran out the final six minutes on a lengthy final drive mostly sustained through runs from Kenneth Davis. Bruce Smith also became the all-time sack leader in NFL playoff history, passing Richard Dent. The Bills used the momentum from the triumph over Los Angeles to top Kansas City a week later before falling to Dallas in Super Bowl XXVIII.

They Said It

“Offensively, I think (Josh Allen) has a good grasp of what we do. We try to tailor things to his strengths as best we can, as a coaching staff. But he’s got other pieces that are helping. It’s a group effort.”-Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll on the offense, per Chris Brown

“The quarterback is eye-opening. He is a fun guy to watch, man. He can really throw the ball. He’s got a great playing style. He’s got a lot of John Elway playing style. He can scramble, he’s strong, he’s tough. He’s a big-time player. And they’ve got an arsenal around him.”-Raiders head Jon Gruden on Josh Allen, per Josh Dubow

Matchup to Watch

WR Stefon Diggs vs. CB Trayvon Mullen 

Stefon Diggs was brought in to give Allen a big-play target. For all intents and purposes, the trade and taking on of Diggs’ big contract has been well worth it.

Through three weeks, Diggs ranks fourth in the league in receiving yardage (288), becoming the gamechanger the Buffalo offense was missing. Allen has an experienced, reliable catcher with a knack for coming through in big situations. It’s admirable what Allen and company have down with homegrown talent and journeymen, but Diggs is proving himself to be the missing piece that was keeping Buffalo from true contention amongst the NFL elite.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas will be without first-round rookie Damon Arnette for the foreseeable future, having undergone thumb surgery, Trayvon Mullen will take over a good share of secondary responsibility. The sophomore corner has been impressing in the Raiders’ resurgence, topping Pro Football Focus’ grades in pass coverage. He’ll likely be matched up against Diggs on Sunday, as each team faces a major opportunity to establish position in the AFC playoff chase at the quarter-mark.

“It’s going to be a challenge this week,” Mullen said of the showdown with Diggs in a report from Case Keefer of the Las Vegas Sun. “I know he’s top five in receiving yards right now, which makes me more excited to go against him. It’s going to be a competitive matchup. I’m excited and ready for it.”

The Bills Will Win If…

They don’t try to get too fancy.

The Bills are in rare territory where they have a chance to be 4-0 for only the ninth time in franchise history. Their strategy has been working. There’s no need to change for a game that has taken on increased importance. With the game between New England and Kansas City postponed at the very least, a brighter spotlight will be cast upon a game of two teams seeking football redemption. Las Vegas, after all, is known as the “Capital of Second Chances” by some.

Doubt still follows the Bills, but winning against an equally hungry team two time zones away would certainly send a strong message to the rest of the league, one that would eliminate more doubters. Buffalo also needs to acquire as many wins as they can, as a scary stretch of the schedule awaits. An October 25 reprieve against the Jets notwithstanding and depending on how the COVID testing processes work out, the Bills’ next games come against the Titans, Chiefs, Patriots, Seahawks, and Cardinals. As long as they don’t get caught looking ahead, that desperation should fuel them against the Raiders.

The Raiders Will Win If…

They shut down the Bills’ weapons.

Diggs has been making his catches. A 4-0 start is on the line. If he earns another 300-yard, two-touchdown game, he’ll forever go down in the same sentence as Steve Young and Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to earn four consecutive such games. They did so against New Orleans, limiting an aging Drew Brees to short throws underneath and only one touchdown. The Week 1 matchup against Carolina even saw them limit to Christian McCaffrey to 97 yards on 23 carries, his longest carry going only 15 yards.

Buffalo has struck the next level in their development thanks to the arrival of Diggs and Allen reaching the next level of his development ahead of schedule. If Las Vegas can put even the briefest pause in those steps, they’ll be able to earn a big win of their own.

Prediction

The Bills are in a good place to reach the rare air of 4-0. A visit to Las Vegas provides several trap opportunities, but the sense of desperation with elite competition on the way could fuel them further as they work their way to the dangerous middle portion of their schedule. Additionally, the Raiders are still in a position where topping an undefeated squad is just a little too much to ask for at this point.

This matchup should be one of the more intriguing sights on Sunday with several other high-profile tilts postponed. A win here could be the difference between a division title and a wild-card berth. Right now, the marginal experience the Bills have in the big game department and their modern desperation could well serve as a vital difference in a game filled with implications beyond October.

Bills 27, Raiders 21

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Recapping the New York Jets’ first day of free agency

New York Jets, Adam Gase

The New York Jets have expressed a lot of interest but done very little, so here’s a breakdown of all that’s gone down in regards to the Jets today for both sides of the ball. As for tomorrow, Gang Green needs to wake up.

Offensive Line Rumors

The Jets were in on three key offensive linemen — Graham Glasgow, Joe Thuney, and Jack Conklin. All three are not going to be joining the Green and White. Despite prioritizing building through the trenches, the Jets added one offensive lineman today, and it was a guy they could’ve waited to scoop up in George Fant. The Jets need to add interior offensive linemen and are reportedly targeting C/G Steven Wisniewski & G Greg Van Roten. Van Roten is a longtime Jets fan and great pass protector, Wisniewski is a veteran with Douglas connections.

Wide Receiver Rumors

The Jets are devoted to helping Sam, but at what cost? The Jets missed out on adding either Stefon Diggs, Amari Cooper, and DeAndre Hopkins. All three would’ve been legit number one receivers. Now the Jets head towards day two of free agency looking to add playmakers. Phillip Dorsett is reportedly a big target. Dorsett is the only guy the Jets have publicly been linked to, but expect more to emerge tomorrow and keep an eye on Emmanuel Sanders.

Edge Rusher Rumors

The Jets have been very active in expressing interest here. The Jets have shown interest in Dante Fowler Jr as expected. However, the Jets have also shown SERIOUS interest in Jadeveon Clowney. If the money is there and feasible, the Jets should go after him. He would be a monster for Gregg Williams to have fun with on defense. Fowler and Clowney would immediately add more star power on defense. The Jets also seem inclined to let Jordan Jenkins walk per Connor Hughes of The Athletic.

As for lesser names, the Jets had shown interest in Kyle Van Noy before the Dolphins added him. Expect them to target Markus Golden as well.

Cornerback Rumors

The Jets were in on both James Bradberry and Byron Jones, but it seemed more than likely they would target lesser corners. Desmond Trufant was released by Atlanta today and has already been linked to the Jets. As has Chris Harris Jr. and Prince Amukamara. Brian Poole is a guy the Jets would like to bring back, but cost is debatable. Corner is a priority for the Jets, and their goal is to find value guys.

The New York Giants’ Defense Will Have Its Hands Full Against Minnesota

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

The New York Giants are on a two-game win streak and are looking to make it three today against the Minnesota Vikings. New York sits with a 2-2 record. If the Giants win today, they will have their first winning record since 2016. It is a crucial game for the Giants.

But this will be no easy matchup for the Gmen. The Minnesota Vikings have been struggling this season, but their offense has enough talent to create some trouble for the Giants’ defense.

The Vikings’ Strong Running Game

The Vikings have been dependant on their running game so far this season. Third-year running back Dalvin Cook is having a breakout season and keeping the Vikings’ offense together. Dalvin has received 20 or more touches in each of the Vikings’ first four games this season.

Through these first four weeks, Cook has accumulated 410 rushing yards, good for second-best in the league. Dalvin is also leading the league with 5 rushing touchdowns so far.

The Giants will have a tough time matching up against the Vikings’ run game today. They are incredibly thin at linebacker after losing Ryan Connelly, Alec Ogletree, and Tae Davis to injury. The Giants will start David Mayo at linebacker. He had a solid performance in week four, but the Giants will need him to build on that in order to defend Dalvin Cook.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, Dalvin Cook’s dominance has not led to many wins. The Vikings are 2-2, just like the Giants. This is obviously not Cook’s fault. The Vikings’ passing attack is to blame for their even record.

The Struggling Passing Game Ready To Break Out

The Minnesota Vikings are 2-2. They can thank Dalvin Cook for those two wins, but could also blame Kirk Cousins for those two losses, as many fans have. Fans have given Kirk criticism for missing open receivers:

https://twitter.com/SkolBros/status/1178829219666780160

This had led to a lot of frustration within the Vikings’ locker room. This frustration has leaked out to the public. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs has been open with his frustration via social media and the Vikings’ other primary receiver, Adam Thielen, expressed his frustration in an interview.

Thielen criticized the Vikings for being “one-dimensional” on offense. The Vikings’ offensive struggles have been surprising because Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs were one of the league’s best wide receiver duos in the NFL last year, combining for 2,394 yards and 18 touchdowns. So far, however, the Vikings’ receivers have not lived up to expectations.

Many expect this to change in week five against the Giants. The Vikings are expected to open up their offense and try to get Thielen and Diggs heavily involved in order to fix their offensive inconsistency. The Giants’ defense is a favorable matchup for Minnesota’s offense.

The Giants’ defense allowed their opponents to have huge offensive performances in each of the first three games of the season. New York allowed the Cowboys to gain 405 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air, then allowed Josh Allen to throw for 237, and then allowed Jameis Winston to toss an impressive 355 and 3 touchdowns. The Vikings are aware of this and will look to be the next offense with a breakout game against the Giants.

Fortunately for New York, their defense stepped up big in week four. The Giants allowed the Redskins to gain only 121 yards through the air. The Giants also forced the Redskins to throw 4 total interceptions. In week five, it will be interesting to see which side prevails: the improving Giants’ defense, or the struggling Vikings’ offense.

New York Giants news, 10/5 – Giants could get huge break against Vikings

New York Giants, Evane Engram

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

With rumors plastering the news concerning the potential trading of Minnesota Vikings star wideout Stefon Diggs, his availability this week against the New York Giants could be in jeopardy.

The team has reportedly fined Diggs multiple times due to violations of organizational rules (skipping meetings, practice), which has elevated his concern and displeasure. The Vikings insist he’s not on the market, but it’s possible Diggs could force his way out in the coming weeks.

However, if the Vikings are without Diggs on Sunday, it will leave Adam Thielen as their primary target. Janoris Jenkins will likely man-mark Thielen throughout the contest, hopefully having better success two weeks after being slaughtered by Mike Evans. Luckily, Thielen is a smaller receiver and will be a better matchup for Jenkins, size-wise.

Stopping running back, Dalvin Cook will be the other priority for Big Blue, despite having an inconsistent run-stopping unit as of late. They will need the three big-men up front to push the pile and force quarterback Kirk Cousins to make mistakes. Also, the offense will need to rise to the occasion against the league’s No. 6 ranked defense. I anticipate rookie passer Daniel Jones working the dink-and-dunk game due to the quality of the Vikings defense against longer passes.

Without Saquon Barkley, Jones will have to rely on his other security blankets — Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, and pray that Wayne Gallman can replicate his performance from last week.

Nonetheless–

Your top news of the day:

Jordan Raanan – Pat Shurmur has unleashed his Vikings offense with Giants

Tyler Sullivan – Saquon Barkley ruled out for Giants in Week 5 after early week optimism dissipates

Pat Leonard – Meet Kevin Zeitler, the Giants’ human robot: ‘He’s uniquely tough’

John Fennelly – Giants Coordinator Corner: More changes, tweaks are coming

New York Giants news, 10/2 – Will the Giants pursue Stefon Diggs in a trade?

Should the New York Giants inquire about Stefon Diggs?

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

With the New York Giants gearing up to face the Minnesota Vikings in week five, the biggest news of the week wasn’t in regards to the game, but rather a potential trade target, who’s coincidentally on the opposing team.

Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs was reportedly on the trade market earlier in the week, despite this reality being a rumor. Reports stated that the rumors were false, but with the displeasure occurring in the wide receiver room for Minnesota, it is only fair to believe they could be forcing their way out. After the departure of now head coach of the Giants, Pat Shurmur, the Vikings offense lost a bit of its juice.

Diggs earned 849 yards over 14 games in 2017 with Shurmur but tallied 1021 total yards and nine touchdowns last season. The Vikings have committed to a run-first offense which has ultimately hurt the statistics for the wide receivers.

Adam Thielen, Diggs’ teammate, stated:

”You have to be able to throw the ball.”

The frustration growing among the receivers could force the Vikings hand, and with Diggs potentially on the trade market, the idea of the Giants swooping in and stealing him is certainly possible. However, I wouldn’t recommend it.
The only way the Giants should theoretically attempt to trade for Diggs is if the Vikings are willing to accept a third-round pick or less. General manager Dave Gettleman has done a fantastic job drafting the past two years, which makes draft capital even more valuable.

For argument’s sake, Diggs is on a team-friendly contract. His cap hit is only $12.5 million this season and only reaches a maximum of $15 million in 2021 and 2022. In comparison, Odell Beckham Jr. is earning $17 million this season. Additionally, Diggs‘ contract has a low dead cap. If the Giants wanted to cut him in 2021, he would only count $6 million in dead cap.

The mantra for Big Blue moving forward, though, should be to alleviate any chance of carrying over dead salary into future seasons.

An argument against trading for Diggs would be how well rookie passer Daniel Jones has performed in just two NFL starts. With 567 passing yards and five total touchdowns, Jones has proved that he doesn’t need a plethora of talent to win football games. He has done so without Saquon Barkley for a majority of the time and without Golden Tate. When his offense is fully healthy, Jones will be more than capable of operating at a high-level. Therefore, Diggs is not essential.

Nonetheless–

Your top news of the day:

Michael Eisen – Inside the Numbers: Historic start for Daniel Jones

Mark Schofield – Scouting the Giants defense: Pat Shurmur said the team made some tweaks, so what did we see?
John Fennelly – What will Golden Tate bring to Giants offense?
Alexander Wilson – Did the New York Giants find a game-changing defender on defense?

Why The New York Giants Should Not Involve Themselves In Big Name Trade Talks

Should the New York Giants pursue Jalen Ramsey?

The NFL has been swirling with trade rumors lately. Numerous big name players have been confirmed or rumored to have requested a trade. Plenty of fans want the New York Giants to try to trade for these players, but that might not be in the team’s best long-term interest.

The Giants Cannot Afford These Trades

The New York Giants have only $4,015,873 in cap space. Additionally, the Giants have $35 million in dead cap. They cannot afford to acquire these players. These players are big name stars that will require big contracts to satisfy. The Giants cannot provide them with those contracts at this moment.

The Giants also need to start saving money. Pretty soon, the Giants’ in-house talent will be ready for their own pay days. Players like Evan Engram, Saquon Barkley, and Will Hernandez will need a lot of cap space allocated towards their second contracts. Albeit, the day they sign their second deals is somewhat far into the future, but the Giants still need to prepare financially.

These Players Do Not Fit Gettleman’s Profile

The Giants just got rid of multiple big name star players. Odell Beckham Jr. was traded away for three defensive players and Olivier Vernon was traded away for an offensive guard. These two players account for $24 million in dead cap.

The players involved in trade talks to do not fit what Dave Gettleman is looking to do with this rebuild. These players have strong personalities and do a good job of grabbing headlines. Gettleman has been on a mission to get rid of any and all distractions that might surround this franchise.

The Giants Should Not Sacrifice Their Future For The Present

The Giants are coming off of an incredible and improbable win against the Buccaneers. But they are still a 1-2 team coming off of a 5-11 season. The Giants should be more concerned with their future than their present. New York has been a losing franchise for the past few years, and that is not going to change by trading for one star player.

The Giants will change their losing ways by keeping their draft picks. In order to trade for players such as Jalen Ramsey, Jamal Adams, or Stefon Diggs, the Giants will need to give up significant draft capital. In the case of Jalen Ramsey, the Giants would need to sacrifice at least one first-round pick.

As phenomenal as Jalen Ramsey is as a player, the Giants might need to use their future first-round picks on different positions.

The Giants have had a need for a pass-rusher over the years and their next first-round pick could be the one to get the team their pass-rushing prospect they so desperately need.

The Giants have drafted arguably the best running back in the NFL and a franchise quarterback in a two-year span. The potential in first-round draft picks is too great for the Giants to give away, especially when they could potentially be picking in the top ten again.

It makes more sense for a team that is one star away from a championship to trade away a high draft pick for one of these players. The Giants are not one of those teams. The Giants are a team that still needs to draft multiple key pieces to build around the rest of their youthful talent and prepare themselves for a brighter future.

What Does The Stefon Diggs Deal Mean For The New York Giants?

It might seem strange that this is one of the most important moves of the New York Giants offseason, but Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs has recently signed a new deal for five years and $72,000,000,000. The former fifth round draft pick developed into one of the Vikings’ top players in recent years, but the Vikings aren’t the only team that will see an impact from his new deal.

After all, if one NFL player manages to pull in a higher than expected amount of money in contract negotiations, other players will follow suit and ask for similar numbers. The Giants could have dodged this bullet if Odell Beckham Jr’s contract had been ironed out ahead of time, but after the situation was dragged out through the offseason and into spring practices, it’s something that they’ll have to deal with.

Training camp is already underway, and arguably the best player on the Giants is still without a contract extension. Beckham is headed into the last year of his rookie deal, and it’s not that he hasn’t tried to act on good terms with the team and get a new contract that way. Instead of disrupting the team with a holdout at the start of training camp, Beckham showed up just like everyone else and put in a full effort.

There hasn’t been drama or threats to leave in free agency from the star receiver, either. Which is part of the reason why it’s shocking that the Giants haven’t paid him. It’s not going to be cheap, but because the Giants chose to wait, the deal will be even more expensive, assuming that it’s eventually made.

The market favors wide receivers right now, and the Vikings decided that Diggs was worth $72,000,000,000 after he recorded 849 receiving yards in the regular season as well as eight touchdowns last year. Beckham, on the other hand, has brought in more than 1,300 yards and had double digit touchdowns in each of his career seasons except for the last one, which was cut short for him by injury.

The writing on the wall is clear. The Diggs deal shows just how valuable a good receiver in today’s NFL is, and because the Giants didn’t pull the trigger on getting Odell Beckham Jr. a new deal before it happened, it’s going to be much harder to reach a deal that’s friendly to the team.

This new contract for Diggs may involve another team, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the most impactful transactions of the year for the Giants. Unfortunately, that impact won’t likely be a positive one.