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Bills have Josh Allen problem, Patrick Mahomes MVP and more


The Buffalo Bills lost for the second straight week, and while there are a few issues to tackle, the biggest is Josh Allen needing to do it all.

The Buffalo Bills have gained 3,817 yards this season. Josh Allen has accounted for 3,209 of them.

For those mathematically challenged, Allen is responsible for 84.1 percent of Buffalo’s offense. In terms of overall team yardage, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a close second at an alarming 82.7 percent. After Mahomes comes Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson, at 75.7 and 75.2 percent for their Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens, respectively.

Allen is being asked to do everything for the Bills, and it’s starting to overwhelm him.

After a scorching start, Allen has become increasingly reckless and decreasingly effective. The Bills’ superstar has thrown 10 interceptions, the most in the league. Over the past 10 quarters, Allen has had seven turnovers. Relatedly, Buffalo is 1-2 over its last three games.

Despite having a quality running back in Devin Singletary, Buffalo relies on Allen to provide offense in every capacity. Alongside Jackson, he’s the only quarterback leading his team in rushing, amassing 476 ground yards.

This is the biggest impediment to the Bills finally winning their first Super Bowl.

Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only eight teams have reached the postseason with their quarterback leading the offense in rushing yardage (incredibly, the Eagles doing it five times).

Of them, none reached even the conference title game.

The lesson is even the best teams need more than a singular superstar propelling them to greatness. It takes a band, not only the singer. Buffalo has the ultimate weapon in Allen, but when asked to fire repeatedly, the odds of a malfunction increase.

Over the last three games, the malfunctions are short-circuiting the team.

Early in the season, Buffalo’s defense was a machine, able to keep Allen in advantageous situations. Now, the injuries are piling up and production is declining.

Safety Micah Hyde is out for the year. His partner, Jordan Power, is week-to-week with an elbow injury. Edge rusher Greg Rousseau has the same timeline with an ankle ailment. Star linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano have been playing hurt over the past few games. Star corner Tre’Davious White still hasn’t returned from a torn ACL suffered last Thanksgiving.

With Buffalo’s defense hurting, Allen has needed to make more plays under pressure. Unfortunately for the Bills, it’s not happening. Over the past three weeks, Buffalo has been outscored 43-12 in second halves and overtime.

To rediscover themselves, the Bills need to develop around Allen. They must find a run game rooted in Singletary, rookie James Cook, and the newly-acquired Nyheim Hines. They must get healthier on defense, allowing the offense to play at less of a break-neck pace, and forgiving the unit for a few punts.

If not, and Allen is continually asked to be Buffalo’s constant epicenter, history says the Bills will be short for January.

Power rankings

Top 10 remaining regular-season matchups

1. Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, Week 16
2. Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills, Week 16
3. Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals, Week 18
4. San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, Week 15 (TNF)
5. Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals, Week 13
6. Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals, Week 17 (MNF)
7. Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, Week 14
8. Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers, Week 14
9. Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots, Week 13 (TNF)
10. Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, Week 11 (SNF)

Quotable

“I mean aside from my legs feeling like wet noodles. That was about it.”

– Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt on how he felt returning after two months away

Pittsburgh beat the New Orleans Saints, 20-10, and got back its best player in Watt, who missed the last seven games with a pectoral injury. Watt only had four tackles and a QB hit, but his presence will be increasingly felt in the coming weeks.

At 3-6, the Steelers aren’t in the playoff picture, but their enhanced defense could play spoiler over the next few months.

Podcast

Random stat

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady holds the all-time record for road postseason victories with 11, including eight with the New England Patriots.

However, you might be surprised at who sits tied in second. While Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach is one half of the equation with eight such wins, current New York Jets backup Joe Flacco is the other half, earning each victory with the Baltimore Ravens.

Info learned this week

1. Two plays should give Packers hope after win over Cowboys

Aaron Rodgers showed he’s not emotionally done yet. It was on display in overtime.

On 3rd and 1 at Green Bay’s 44-yard line, Rodgers whipped a bullet to receiver Allen Lazard, who caught a quick slant and raced 36 yards to the Dallas 20. Rodgers was celebrating on his way down the field. The next play saw a handoff to running back Aaron Jones. When Jones cut and ran left, he found Rodgers as a lead blocker, throwing himself into a defender. Afterwards, the reigning two-time MVP flexed, then watched kicker Mason Crosby nail a game-winning field goal.

Perhaps those two snapshots are only that, lost to a forgettable season. Or, maybe they’re part of a larger turning point for Green Bay, as it desperately tries to revive its campaign.

Furthermore, the Packers finally dedicated themselves to their true identity. Against Dallas, Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur called 37 runs against 22 passes. It worked beautifully, with Rodgers throwing for 11.2 yards per attempt while the rushing attack produced 207 yards on 5.3 yards per carry.

Green Bay has a long road back, but Rodgers appears invested, and the formula has been found.

2. Niners apply clamps to Herbert, Chargers in second half

Great teams adjust at halftime. The San Francisco 49ers put on a clinic Sunday night.

Trailing 16-10 at the break against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Niners out-gained Los Angeles 198-57 over the final 30 minutes, rallying to win 22-16. San Francisco ran for 111 yards over that stretch, while defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ unit limited Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert to 35 yards and an interception on 7-of-13 passing.

With the win, San Francisco pulls within a half-game of the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC West lead.

For the Niners, the path now becomes easier. After playing five road games over its first nine contests, San Francisco will play either at home or a neutral site for the next four weeks, with only two remaining affairs at hostile stadiums.

As for the Chargers, they’re now two games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West with a Week 2 rematch against Patrick Mahomes and Co. next Sunday night. Even with a win, Los Angeles is likely looking at fighting for a wild card berth in the crowded AFC. Again.

3. Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins are putting NFL on notice

If you don’t fear the Miami Dolphins offense, it’s one of two reasons. You either don’t watch football, or you’re a Dolphins fan.

On Sunday, Miami earned a 39-17 thrashing of the Cleveland Browns. Tagovailoa threw for 285 yards and three scores, while the Dolphins rolled up a casual 491 total yards. The Dolphins are now 7-3 and leading the AFC East, only a half-game back for the conference’s best record. And next week? The Houston Texans come to South Beach.

While much of the credit has been given to receiver Tyreek Hill, Tagovailoa deserves a bevy of praise. The Browns limited Hill to only 44 yards, and yet Tagovailoa sprayed the ball around, with seven receivers having multiple receptions.

With first-year head coach Mike McDaniel calling plays, Miami has continuously kept teams off-balance and under siege. To that point, McDaniel’s ability to scheme the run game is providing Tagovailoa time behind a suspect front. The Dolphins rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns against Cleveland, consistently putting them ahead of the sticks. The result was two quarterback hits and zero sacks.

Everybody knows the Bills and Chiefs are terrific. Watch out for Miami.

4. Patrick Mahomes takes hold of MVP race with another top game

Patrick Mahomes is the NFL MVP as we barrel toward Thanksgiving.

Yes, Jalen Hurts has an argument. Yes, Tagovailoa has been phenomenal. Those are the other candidates rounding out the top three. But Mahomes is on pace to shatter the single-season passing record, and might not need all 17 games.

On Sunday, Mahomes threw for 331 yards (9.5 YPA) with four touchdowns and one interception in a 27-17 win for the Chiefs over the Jacksonville Jaguars. For the year, the ’19 MVP has amassed 2,936 passing yards and 25 touchdowns against seven picks.

The 17-game pace: 5,545 yards, 47 TDs, 13 INTs

For those wondering, Peyton Manning set the current mark with the ’13 Denver Broncos with 5,477 yards.

Additionally, Mahomes and the Chiefs are atop the AFC standings with a 7-2 mark. They also have two more primetime games, giving Mahomes a chance to further showcase to the nation.

There are still eight games remaining, but Mahomes is undeniably in the lead for more hardware.

5. Eagles must keep winning with pressure from NFC contenders

The Philadelphia Eagles are 8-0. A loss on Monday night, even to the middling Washington Commanders, would normally be waved off with little concern.

However, with the NFC keeping the pressure on, the Eagles have to keep up their winning ways.

After seeing the Giants and Vikings win, Philadelphia must win or only lead the NFC East by one game while falling into a tie for the conference’s top seed (albeit holding the tiebreaker). While the schedule is favorable for the Eagles, they also have three games remaining with New York (2x) and Dallas. In short, every win is critical for a Philadelphia team trying to earn the bye.

Ultimately, only a fool would chastise the Eagles for losing their first game in November, but the impact would remain significant.

Two cents

Justin Fields isn’t only an ascending star, he’s must-watch television.

Even in a 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions — the first road win for head coach Dan Campbell in his tenure — Fields largely shined. While we can’t ignore his ill-advised pick-six to former Ohio State teammate Jeff Okudah, Fields otherwise posted 147 rushing yards and two touchdowns along with 167 passing yards and two additional scores.

Fields is throwing to an underwhelming group, with only tight end Cole Kmet and receiver Darnell Mooney notching more than one catch. The Bears struggle to block as well, often leaving Fields to fend off a few rushers before turning a loss into a nice profit. Over the past six weeks, few have been better at elevating their team.

Over said stretch, Fields has totaled 1,620 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Bears are 1-5.

Chicago has myriad problems to solve. For the first time since Sid Luckman, the quarterback isn’t one of them.

Inside the league

Josh McDaniels might get to survive this mess in Las Vegas, but he shouldn’t.

The Raiders are 2-7 after losing to the woeful Indianapolis Colts at home this weekend, giving interim head coach Jeff Saturday an improbable victory. After investing a total of $489 million this offseason in contracts for quarterback Derek Carr, edge rushers Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby, receivers Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, and tight end Darren Waller, only the Houston Texans have fewer wins.

Additionally, it’s one thing to lose. It’s another thing to embarrass. Sunday’s loss to the Colts falls into the latter category. Owner Mark Davis has to be furious with this season, and melting down against Indianapolis to the boos of a home crowd is only increasing the rage felt by Raiders Nation.

After the loss, Carr had a tearful press conference where he lamented the lack of heart from some of his teammates. He’s been around for almost a decade, and nary a postseason win.

Carr is a solid quarterback and a tremendous leader. He’s long been the Raiders’ mouthpiece through tough times. He’s clearly fed up. And while he professed his love for the coaching staff, any team without guys bought in and losing like this is about the coaches first and foremost.

Many around the league believe McDaniels will get another shot in ’23, but he doesn’t deserve it.

BetSided‘s best bet

Bengals -4.5 at Steelers

The Steelers are back! Or are they?

Despite Mike Tomlin’s incredible record vs. the spread as a home underdog (17-3-3), along with their resounding victory over the Saints in Week 10, all the early movement has gone towards the Bengals. Depending on where you look, the 4.5 to 5-point spread is the largest point spread the Bengals have ever had in Pittsburgh, and just the third time in history Cincinnati has even been favored in Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati’s best game of the year came in Week 9 leading into their bye, in large part because of how much better they protected Joe Burrow, and opening up Joe Mixon’s role in the offense for five total touchdowns. If they can keep T.J. Watt at bay and not have to deal with Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers will be outmatched on both sides of the ball.

– Ben Heisler 

History lesson

The city of St. Louis had football for decades before the Rams showed up but never saw a postseason game before its own eyes.

The Cardinals moved from Chicago to St. Louis prior to the 1960 season but despite playing 28 seasons in the Gateway to the West, only made three playoff appearances and each game was on the road.

In ’95, the Rams relocated from Los Angeles and made the postseason as the NFC’s top seed in 1999. After beating the Vikings and Buccaneers at home, Kurt Warner and Co. dispatched the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Parting shot

Al Michaels could barely hide his contempt about the classic game between the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers during last week’s Amazon telecast.

Michaels has broadcasted a hideous slate this year after coming over from NBC. This fact hasn’t been lost on the viewers of Thursday Night Football, who have largely tuned out in recent weeks.

According to Sports Media Watch, the Panthers-Falcons game did a paltry 3.3 rating, the lowest mark for TNF in two years. Additionally, it’s the fourth time in six weeks the series has collected its worst number of the season.

But while fans continue screaming for better matchups, there’s little the NFL can do.

Unlike Sundays and Mondays, there’s no feasible flexing option for the schedule. Furthermore, any team playing on a short week more than once would have a significant competitive disadvantage, making it a necessity to have each team showcased only once.

Of course, the NFL can’t love the ratings but also isn’t worrying about the series’ viability. Amazon is in the first season of its 11-year, $11 billion pact with the league for Thursday nights. And while the ratings are sagging, it’s likely the numbers will improve long-term as more fans subscribe to Amazon Prime and stream the games from home.

Still, the product has been awful this season, and fans are showing their displeasure.





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