This was alleged to be the beginning of back-to-back homecoming weeks at Highmark Stadium for former Buffalo Payments quarterbacks.
Within the offseason, Ryan Fitzpatrick grew to become Washington’s starter after signing a free agent deal to interchange retired Alex Smith, and Tyrod Taylor took over in Houston with DeShaun Watson in authorized bother.
The Payments will see neither of them. As a substitute, Buffalo will get Taylor Heinicke Sunday as a result of Fitzpatrick is sidelined by a hip damage, and subsequent week, Tyrod will nonetheless be on injured reserve because of a pulled hamstring so the chances are high that Buffalo will face somebody named Davis Mills.
After all, coach Sean McDermott worries about every thing, so despite the fact that the 28-year-old Heinicke has made solely three NFL begins, he mentioned of the previous Outdated Dominion standout, “Don’t underestimate him. He’s an excellent quarterback.”
OK, properly, that looks as if a attain, no less than proper now.
Heinicke went undrafted in 2015, bounced across the injured lists and apply squads of the Vikings, Patriots and Texans earlier than lastly getting right into a recreation in 2017 with Houston, throwing one cross. He moved to the Panthers – then led by present Washington coach Ron Rivera – in 2018 and in his first regular-season NFL begin in Week 16, he suffered an elbow damage that required surgical procedure which stored him out of soccer in 2019.
Rivera introduced him to Washington in 2020 and he was compelled into motion late within the yr when Smith bought harm and Dwayne Haskins was benched, and he ended up beginning the Soccer Staff’s 31-23 playoff loss to Tampa Bay, throwing for 306 yards.
“You have a look at the Tampa Bay recreation, the wild card recreation towards the eventual world champions, and he’s inside a rating there within the fourth quarter of profitable,” mentioned McDermott. “He could make all of the throws. He’s cellular, he’ll be a problem.”
He was definitely a problem for the Giants final week as he threw for 336 yards and led Washington to a game-winning area aim drive within the closing two minutes.
However that New York protection isn’t almost as strong because the Payments’ unit which is coming off a shutout efficiency in Miami and has allowed solely 16 factors this season, so Heinicke will definitely be put to the check in a tricky highway atmosphere.
Right here’s what must be performed for the Payments to win the sport:
1. Deal with Washington line of defense
There will not be a extra proficient entrance 4 within the NFL than the one Washington has with edge rushers Chase Younger and Montez Sweat and tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. All 4 are first-round picks and the oldest of the group is Allen at 27. Final yr they mixed for 21.5 sacks, 9 compelled fumbles and 5 recoveries.
“Statistically final yr they have been very comparable by way of attending to the quarterback, and so they’ve bought some actually good younger gamers up entrance,” mentioned Payments QB Josh Allen. “All the best way round, guys that may get after the ball. They’ve bought pace on the sides. They’ve bought a knack for getting the ball out.”
The Payments’ offensive line was manhandled by Pittsburgh’s excellent entrance 4 within the opener, then bounced again towards Miami’s much less proficient group. Sunday, it’s proper again into the hearth and the one matchup to observe entails Younger, the No. 2 general choose in 2020. He primarily rushes from the left aspect so he’ll be going towards RT Daryl Williams. Williams had a tricky time with T.J. Watt, and Younger goes to be a handful, too.
That mentioned, Allen has really been essentially the most disruptive drive up entrance as Professional Soccer Focus has him with 9 pressures and three sacks within the first two video games. Allen sometimes strains up on the fitting aspect of the protection, that means he’ll be matched up with Payments LG Jon Feliciano who has been a weak hyperlink up to now.
2. Josh Allen must discover a rhythm
The Payments’ QB is off to a gradual begin as he has accomplished simply 56% of his passes for 449 yards and he spoke this week about making higher choices. “I’ve bought to seek out methods to be higher … whether or not it’s discovering the examine down early and simply making an attempt to get right into a rhythm, right into a groove early on.”
That truly can be a prudent technique on this recreation as a result of one approach to neutralize a fierce cross rush is to make the most of the short passing recreation. The Payments ought to take a web page out of the Steelers’ playbook and get the ball out of Allen’s hand rapidly.
Cole Beasley is the primary man to take a look at in that state of affairs as he’ll in all probability see loads of common NCB Kendall Fuller who’s permitting a completion share of 73.0 up to now. Final week, New York’s Sterling Shepard caught 5 balls towards Fuller for 44 yards. The opposite corners, William Jackson and Benjamin St-Juste, shouldn’t instill concern both.
Maybe Isaiah McKenzie will get a extra featured look. He’s solely been on the sector for 17 cross snaps in two video games with two targets and one catch for one yard. Clearly, Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders can win early on their routes, and in the event that they do it sufficient, it ought to open some alternatives down the sector if Washington’s DBs begin to cheat up.
3. Buffalo Payments must make the most of Washington O-line
Final week the Payments entrance dominated a nasty Miami offensive line, and the chance shall be there once more as Washington’s unit features a rookie RT in Sam Cosmi who has struggled in cross safety, and LT Charles Leno and LG Ereck Flowers who haven’t been stout within the run recreation.
A.J. Epenesa and Greg Rousseau are coming off their greatest NFL video games as every had eight pressures. Epenesa had the knockout hit on Tua Tagovailoa, and Rousseau racked up his first two sacks. Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes have additionally contributed some stress.
Nearly as good because the entrance 4 was, it was helped by the Payments’ blitz packages which have been excellent towards the Dolphins. Heinicke is extra cellular than Tua or Jacoby Brissett, however the Payments shouldn’t again off on blitzing. Matt Milano is without doubt one of the greatest LBs within the NFL on blitzes, and coordinator Leslie Frazier typically exhibits nice creativity in sending DBs like Taron Johnson, Jordan Poyer and Tre’Davious White.
4. Get a deal with on WR Terry McLaurin
This Washington offense is devoid of big-time playmakers with one exception: McLaurin is without doubt one of the greatest wideouts within the league. He has 15 catches for 169 yards and a TD, and the Payments might want to restrict the harm he can produce as a result of Heinicke doesn’t have many extra choices.
Adam Humphries is a shifty slot WR a lot the best way Beasley is, simply with much less manufacturing. With out injured WR Curtis Samuel, Washington is counting on speedy rookie Dyami Brown who isn’t fairly prepared for a chief function and has simply 4 catches for 32 yards. And TE Logan Thomas, the ex-Invoice, will make catches however they’re often for brief yardage positive factors.
Washington will probably attempt to run Antonio Gibson who’s averaging 4.8 yards per try, however the Payments have been wonderful so far and have allowed simply 3.6 yards per try primarily dealing with Najee Harris of Pittsburgh and Myles Gaskin of Miami.
McLaurin is the important thing. The 2019 third-round choose has performed 31 NFL video games and his 2,206 yards receiving are essentially the most in Washington historical past in that time-frame. He could be harmful downfield, however what he’s significantly adept at is yards after the catch. Restrict him, and Washington will sputter.
5. Different key factors to think about in Buffalo Payments vs. Washington matchup
► On the damage entrance, it appears to be like as DT Star Lotulelei (groin) will have the ability to play. And CBs Levi Wallace (knee) and Dane Jackson (knee) are listed as questionable however will probably be accessible.
► The Payments have allowed just one TD in six opponent journeys contained in the purple zone which is No. 1 within the league.
► The protection has pitched back-to-back first-half shutouts for the primary time since 1999. Sadly, there was that second half towards the Steelers. They haven’t performed this three straight video games since 1974. As for a full recreation shutout, the Payments have by no means had two in a row.
► Washington’s protection has allowed eight performs of no less than 20 yards, 5 of these final week towards the Giants.
► That is the seventeenth recreation on the brand new schedule for the Payments as every staff performs an opponent from the opposite convention that completed in an analogous place in 2020. Washington gained the NFC East final yr.
Sal’s prediction: Buffalo Payments 27, Washington Soccer Staff 14
That is going to be a typical theme this season, however for the third week in a row, there’s little question in my thoughts the Payments are the higher staff. They’ve clear reduce benefits on either side of the ball, and the one method they might lose is that if they endure a sloppy, mistake-laden day within the type of expensive turnovers.
The Buffalo protection has performed very properly and I can see Tre’Davious White locking on to McLaurin and no less than limiting his influence on the sport, whereas the Payments cross rush can get after Heinicke and drive him to make fast choices and probably some errors.
On offense, it’s all concerning the Payments line. It’s a nasty matchup throughout the board, but when the Payments can get Devin Singletary and Zack Moss happening the bottom, and Josh Allen can harm Washington with some quick passes, the Payments ought to have the ability to maintain drives and rating.
Methods to watch, the place to take heed to the Buffalo Payments vs Washington recreation
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
The place: Highmark Stadium
Community TV: FOX (Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Jennifer Hale)
Satellite tv for pc radio: Sirius 83, XM 225
Radio: 96.5 FM/950 AM
Collection: Payments lead 9-6 counting playoffs.
Tipico betting line: Payments -7.5
► Washington coach Ron Rivera on the Payments: “They’re a measuring stick. Once you speak about groups which have alternatives yearly now to compete and do some nice issues, that is one in every of them. So, it is best to measure your self to the nice groups on this league proper now, the groups which can be actually good. In order that’s how we really feel. We really feel like we’re developing towards a measuring stick and actually sort of see the place we’re and the way far we’ve to go.”
► Washington DT Jonathan Allen on the protection: “We simply should do higher. It isn’t like the problems are we’re simply not adequate. We clearly have the expertise. We simply bought to concentrate on the little issues, and actually, thank God our offense was there to avoid wasting us time and time once more.”
► Washington WR Terry McLaurin on QB Taylor Heinicke: “He is very calm and he is direct as properly. No one goes to get confused after they go into the huddle with Taylor, from the safety to the snap counts to what receivers’ routes are. He does a very good job of talking loud and clear and placing us in a terrific state of affairs to achieve success.”
NFL rankings for Buffalo Payments and Washington Soccer Staff
Payments Soccer Staff
Whole offense: 342.5 yards (twenty first); 333.0 (twenty second)
Rush offense: 130.0 yards (sixth); 106.5 (twentieth)
Cross offense: 212.5 (twenty sixth); 226.5 (twentieth)
Factors scored: 25.5 (twelfth); 23.0 (T16th)
Whole protection: 234.0 yards (2nd); 407.5 (twenty fifth)
Rush protection: 73.0 yards (seventh); 126.5 (twenty third)
Cross protection: 161.0 yards (2nd); 281.0 (twenty fourth)
Factors allowed: 11.5 (T2nd); 24.5 (sixteenth)
Buffalo Payments and Washington Particular person leaders
Payments: Devin Singletary 24 carries, 154 yards; Josh Allen 14-79; Zack Moss 8-26; Matt Breida 4-4; Reggie Gilliam 2-2.
Soccer Staff: Antonio Gibson 33-159; Taylor Heinicke 7-23; J.D. McKissic 5-18; Jarrett Patterson 2-9.
Payments: Josh Allen 47 of 84, 449 yards, 3 TD, 1 interception.
Soccer Staff: Taylor Heinicke 45 of 61, 458 yards, 3 TDs, 1 interception.
Payments: Stefon Diggs 9 catches, 69 yards; Cole Beasley 8-60; Emmanuel Sanders 4-52; Dawson Knox 4-41; Devin Singletary 3-8; Gabriel Davis 2-40.
Soccer Staff: Terry McLaurin 15-169; Adam Humphries 9-54; Logan Thomas 8-75; J.D. McKissic 5-83; Antonio Gibson 5-22; Dyami Brown 4-32.
2021 Buffalo Payments schedule
9/12 vs. Steelers L 16-23
9/19 at Dolphins W 35-0
9/26 vs. Washington, 1 p.m.
10/3 vs. Texans, 1 p.m.
10/10 at Chiefs, 8:20 p.m.
10/18 at Titans, 8:15 p.m.
10/24 Bye week
10/31 vs. Dolphins, 1 p.m.
11/7 at Jaguars, 1 p.m.
11/14 at Jets, 1 p.m
11/21 vs. Colts, 1 p.m
11/25 at Saints, 8:20 p.m.
12/6 vs. Patriots, 8:15 p..m
12/12 at Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m.
12/19 vs. Panthers, TBD
12/26 at Patriots, 1 p.m.
1/2 vs. Falcons, 1 p.m.
1/9 vs. Jets, 1 p.m.
Sal Maiorana could be reached at email@example.com. Comply with him on Twitter @salmaiorana.