The key matchup this week is the Bills run game against the Lions run defense. And it’s not even a running back the Lions have to worry about. Right now there isn’t another quarterback in the NFL running the ball as effectively as Josh Allen.
The rookie quarterback leads the Bills with 490 rushing yards and five touchdowns in 2018. They have seemingly found a way to use Allen’s athleticism to their advantage in the run game.
The Lions, on the other hand, have quietly become one of the NFL’s best run defenses.
Over the past five weeks, the Lions have given up 71.6 yards per game and just under 3.5 yards per carry—both good for third in the NFL.
And so far this season the Lions have done a good job at limiting mobile quarterbacks.
- Aaron Rodgers (3 carries, 10 yards)
- Dak Prescott (3 carries, 2 yards)
- Russell Wilson (2 carries, 15 yards)
- Mitchell Trubisky (3 carries, 18 yards)
- Cam Newton (2 carries, 2 yards)
Josh Allen is a whole new challenge in Week 15. In his last three games alone he’s put up 99, 135, and 101 yards on the ground.
“Obviously a very dangerous guy,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said of Allen. “He’s right up there with a lot of the other great running quarterbacks in the league right now. We’ve seen a couple this year, but he’s doing a phenomenal job right now of just turning those really nothing plays into some really big or just huge plays for the offense.”
The Lions will need to continue their strength of stopping mobile quarterbacks if they hope to win in Buffalo.
The Buffalo Bills currently sit at 4-9 on the season. Their offense isn’t going to scare anyone (31st in DVOA), though their defense is quietly one of the best in the entire league (third in DVOA).
Bills’ biggest threat
The Bills defense has high-quality players across all three levels, but it all starts up front. Jerry Hughes may not be a guy you think about as a dominant pass rusher. This probably has to do with his limited sack numbers—notching only six so far in 2018.
But he belongs in the conversation as a top edge rusher in the league. This season Hughes has been bringing pressure at an incredible rate.
Dee Ford leads all edge defenders in total pressures this season. pic.twitter.com/wDrdw531Qn— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 7, 2018
Much like last week against the Cardinals and Chandler Jones, the Lions will have to make sure one player doesn’t wreck the game.
Bills’ weak link
The Bills top rusher right now is their quarterback.
LeSean McCoy left last week’s game with a hamstring issue and is currently day-to-day with that injury.
Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) returned to practice Thursday and said afterward, "Felt good. Out there with my teammates. Getting loose. Trying to get comfortable again." Coach Sean McDermott said, "He picked it up a little bit today. We'll see as we... https://t.co/rG13d3nOK0— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) December 13, 2018
McCoy has not looked great this season (145 carries for 479 yards), and if he’s unable to play on Sunday, that leaves Chris Ivory as the Bills best running back option.
The Lions haven’t won in Buffalo in the regular season since 1991. Expect to see a low-scoring game that could feature more Josh Allen rushing than passing. I like the Lions chances of bottling up a banged up Bills’ rushing attack, and despite a bad back, I trust Matthew Stafford more than Josh Allen.
Lions 20 Bills 10