Buffalo @ Washington (+6.5)
Power rankings: Buffalo 4, Washington 17
Keys to the game - when Buffalo has the ball:
Josh Allen predictably bounced back last week, completing 83.8% of his passes and gaining 7.4 yards per attempt while keeping the ball off the ground. The offense has largely remained unchanged from previous seasons -- they'll rely on Allen to make big plays both via the air (via Stef Diggs) and on the ground. Washington can take advantage in the trenches where their deep line is a mismatch against the Bills weak offensive line. Outside of LT Dion Dawkins, there isn't much capable of stopping any number of the Commanders defensive front. Washington got a further boost to the line when Chase Young returned last week, who registered an impressive 7 pressures and 2 sacks on 31 pass rushing snaps. Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, and Jonathan Allen also bring a wealth of experience and productivity to Washington's defensive front. Washington's weakness comes from the secondary, which doesn't have much outside of CB Kendall Fuller. They need to keep consistent pressure on Allen with their front 4 and do their best to limit big plays, which Allen thrives on.
When Washington has the ball:
QB Sam Howell, a 2022 5th round pick out of UNC, has demonstrated remarkable composure as a starter. Howell's completion rate stands at an impressive 65.7%, accompanied by a solid 7.2 yards per attempt, earning him a respectable 67 PFF grade. While it's premature to draw definitive conclusions about Howell, especially given his initial matchups against the likes of Arizona and Denver, Washington fans have reason to be optimistic about his early performance.
The Commanders flaunt an underrated offensive line, a true WR1 in Terry McLaurin, and dependable options in Josh Dotson, Curtis Samuel, and Antonio Gibson. While not an intimidating offensive force, they possess enough firepower to make a meaningful impact. However, their upcoming match against Buffalo presents a formidable challenge. The Bills boast a strong defensive front featuring Greg Rousseau, DaQuan Jones, and Ed Oliver. In this particular matchup, the battle between Rousseau and RT Andrew Wylie raises some concerns.
On the defensive side, Buffalo's Matt Milano stands out as one of the league's premier linebackers, and the safety duo of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer is arguably unmatched across the NFL. The cornerback unit, led by Tre'Davious White, has been less stellar, especially considering White's performance since his ACL tear in November 2021. Nonetheless, this remains a top-tier defense up against a moderate offensive threat.