The Bills are 16.5 point underdogs against the Vikings this Sunday. According to Pro-Football Reference, the team's only been a bigger dog twice since 1970:
- 17 point underdog 10/28/84 at Miami (Lost 38-7)
- 17.5 point underdog 12/22/85 at Miami (Lost 28-0)
ESPN's Mike Rodak dives deeper into the historic precedent of this big a spread.
Safety Micah Hyde was surprised Wednesday when he heard the number while head coach Sean McDermott said Friday he understands why his team is doubted, citing their youth.
I think I can map out more than youth as reasons Sunday will be quite the tall task to even cover the spread in Minneapolis.
LeSean McCoy's status is up in the air as he deals with a rib cartilage injury suffered last week. It is all about pain management, with McCoy saying Wednesday he is more effected by the pain when he tries running full speed rather than the fear of getting hit. He was wearing padding in the rib area during practice on Thursday, but that can only protect him so much.
McDermott says the decision on Shady will be collaborative between the coaches, medical staff, and McCoy, but ultimately it will be the running back's decision whether or not to try and go against the Vikings. If out, Marcus Murphy likely shoulders the majority of the load, with Chris Ivory getting touches as well.
Changes Up Front?
McDermott not showing his hand in regards to the offensive line, once again saying Friday changes could be made, but not going into any further detail. It is a unit that has allowed 11 sacks through two games, third most in the NFL. But offensive coordinator Brian Daboll coming to the defense of those guys on Monday, saying "more than half" of those sacks are not on the offensive line. Either way, protection needs to be better and if a change is made I would think it could be sliding Russell Bodine in at center and moving Ryan Groy to one of the guard spots, likely RG for John Miller.
Vonate Davis' mid-game exit still having effects on the Bills entering this game against the Vikings because of how banged-up they are at cornerback. It's unknown whether Taron Johnson (shoulder) or Phillip Gaines (elbow) will play, leaving that group with just Tre'Davious White, Lafayette Pitts, and Ryan Lewis, who was brought up from the practice squad this week. Safeties Rafael Bush and Siran Neal have seen time at the nickel the first two weeks as injuries have occurred at CB, but that is not how McDermott would ideally like to play things. Making matters worse, Minnesota's passing offense is high-powered with the addition of Kirk Cousins throwing to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
McDermott Makes the Calls
The Bills defense could not have been worse the first 6 quarters of the season, allowing 75 points on 653 yards. But McDermott took over play-calling duties from coordinator Leslie Frazier in the second half against the Chargers and that move results in a drastic change in results, allowing just 3 points on 65 total yards. McDermott says play-calling will be a "team effort" moving forward between he and Frazier. The players I spoke with this week attribute the change on the field more so to themselves saying "enough is enough" more so than a new voice making the calls. Whatever it was that sparked that second half performance last week needs to be found again against a Vikes offense averaging 411.5 yards a game.
Allen's Second Start
Hard to believe it only took three weeks to push Josh Allen this far down the storyline tree, but here we are. Looking back at his first career start, Allen quite possibly exceeded expectations by going 18/33 for 245 yards a touchdown and two interceptions. Looking back at my article on what to expect from Allen based on 1st round QBs of the past decade, Allen's 245 yards passing was better than 21 of the 29 quarterbacks I looked at (Trubisky, Watson, Goff, Lynch, Prescott, Winston, Mariota, Manziel, Carr, Manuel, Tannehill, Weeden, Wilson, Gabbert, Ponder, Dalton, Tebow, Stafford, Ryan, Flacco). Of course the two INTs showed the growing pains that will continue throughout the season, but overall I was encouraged by what Allen showed. The Vikings defense, and secondary in particular, is one of the elite in the NFL. Add into that this being Allen's first road game as the starter and a similar performance from a week ago should be considered good.
Bills and Vikings kick-off Sunday at 1 p.m. ET from Minneapolis.