It's Now or Never for Buffalo: Bills vs. Panthers Preview
Written by: Alex James
Photo Credit: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
The ending of the Bills vs Bucs game Sunday afternoon left a sour taste in the mouths of Bills fans as questionable missed calls forced the game into overtime and was ultimately the demise of an incredible Buffalo comeback. The Bucs led the Bills 24-3 at halftime, only for Josh Allen to lead the Bills in an heroic comeback putting up 24 unanswered points, only to fall short 33-27. With the loss, the Bills are now 7-6, and holding onto the final AFC wildcard position with 4 games remaining on the season.
Josh Allen’s incredible performance was bittersweet in the end after he injured his ankle in the second half; Allen continued on though, passing for 300+ yards and rushing for 100+ yards on the day, proving his worth once again. Fans will breathe a small sigh of relief as Allen is practicing this week and it's likely he’ll be ready for Sunday when the Carolina Panthers come into town. While the loss was distasteful, there are positives to take from the 2nd half of football the Bills displayed, and building off this will be critical to end the 2-game losing streak against Carolina.
Statistics from ESPN.com
The Panthers (5-8) are coming off a 29-21 defeat against a divisional rival in the Atlanta Falcons, making it their 3rd loss in a row and will be looking to get in the win column again in Orchard Park. Carolina is currently 4th in their division and at the bottom of the NFC, however remain only one game out of a wildcard spot. Sunday’s game is very important for both teams and Buffalo will not expect this game to be a cake-walk against an under-500 team.
Analyzing the Bills loss against the Bucs and where improvement is needed, it seems that once the Bills offence instituted more running plays in the second half the game really opened. In 73+ offensive plays, the Bills rushed with a running back only 7 times and none of which took place in the 1st half. Singletary ended the game with 4 runs for 52 yards, averaging 13 yards a carry (& 89 all-purpose yards).
Provided by CBSSports.com
Maybe the stats are skewed as the Bills were trailing and the Bucs were preserving against big passing plays but Singletary proved his role running and should be utilized more going forward. Carolina’s weakness on defence is against the rush (20th ranked) and the Bills should utilize this opportunity for running the ball more often than they’ve been doing. A rushing threat seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle for the Bills to take that next step on offence and having Singletary find his groove heading (hopefully) into the playoffs is critical for how deep of a run this Bills team can have.
As of Friday, the Bills injury report is the following: Emmanuel Sanders did not practice (doubtful), Star Lotuleilei, AJ Epenesa, & Taiwan Jones had lights practices (questionable).
Provided by Statmuse.com
Sunday afternoon will be overcast, with a possibility of snow showers and temperature being in the mid 20’s.
I expect the Bills wanting to prove not only to themselves, but the rest of the NFL they are a group to be feared and avoided in the playoffs and this is the statement game to break the losing streak. I won’t be surprised to see the Bills pull off a double-digit win at home, giving the lacking faith in Western New York some excitement for where the team is headed during the final stretch of the season.
Circle the Wagons,
References: https://www.espn.com/nfl/boxscore/_/gameId/401326534, https://www.buffalobills.com/team/injury-report/ https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-2021-standings-playoff-picture-in-week-14-49ers-rise-in-nfc-wild-card-colts-emerge-in-afc-while-idle/, https://www.footballdb.com/games/preview.html?gid=2021121902, https://www.stadiumforecast.com/football/nfl/bills/weather.php/forecast.html