Buffalo Bills (6-4, 5-4-1 ATS) at New Orleans Saints (5-5, 4-6), 8:20 p.m., Thanksgiving Day
Brolley’s Bills Stats and Trends
The Bills have lost three of their last five games outright and they’re 1-3-1 ATS in that span after their humiliating 41-15 loss to the Colts as seven-point home favorites.
The Bills are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss.
Josh Allen has averaged fewer than 6.0 YPA in three of his last four games, and he has two of his three lowest fantasy outputs in the last three weeks against the Jags (12.6 FP) and Colts (18.2). He’s still thrown for 2+ TDs in eight of his last nine games, but he’s run for just 21 yards over the last two games with his O-line struggling with RT Spencer Brown (COVID) and LG Jon Feliciano (calf, IR) out of the lineup. The Saints gave up three rushing TDs to Jalen Hurts last week, and they’ve allowed five rushing TDs to QBs in the last three weeks. New Orleans has allowed 28+ FP to QBs in three of the last four weeks (Hurts, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady).
Stefon Diggs is running pure with 14+ FP in five straight games despite posting a season-low 23 receiving yards last week. He turned his targets into two touchdowns, which gives him five scores in his last five games. DeVonta Smith posted 4/61 receiving on six targets in this matchup last week, and they’re giving up the 10th-most FPG (37.3) to the position.
Emmanuel Sanders has flatlined with the rest of the offense over the last four weeks, posting just 9/118 receiving on 19 targets in that span after opening the year with 24/413/4 receiving on 39 targets in his first six games with Buffalo. The Saints are giving up the fifth-most receiving yards per game (181.0) and a healthy 14.1 YPR to WRs this season.
Cole Beasley is gutting it out through a rib injury, playing just 41 snaps over the last two weeks. He managed just 6/38 receiving on seven targets in that span after posting 7+ catches in three straight games in Weeks 6-9. Russell Gage managed 7/64 receiving in this matchup back in Week 9.
Dawson Knox hasn’t scored in his last three games, but he posted season-highs in catches (6) and targets (10) against the Colts on his way to 80 receiving yards. Dallas Goedert finished with 5/62 receiving in this matchup last week, and the Saints have allowed just one TDD to the position this season.
Zack Moss managed just 3/5 scrimmage against the Colts while losing snaps to Devin Singletary and Matt Breida. Moss saw just a 29% snap share and he’s now posted just 29/81/1 rushing (2.8 YPC) over his last five games behind a struggling Bills’ O-line. Breida finished with a 32% snap share and he’s looked the best out of these RBs over the last two weeks with 12/117/2 scrimmage but a chunk of his production has come in garbage-time opportunities. Singletary saw a 38% share with a respectable 6/43 scrimmage against the Colts. This backfield is devolving into an ugly three-man backfield, and the Saints are giving up the second-fewest rushing yards per game (65.5) and just 3.2 YPC to RBs.
Brolley’s Saints Stats and Trends
New Orleans has covered in six straight games following an ATS loss.
The Saints have played over the total in four straight games.
New Orleans is 8-0-1 toward unders in its last nine Thursday contests.
The Saints have dropped three consecutive games since Trevor Siemian took over as the team’s starter. He averaged just 5.4 YPA with two INTs against the Eagles, one of which Darius Slay took to the house for a pick-six. He’s still been fairly successful for fantasy with 16+ FP in each of his three starts thanks to major garbage-time production, including 26.2 FP performance in a two-score loss to the Eagles in Week 11. The Bills haven’t allowed a quarterback to reach 17+ FP since Patrick Mahomes did it in Week 5.
Tre’Quan Smith has posted 11+ FP in three of his last four games after finishing with 5/64 receiving on eight targets (20% share) and a team-best 40 routes in Week 11. Marquez Callaway scored his sixth touchdown of the season against Philadelphia while running the second-most WR routes (31). Deonte Harris finished a distant third with 22 routes, and he finished with just 2/11 receiving on five targets, which was the first time he’s finished with fewer than eight FP since Week 3. The Bills are giving up the fewest FPG (25.5) to WRs this season.
Adam Trautman is out 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain, which is unfortunate since he was coming into his own in his second season. Nick Vannett will be elevated into his spot as an inline blocker, but Juwan Johnson could have a slightly bigger role in the passing game since Trautman was averaging 6.8 targets per game over the last four weeks. Johnson caught three TD passes in the first four weeks, but he has just 3/44 receiving on six targets since Week 5.
Alvin Kamara could be staring at a third straight missed game with his knee injury. Mark Ingram would continue to fill in for him if he’s unable to play, but he also popped up on the injury report — Tony Jones is the next option then. Ingram has scored 16+ FP in his first two games without Kamara. He’s totaled 30/135/1 rushing and 10/86 receiving on 15 targets with snap shares of 85% and 72% against the Titans and Eagles. The Bills had no answer for Jonathan Taylor last week, who went 32/185/4 rushing and 3/19/1 receiving in the victory.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 26.6 (4th)
Plays per game: 65.7 (19th)
Pass: 63.9% (11th) | Run: 36.1% (22nd)
Pace: 27.6 (15th)
Plays per game: 67.3 (14th)
Pass: 58.2% (23rd) | Run: 41.8% (10th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
This is a tricky game because the Bills carry such enormous scoring upside every week – but have turned in terrible performances in two of their last 3 games. One thing is for sure, though: Josh Allen is going to air it out here. The Bills are throwing at the highest rate in neutral situations (game within a score in 1st-3rd quarter) above expected (+10%) over the last eight weeks and are up against a Saints front-seven that has shut down every single opponent's rushing attack… except for the Eagles’ last week.
On the other hand, New Orleans has started playing considerably faster on offense and it’s led to way more play volume. In Weeks 1-8, the Saints ranked 22nd in pace (29.2 seconds in between plays) and were down at 30th in plays per game (61.7). With the Saints emphasis on playing a bit faster, it definitely gives this matchup more upside – I’m just concerned that Buffalo’s defense will wreck New Orleans offensively with both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram banged up.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
After being planted on the right side of the field on nearly 90% of snaps the previous two weeks, Marshon Lattimore split his time evenly between both sidelines in Week 11. Adding further uncertainty to the mix, Paulson Adebo and Bradley Roby followed Lattimore’s example. Why? Lattimore spent the majority of the game shadowing DeVonta Smith. And he did a solid job limiting the rookie to 3/53/0 of his 4/61/0 line. However, Stefon Diggs is not a rookie. As a whole, the Saints are providing opposing WR units with the ninth-most FPG (37.3). It’s a ninth-most ranking that’s remained consistent over the last four weeks with 35.6 FPG.
As much as I love what Taysom Hill is able to do, I simply cannot argue with the play/numbers from Trevor Siemian. He’s not collecting victories, but he’s thrown eight TDs to only two INTs, averaging the ninth-most air yards/game (307.1), and has the fifth-best passer rating under pressure (89.3). All of that in mind, don’t believe for a second that I’ll have a single stock in Siemian against this secondary of Buffalo. And whatever vulnerabilities that exist in his game will be placed front-and-center given Alvin Kamara isn’t ready in time for T-Day.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Look, when a team gets embarrassed at home by a supposedly inferior opponent the way the Bills did last week against the Colts, there’s always going to be someone asking what’s wrong with the team.
I thought this piece by The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia — the best national football writer going, for my money — was pretty enlightening.
The Buffalo Bills are 6-4 and coming off of a blowout loss against the Colts.— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) November 23, 2021
Panic time? Nope.
Why I still believe in them as legit Super Bowl contenders:https://t.co/vOBFZEacj0
So what’s the takeaway? Well, the Bills’ offense is less efficient than last year, but not nearly to the extent it seems. Josh Allen is throwing a few more interceptions/is a little less accurate, the run game still isn’t very good, and the Bills are committing too many penalties. Offensive line injuries in recent weeks probably are taking a little toll, but overall, the line hasn’t been much of an issue from a big picture perspective. I think that is arguable, of course.
2021 Buffalo Bills with and without Spencer Brown in the starting lineup at right tackle:— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) November 22, 2021
4 games WITH:
Rush Yds/Game: 135
6 games WITHOUT:
Rush Yds/Game: 108#BillsMafia
RT Spencer Brown, a standout rookie, is on the COVID-19 list and doesn’t look like he’s going to go, and LG Jon Feliciano (calf) likely is another week away from returning from IR.
The Bills are the pass-heaviest team in the NFL, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon, but they clearly have felt they need more from their backfield, which is why they’ve been working in Matt Breida more. Unfortunately, a three-man RB rotation in the past-heaviest offensive in the league isn’t exactly conducive to high-quality fantasy production. Breida, to me, has been the best of this bunch.
Stefon Diggs says RB Matt Breida has added some “spice” to the Bills offense.— Alaina Getzenberg (@agetzenberg) November 23, 2021
As Graham put it in Stat-Pack:
Matt Breida’s usage from last week wasn’t a fluke. Buffalo went with a gross 3-man rotation in Week 11 as Singletary led the way in snaps (38%) followed by Breida (32%) and Moss (29%).
RB routes run were: Singletary (16), Moss (11), Breida (11). Disgusting.
In all, I think this is a huge bounceback spot for Allen, with the Saints down key pass rushers Tanoh Kpassagnon and Marcus Davenport, and I expect Stefon Diggs to put up numbers as well. The loss of the pass rushers should help offset the Bills’ OL woes.
The Saints are in a world of hurt, and it’s led some to question whether or not a switch to Taysom Hill will be coming shortly, though it looks like Trevor Siemian will get the reins against Buffalo on a short week.
Buffalo’s problem last week was its run defense and turnovers — don’t mistake the Colts piling points on Buffalo as evidence this is a spot for Siemian to put up numbers. In fact, in the Bills’ four losses this year, opposing QBs have combined to throw for 2 touchdowns. That’s combined, not an average.
So the Saints are going to have to run the ball, and that will likely be with Mark Ingram — if he can play. Ingram has been the overall RB8 in the two weeks since he’s played without Alvin Kamara (MCL), and it Kamara isn’t going to be able to return until Week 13 at the earliest. Ingram is on the RB1 radar — presuming Ingram, who is dealing with a knee injury of his own, can play. If not, Tony Jones would get the work. Yikes.
From @GMFB: The #Saints are banged up at RB, with Alvin Kamara’s knee sprain and Mark Ingram’s recent knee situation (day-to-day) threatening to limit them on Thursday vs. the #Bills. pic.twitter.com/WVa0FFiKgn— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 24, 2021
Making things tougher for Siemian is that his favorite target from the last few weeks, TE Adam Trautman, is now on IR with an MCL injury. How the Saints replace him is anyone’s guess, but Juwan Johnson is a talented receiver who has been a healthy scratch for a bit since he struggles as a blocker. Nick Vannett is likely to have a bigger role as a blocker, especially if the Saints’ banged-up offensive line can’t get healthy in time. But Siemian could potentially look to Johnson as a fill-in over the middle of the field.
The Saints have been giving WR Tre’Quan Smith the majority of their routes, which speaks more to the state of the Saints than Smith, but he’s doing enough to be a fringy WR3.
For New Orleans, they have to hope they get “bad Buffalo” and not “completely pissed off Buffalo” this week.