The Redskins and Bills clash on Sunday knowing that they both must win to stand any realistic shot of making the playoffs. Buffalo failed to overcome another NFC East opponent last week, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 23-20. With that loss, the Bills currently sit at 6-7 in third place in the AFC East, and two games behind the New York Jets in second. Realistically, the Bills need to win out and hope for miracles from above to make the playoffs, but while there’s a chance, don’t expect them to give up easily. Washington share a three-way lead at the top of the NFC East, sitting at 6-7 along with the Eagles and the New York Giants. They will hoping to win back-to-back games for the first time this season to keep them at the right end of the division, and take one step closer to winning it.
Three keys to the game:
1. The Buffalo defensive front
The Bills’ front seven has failed to live up to the offseason hype. The change from Greg Schwarz to a Rex Ryan defense has led to a void of sacks, with no player having more than 4, and has combined for just 19 on the year. In comparison, they have allowed 32 sacks. The Redskins offensive line has been much improved in 2015, allowing just 23 sacks. It promises to be another tough game in the trenches for the Bills’ defensive line, but if they can generate a pass rush, it may swing the game in their favour.
2. Kirk Cousins and Tyrod Taylor
Both quarterbacks came into the season with question marks, and both have exceeded expectations. Cousins is in line for a bumper pay day, as a pending free agent, it would be a surprise to see the Redskins let him walk into free agency in a year where he has cut down on his interceptions and mental errors. Meanwhile, Taylor has thrown just five interceptions all year, his first since Week 4 coming last week. He has proven to be a true dual threat quarterback, able to scramble outside the pocket, but also displaying awareness and arm-strength that is much akin to the man he backed up for four years in Baltimore, Joe Flacco. The quarterback that keeps their roll going longest will play a key part in deciding the outcome of this game.
3. Who wants it more
As aforementioned, both teams still have it all to play for. Though the Bills are in a far less secure position, they know that they simply have to win out in order to stand making the postseason. The Redskins have been consistent in their inconsistency all season long, much like the rest of the division. They could realistically lose two of their last three games and still win the NFC East. With it all on the line, which team can come through in the clutch?
Match-up to watch: Sammy Watkins vs Brashuad Breeland
Watkins has been one of the most dynamic receivers over the past few weeks, nabbing seven touchdowns grabs on the year so far, four coming in the past three games. He’ll be up against Breeland, a corner who has been a pleasant surprise for the Redskins after he was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. He has two interceptions on the year so far, and has logged the second most tackles on the Redskins for 2015. He will have his hands full with Watkins on Sunday, but this matchup will one to keep your eyes on throughout the game.
Prediction: Buffalo Bills
This game could go either way, but there are several factors for picking the Bills. Firstly, I fancy the Bills’ offense more than the Redskins defense, and I think the combination of Watkins and LeSean McCoy will provide a stern test of Washington’s resistance. Secondly, if anything has been proven this year, it’s that never expect a victory from a team in the NFC East. The Redskins have not won back-to-back all year, and having won last week against the Chicago Bears, it only points to one result on Sunday.