8 storylines to watch for during Bills vs. Chargers

Nick Wojton
·5 min read

It’s Wednesday so the Buffalo Bills are now turning their attention to their next opponent. After a weekend off thanks to their bye, the Los Angeles Chargers (3-7) will head to Bills Stadium in Week 12.

Here are eight storylines to follow as the Bills are set to face the Bolts:

Undefeated out of bye

Bills head coach Sean McDermott. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Now that Sean McDermott has three seasons under his belt at head coach in Buffalo, we can notice one trend that will be put to the test this weekend. In the three times out of the bye week, McDermott is undefeated... 3-0, in total. His teams have beaten the Jaguars and Dolphins in those games. Maybe that's because McDermott is working under the Andy Reid model? McDermott comes from the Reid "coaching tree' and the longtime NFL head coach is a ridiculous 19-3 all-time after the bye in his career.

Healthy out of the bye?

Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano. Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest question coming out of the bye week each season is about player health. Are guys OK? On the Bills' final injury report prior to facing the Cardinals, it was a long one. Here's how it looked:

Out

  • RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring)

Questionable

  • OL Cody Ford (ankle)

  • S Micah Hyde (ankle)

Will play

  • QB Josh Allen (shoulder)

  • OL Mitch Morse (concussion)

  • RB TJ Yeldon (back)

  • CB Tre’Davious White (ankle)

  • OL Brian Winters (knee)

  • OL Jon Feliciano (back)

  • CB Josh Norman (hamstring)

Now, not all of these guys were sidelined against the Cardinals, but the point is a lot of guys were dinged up. Currently on injured reserve as well are LB Matt Milano (pectoral), CB Cam Lewis (wrist), LB Tyrel Dodson (knee), and WR Isaiah Hodgins (shoulder). Hodgins was placed on the designated to return portion of the team's IR, but he can spend up to 21 days there. The others are eligible to be placed there, but haven't yet... except Milano. He is not eligible to yet and has to sit out at least one more game (3 game minimum).

Can Buffalo solve the rookie?

\Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers have an elite offense. They're the third-best in terms of yardage (400.9 average). A lot of that has to do with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. While he was selected No. 6 overall and was the third rookie QB selected at the recent draft, Herbert is playing the best between himself and fellow rookies Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Herbert is on pace to blow the rookie QB touchdown record out of the water. He has 22 and the current record is 27 (Baker Mayfield). What might slow that down? Turnovers. The Bills had a plentiful supply of those in the two games prior to their weekend off. Can the defense keep that up?

Anthony Lynn return

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Lynn will make his second appearance as an opposing head coach facing the Bills in Buffalo in Week 12 and third time overall. Lynn spent 2015 and 2016 in Buffalo under Rex Ryan and briefly replaced him. In those two prior games, the Chargers are 2-0. Lynn has been the head coach of the Chargers for the same amount of time as McDermott has led the Bills. In their head coaching careers, Lynn is 29-29 while McDermott is 32-26, though.

Does run game improve as promised?

Bills running back Zack Moss. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Buffalo's rushing attack hasn't been close to as good as the passing game this season. They're the sixth-worst ground attack in the league, averaging 97.6 yards per game. Not handing the ball off... ever, does that. But prior to the bye week, both McDermott and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll spoke on the importance of improving that over the final six games. Let's see if the Bills do. Worth noting, the Bills have had rookie Zack Moss take more snaps than Devin Singletary the past three-straight games.

Mitch Morse situation

Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Each week the Bills seemingly have to address a situation along their offensive line. Usually it has to do with health, and we'll see if someone like Ford gets back out there this week. But in terms of the biggest story on the O-line heading into Week 12, it's Mitch Morse. The center was a healthy scratch, essentially, prior to the bye. McDermott gave no clues as to whether or not he'll get back out there against the Chargers.

Levi Wallace vs. Josh Norman?

Bills cornerback Levi Wallace. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Under the surface, a lot, the Bills have a situation which we might get an answer to. It's one which we once thought we would know the answer of during Week 1. Instead, injury and COVID-19 decided otherwise. Who is the Bills' No. 2 cornerback next to Tre'Davious White? Well, we don't really know. Levi Wallace and Josh Norman have played a total of about six snaps in the same game this season. Norman only suited up Week 4-6, while Wallace has played in Weeks 1-4 and then 8 & 9. Between all the aliments this season, these two haven't been healthy at the same time at all. But both were recently removed from the Bills' COVID-19 designation, so they should be good to go this week vs. the Chargers.

Another shootout for Josh Allen?

Bills quarterback Josh Allen. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

This game was picked as a win for the Bills in our recent game-by-game predictions out of the bye week because quarterback Josh Allen has proven he can win shootouts this season. Herbert's been great this year, but Allen has essentially outdueled the Rams, Seahawks, and yes, the Cardinals, despite the final score. Can Allen do it again? That's what it might come down to... and as just stated, you know what we think in terms of him answering that.