It’s Wednesday so the Buffalo Bills are now turning their attention to their next opponent. After a primetime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bills will head back out west one more time to face the Denver Broncos (5-8) at Mile High, again on primetime, of sorts. The game was flexed to a Saturday kickoff.
With that, here are eight storylines to follow this week as the Bills (10-3) are set to face the Broncos in Week 15:
Clinching the playoffs
Bills head coach Sean McDermott. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
It's the time of the year where all we're going to hear about is the playoffs. At 5-8, the Broncos are all but eliminated, so the focus all week will have to do with the Bills. Buffalo has a few playoff scenarios to watch, but the obvious: Win. If the Bills win... they're in, and lock up the AFC East title.
Stopping the AFC East run
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
The Broncos have five wins. Who have three of them come against? The AFC East. Denver has swept the division thus far in 2020 and will be looking to complete it against the Bills. Having said that, the Bills are 2-1 against the AFC West thus far, only losing to the Chiefs, and will look to round things out at 3-1. In addition, Buffalo has two more road games left (at Patriots, Week 16), and if they win them both, they'll be 6-2 on the road for the second-straight season.
Turnovers should continue
Taron Johnson #24 of the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
You know in recent weeks the Bills defense has turned things around in 2020 thanks to the turnovers. Buffalo has 11 turnovers in their past five games and a big storyline could be... doubling? Tripling that against the Broncos? In all seriousness, the takeaways should come in Denver. The Broncos lead the NFL with 29 giveaways, four more than the next closest team (49ers), and their turnover differential of minus-18 is eight worse than the next closest team (Eagles). That is bad.
No. 2 cornerback rotation
Levi Wallace #39. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
While the Bills did leave Arizona with a win over the 49ers, their No. 2 cornerback spot was still beaten up. Levi Wallace had a bad game that week and in reaction to it, the Bills put Wallace in a rotation at that spot in Week 14 against the Steelers with Josh Norman. That split in terms of snap counts was 56/44 in favor of Norman. Both Wallace and Norman played well against the Steelers, so we'll see if the Bills go back to having one full-time starter against the Broncos or if the rotation continues. Wallace was beat for the touchdown on Sunday, but had the game-sealing interception as well.
Drew Lock momentum builder?
Broncos quarterback Drew Lock. Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
In their 32-27 win over the Panthers, quarterback Drew Lock... was good? Yup, he had his best game as a pro last week. The young QB has struggled at times in Year 2, but has he turned a corner? Lock’s passing yards (280) weren’t the most he’s ever had, but Sunday marked Lock’s first time as a pro that he played a complete game. In the past, Lock had only shown stretches of strong play. Per our friends at Broncos Wire, Lock "frequently connected on check-down passes to running backs and receivers, finishing the day 21-of-27 passing with four touchdowns and, perhaps most notable, no interceptions." Sounds like he took what the defense gave him... so what will the Bills defense give Lock?
Missing out on Josh Allen
Bills quarterback Josh Allen. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)
The Bills are loving Josh Allen in 2020. The quarterback has broken out, and as mentioned, Lock is a bit inconsistent. This is a storyline mostly for Denver, but Bills fans should know that it is something they do talk about in the Midwest. Did the Broncos and general manager John Elway mess up in 2018? They passed on Allen at that year's draft, and took Bradley Chubb at No. 5 overall instead. Chubb's good, but we all know the importance of a QB. In addition, the Bills and Broncos reportedly had a trade in place for Buffalo to trade to No. 5 to take Allen. Obviously they still got him, though.
Slew of secondary issues for Broncos
Broncos cornerback Duke Dawson Jr. Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of Allen. Good game ahead? Could be considering the injuries the Broncos have in their secondary... specifically at cornerback. They barely have guys that can suit up there. Here's the list via Broncos Wire:
Duke Dawson (torn ACL)
Kevin Toliver (torn ACL)
Essang Bassey (torn ACL)
Bryce Callahan (foot, on IR)
AJ Bouye (suspended)
Safeties Kareen Jackson and Justin Simmons are good players, but they can't do it all on their own. In an effort to kind of help, the Broncos signed cornerback Parnell Motley off the 49ers practice squad. Look for Bills wideout Stefon Diggs to have a big game even if he's... quadruple covered with this rash of injuries.
Does John Brown return?
Bills wide receiver John Brown. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The Bills designated receiver John Brown to return on Tuesday. Will he? We should find out on Friday if he's back from his ankle injury. The designation means the Bills now have 21 days to bring Brown off of injured reserve, so it's no lock that he plays vs. the Broncos. Stay tuned. The Bills offense hasn't struggled without Brown, but boy what a pre-playoff boost he'd be. Also... Brown did score for the Bills vs. the Broncos last season in their 20-3 win at home vs. Denver as well... for what it's worth.