Right out of the gates, the Buffalo Bills are 1-0 and on top in the AFC East standings. After winning their home opener, they are taking a business trip down south to Charlotte to take on Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers, who are also 1-0. Only one team can come up with the ‘W’ to get to a 2-0 record.
Here are some things to watch for:
It’s no secret that LeSean McCoy is a top-notch, electrifying running back in the league. Even Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has high praise for his opponent by expressing how much he looked up to him during his college years. The Bills defense will need to focus on stopping McCaffrey’s dual-threat run game. Last week, against the 49ers, McCaffrey made his debut by rushing for 47 yards and had five receptions for 38 yards.
Chemistry is always key in order to get that touchdown. Both in their third season with the Bills, Charles Clay and Tyrod Taylor are working toward a goal of optimal connection especially while in the red-zone. Since Week 14, Clay is leading the league with 5 touchdown receptions in that time frame while currently sharing this record with Jordy Nelson. Maybe he’ll come out on top this Sunday.
The Bills cannot afford to neglect the passing game against the Panthers. I’m anticipating rookie receiver Zay Jones to have an imminent coming-out party soon and hopefully it’s during Week 2. Jones didn’t do much last week against the Jets, only catching 1 of 4 targets for 21 yards. He’ll need to get more targets this week in order to create a spark in the passing game.
With a win against his former team, Sean McDermott would be the first Bills head coach to start their career 2-0 in their first year with the team. McDermott spent six years as Carolina’s Defensive Coordinator. This is in his favor, as he basically built the Carolina defense which appeared in Super Bowl 50. Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera said he had “put his stamp” on that defense. McDermott will have great insight as to how to handle it especially in terms of preparation. He knows the Panthers playbook.
Much like how McDermott is familiar with his former team’s defense, he also knows the challenges he will face when his defensive front squares off against Cam Newton. He said during a press conference this past Wednesday, “His size, speed, power, and arm strength. That’s what we’re up against.” But there is one true weakness that Cam Newton has, and that’s getting sacked. This will definitely be accounted for in the Bills’ defensive strategy.
The Bills will have their chances to win this game, but face a stiff challenge from the Panthers. Turnovers and time of possession will be major factors in deciding this game.