Looking to put their heartbreaking last-second loss in Arizona behind them and regroup after their bye week, the Buffalo Bills play host to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 12. Winners of three in a row heading into Week 10, the Bills looked well on their way to heading to 8-2 after a late go-ahead touchdown drive by Josh Allen. However, it would prove not to be as a miraculous reception by DeAndre Hopkins as time expired would spoil Buffalo’s bid. A much better team than their 3-7 record indicates, the Chargers have struggled all season long to close out games, leading to all seven of their losses to be decided by one score or less. The first matchup between these two teams since 2017; here’s what to look for in this one.
Los Angeles Chargers
Led by the rookie of the year favorite Justin Herbert, the Chargers have quickly become one of the most exciting young offenses in the league. Fresh off a 34-28 victory over the New York Jets last Sunday, the team has fought to the end against the NFL’s elite but has struggled to close out games. With another opportunity, Sunday against a Bills defense that has allowed over 30 points in their previous two games, look for this one to come down to the wire. The beneficiary of an outstanding pass-catching core with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and tight end Hunter Henry, one of the keys to Shane Steichen’s offense through eleven games has been the downfield passing attack.
Throwing for over 692 yards and ten touchdowns on passes that travel more than 20 yards down the field, Herbert will face one of his toughest challenges yet against an outstanding Buffalo secondary.
Back healthy after cornerback Josh Norman tested positive for Covid-19, the Bills are led by all-pro cornerback Tre’Davious White and emerging defensive back Levi Wallace. Allowing just over 238 yards per game through the air this season, one matchup to watch in this one will be how Buffalo’s run defense holds up against the Chargers’ ground attack. Rushing for over 115 yards per game this season, the team has seen contributions from Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Justin Jackson, and Kalen Ballage. With Ekeler expected to return after a nagging hamstring injury forced him to miss the last six games, the 25-year-old back provides Herbert with a matchup nightmare for Leslie Frazier’s defense as a rusher and a pass-catching option out of the backfield.
Sitting at 7-3 and firmly in the thick of the AFC playoff race, the Bills were hit with bad news on the injury front this week as it was revealed that starting left tackle Cody Ford would be lost for the season. Although against one of the best pass rushes in the game, the Chargers were also hit hard on the injury front on Friday as linebackers Melvin Ingram, Uchenna Nwosu, and cornerback Casey Hayward were all ruled out. With the Bills averaging over 27 points per game through 11 weeks, expect Brian Daboll’s offense to be in for another big performance on Sunday against an undermanned Los Angeles defense.
A once-potent rushing attack, the Bills ground game has limped along to a 27th rank in the league at just under 98 yards per game on average. Led by second-year running back Devin Singletary and rookie Zack Moss, the team has struggled to get consistent production from either, shifting their ground-heavy attack from previous seasons to a pass-happy scheme in 2020. On pace for 592 pass attempts versus 395 rush attempts, Sunday provides an opportunity to get the team’s rushing attack back on track. One matchup to watch in this one for the Bills will be how they line up against star pass rusher Joey Bosa.
On pace for another solid season, Bosa has recorded 20 tackles, and 4.5 sacks in eight games started for the team. One of the best in the league at getting to opposing quarterbacks, if Buffalo’s offensive line is unable to hold up in pass protection, Bosa could spell trouble for them on Sunday.
Date: Sunday, November 29, 2020
Start Time: 1 p.m. EST
Location: Orchard Park, NY
Stadium: Bills Stadium
TV Info: CBS
Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Points Spread: BUF -4.5 (-110) | LAC +4.5 (-110)
Moneyline: BUF -225 | LAC +180
Over/Under: O 53 (-110) | U 53 (-110)
Looking right away at the 4.5 point spread, take the Bills to cover. Scoring at will this season, Brian Daboll’s group is averaging nearly 400 yards of offense per game. Along with this, the Chargers head into this one shorthanded on the defensive side of the ball with three key pieces already ruled out. Prepare for a shootout in this one with Herbert and the Los Angeles offense providing enough juice to push the number over 53.
Needing a win to stay ahead of the surging Miami Dolphins as they aim to capture their first AFC East divisional crown since 1995, look for Sean McDermott‘s team to be all business after a disappointing loss in Arizona. One of the most talented rosters in the league, the Chargers have the pieces to keep this one close throughout the game. However, with the weapons available at Allen’s disposal and an apparent inability by Los Angeles to close out games late, roll with the Bills in this one.
Final Score: Los Angeles Chargers 20 Buffalo Bills 33
Follow Chris Gallagher on Twitter @ChrisGally06
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images