Washington, however, does not seem to have the type of team where its weaknesses are a result of its strengths or vice versa. They are simply average, and right now are hurting significantly due to injuries. Considering Washington just lost two of their top offensive skill players this past Sunday, the offensive numbers may not accurately characterize their team anymore. The Redskins have also recently transitioned to quarterback John Beck, formerly of the second string.
Hopefully that paints a general portrait of Buffalo’s upcoming opponent. Let’s delve into the numbers that appear to be of significance, especially those that may not be very well known to Buffalo fans. Again, numbers in parentheses are where those numbers rank in the NFL.
21 – sacks by the Redskins through six games (1T). Washington has faced only 196 passing attempts (26T), which results in an astounding average of 0.107 sacks per passing attempt. Basically, that’s a sack for every 10 attempts. That’s better than the Giants, who have 21 sacks after facing 215 passes. This is indeed a concern going into the game, especially with Buffalo’s starting left tackle out for the game. Even so, the Bills have still only given up 7 sacks on the year, which is tied for best in the league and slightly more than one sack per game.
4.6 and 4.0 – yards per carry given up by Washington’s defense (22T), and YPC for Washington’s run game on offense (23T). Run the ball and stop the run – this is a mantra that applies even today, despite the high-flying air raid offenses of 2011. Washington is not good at doing either one, and this should be where Buffalo can really gain an edge, as the Bills are gaining 5.2 YPC on the ground on offense (3). Buffalo does give up 5.1 YPC on defense (29), but has shown the ability to stop the run in spurts.
54 – number of penalties on Washington’s defense (3). These 54 penalties have resulted in 445 penalty yards given up, which is 8.24 yards per penalty. I know a lot of Buffalo fans thought their team got lucky against the Raiders, since the Bills were the beneficiaries of some timely penalties. Well, don’t be surprised if something similar happens this coming Sunday, as the Redskins’ defense has been called for 8 more penalties on the year than the Raiders’ defense. As much as people believe this isn’t a big part of the game, it can become that way. If they are legitimate penalties, then it will only serve to help the Bills’ offense. Buffalo’s receivers seem capable of taking advantage of aggressiveness from DB’s. We’ll have to see how big of a role penalties play while Washington is on defense.
-6 – turnover margin for the Redskins (29). Shanahan’s team has not done a good job of taking care of the ball or getting turnovers. While Washington is second in the league in forced fumbles with 15, they’ve been unfortunate to only have recovered 3 of those. Their defense has 5 interceptions (22), while Redskins quarterbacks have thrown a total of 10 themselves (4). This is another area where Buffalo may be able to thrive, as the Bills have only lost the turnover battle once, have still not lost a single fumble (only 2 have even occurred, both recovered), and are very good at getting interceptions, second the league with 12 (Green Bay is first with 13 picks with one more game played).
13 – sacks allowed by Washington (11T). As bad as Buffalo has been in getting sacks (last in the league with four) this year, this is a poor matchup against a stingy Washington offensive line. Granted, the Redskins have a few guys banged up and possibly out for the game in Toronto, but they still have done well at protecting their quarterbacks.
Overall, Washington and Buffalo are an interesting matchup. The potency of Buffalo’s offense seems to give them the edge overall, but there are certainly areas on paper where the Redskins seem to have the advantage. As always, it comes down to who will be able to exploit their plus matchups.
In the end, I think Buffalo will run the ball quite a bit against Washington and employ a gameplan similar to their game against Philadelphia. That should set up the pass enough to move the chains and get similar offensive production to what they’ve been getting during the season. Washington, on the hand, should be able to move the ball against Buffalo’s anemic defense. However, I do expect the Bills’ defense to put up a fight against the run and do a good job against it for most of the game. There will probably be a few good Washington drives and a few three and outs, similar to how the Giants fared against Buffalo.
I would not be surprised if the flow of the game is similar to a few previous Buffalo games this season, with the Bills jumping out to an early lead and then struggling to maintain it. The Bills seem to have the better team overall, though, and should pull out the victory.
Prediction: Bills 27, Washington 20.