Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#265 Buffalo Bills vs.
#266 Detroit Lions
Friday, August 23, 2019 at 8:00pm EDT
Ford Field, Detroit
Written by Chris Kubala

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In what seems like an annual event, a pair of teams from the Rust Belt lock up in preseason NFL action from the Motor City. The Buffalo Bills are on the road as they take on the Detroit Lions Friday night in the last major tune-up for both teams. Buffalo rolled to an easy 27-14 win on the road over Carolina last Friday night in their week 2 matchup. Detroit was dropped 30-23 on the road by Houston in their week 2 contest Saturday night. The Bills own a 6-4-1 edge in the all-time regular season series between the teams, including a 14-13 home win in the last matchup on December 16, 2018.

Buffalo Bills Impressive in Preseason Action

Buffalo held the Colts in check in the opening game of the preseason and they were effective in their second game against the Panthers as their defense did the job. The Bills seemed to click on both sides of the ball in the early going as they jumped to a 17-0 lead and didn’t look back en route to the victory. Buffalo held a commanding 373-258 advantage in total offense, picked up 20 first downs to Carolina’s 18 and won the time of possession battle 31:40 to 28:20 in the contest. The Bills’ early success on both sides of the ball helped overcome losing the turnover battle 2-1: they did convert their takeaway into seven points as Kevin Johnson had a pick-six in the second quarter. Josh Allen, surrounded by new talent, hit nine of 11 throws for 102 yards in the win.

Allen has completed 15 of 22 passes for 168 yards in the preseason as he’s working on his accuracy and decision making as opposed to running the ball. Matt Barkley is entrenched as the #2 quarterback: he’s 17 of 24 for 236 yards and two scores. Tyree Jackson, from the University of Buffalo, has struggled and is a project-type guy: he’s six of 20 for 113 yards and an interception while adding 32 yards on the ground. There is plenty of competition for spots on the running back depth chart behind LeSean McCoy (four carries, six yards, TD) and Frank Gore (two carries, seven yards): third-round pick Devin Singletary (11 carries, 33 yards, six catches, 46 yards) has impressed as has Christian Wade (three carries, 69 yards, TD, one reception, 48 yards) in their action. That could make life tough for T.J. Yeldon (nine carries, 34 yards two receptions, 20 yards), Senorise Perry (five carries, 13 yards) and Marcus Murphy (12 carries, 54 yards) to earn a spot. Cole Beasley (six receptions, 57 yards) has looked sharp while Duke Williams (three catches, 39 yards, TD) and Isaiah McKenzie (three grabs, 99 yards) are impressing as they battle for a spot. The kicking game will be interesting as Stephen Hauschka (five of five extra points, one of three field goals, long of 30) has struggled, giving Chase McLaughlin (one of one extra points, two of two field goals, long of 38) a chance to impress.

If your team scores the first Touchdown of the game, YOU WIN! Pre-Game, Moneyline Bets Only. 1st $50 Staked. (New Jersey residents only).

Detroit Lions Looking for First Win of Preseason

Detroit played better in preseason game number two than they did in the opener, when they were pasted 31-3 by the Patriots, but still came up short. The Lions still struggled defensively and that proved to be their undoing as they’ve allowed 61 points in their first two games this season. Detroit trailed 10-0 after the opening quarter, battled back to tie the game at 10 and then gave up the next 10 points: they never got even again. The Lions were edged 410-388 in the total yardage battle, gave up 22 first downs while picking up 18 and were dominated in time of possession 34:54 to 25:06 in the contest. Both teams turned the ball over twice with the Lions scoring on a scoop-six in the second quarter. David Fales led the way for Detroit as he hit 12 of 19 passes for 226 yards and a score in the battle for the #2 QB job.

The Lions held Matthew Stafford out in the loss to the Texans as coach Matt Patricia felt he got work in during the joint practices: you have to think he’ll see work here. After Tom Savage went down in the preseason opener, that opened up the #2 job between Fales (17 of 33, 288 yards, TD, INT) and Josh Johnson (nine of 18, 85 yards, INT) at this point. The trio of Mark Thompson (nine carries, 46 yards, TD), Ty Johnson (seven carries, 33 yards) and Zach Zenner (six carries, 30 yards) are battling for spots behind Kerryon Johnson and C.J. Anderson. No one has jumped out in the passing game as Brandon Powell has a team-leading five receptions for 80 yards in the preseason. There is still plenty of work to be done in order to secure spots behind Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola and Kenny Golladay for Powell and company. Rookie first-round pick T.J. Hockenson (one catch, 22 yards) has to step up if he wants to take the majority of the reps from Jesse James.

The key for many of these bubble wide receivers is their ability to play special teams.

“That’s also the dual-role players that you have to have on your roster, that can go in and perform on offense and also special teams-wise,” Patricia said. “I think that group of guys that has been competing understands that. It’s been interesting to see those guys and evaluate them in both areas.”

Matt Prater (one of one extra points, one of one field goal attempts with a long of 49) has the upper hand in the kicking game over Ryan Santos (one of one extra points, one of one field goals, long of 37) at this point in time.

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Buffalo has been sharp in their first two games of the preseason. Clearly, all the moves to bolster the offensive line and the receiving corps has added depth and talent to that side of the ball. Buffalo’s defense was terrific last season and kept the Bills in games despite the offensive struggles. We’ve seen the Bills look good in the first two games as they stifled the Colts and the Panthers. Detroit has struggled on the defensive side of the ball and they’ve yet to really get their starters any sort of reps as of yet. This is a nationally televised game and will be a chance for the Bills to deliver another message. The headline on the halftime write-up for the Panthers stated that “Everything is bad”: that likely is the case for the Lions here. Buffalo gets the upper hand here.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills

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The Bills defense has been terrific in the first two preseason games. Buffalo shut down Indianapolis in the first half and followed that up by stifling Carolina. With the improvement on the offensive side of the ball, we have seen the Bills have put up 51 points in the first two games. That’s an average of 25.5 points a game, which is nearly nine points a game higher than last season’s 16.8 point per game average. Detroit has been rough defensively, which is something that has to be addressed. Can the Lions find a way to shut things down and keep the Buffalo offense in check?

The under is 6-1 in the Bills’ last seven games on the road and 4-1 in their last five games on fieldturf. Detroit has seen the under go 5-0 in their last five at home, 7-0 in their last seven overall and 6-0 in their last six on fieldturf. The teams have stayed under the total in each of their last six meetings: with Buffalo’s stout defense and the Lions struggling on both sides, this one ends up under the number.

Prediction: Under

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Buffalo has been terrific in the first two weeks of the preseason. The Bills were up 14-3 on Indianapolis in their preseason opener and rolled up a 24-6 advantage over the Panthers on the road in week 2. While one could point to the fact that Andrew Luck and Cam Newton didn’t see the field against them, the fact remains you play against the guys on the field. Detroit only saw Deshaun Watson for one series and didn’t see Tom Brady in the opener, yet gave up a total of 61 points in two games. Buffalo has the upper hand at the half here.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills

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Buffalo has held the opposition to three field goals in the first half in their two preseason games. The Bills are generating takeaways and most of the points against them have come against guys deep on the depth chart who will be bagging groceries when the preseason is over. Twenty-one of the 30 points Buffalo has given up in the preseason have come in the fourth quarter. Detroit trailed 20-0 to New England and 17-10 to Houston at the half in their two preseason games. Look for this one to fall short of the number as the Lions don’t do much offensively.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.