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Eye on the Bills: Dual-threat QB Josh Allen

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants will attempt to celebrate their first victory of the season Sunday when they host the Buffalo Bills in their home opener. The Bills played in MetLife Stadium before the Giants; on Kickoff Weekend, they rallied from a 16-point deficit to defeat the Jets, 17-16. The Giants dropped a 35-17 decision to the Cowboys in Dallas.

Victories in their last three games vs. Buffalo – in 2007, 2011 and 2015 – enabled the Giants to tie the regular season series at 6-6. They also won the most significant game between the teams, 20-19, in Super Bowl XXV.

What is the Bills’ biggest strength?

Defense, defense, defense. The unit is so good it’s worth repeating. Ten starters and 11 key contributors return to bolster a defense that in 2018 ranked second in the NFL overall (294.1 yards a game) and first against the pass (179.2 yards). The defense allowed just eight points in the victory against the Jets; a pick-six and a safety accounted for the Jets’ other points. Buffalo has top-flight playmakers at all levels of a very sound and solid defense.

Which player is key to the Bills’ offense?

Second-year quarterback Josh Allen. The seventh overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft has arguably the NFL’s strongest throwing arm. Last week, he had career-high totals of 24 completions and 254 yards to help the Bills overcome their largest deficit since 2011. He is also an outstanding runner who led the league’s quarterbacks with eight rushing touchdowns in 2018. In the last six games of the season, he threw for 1,242 yards and eight touchdowns, and averaged 79.3 yards per game on the ground and scored six times. He is the only player in NFL history to throw for 200+ yards and run for 100+ yards in consecutive games. The Giants’ defenders will have their hands full with Allen.

What is the strength of the Bills’ offense?

Allen’s talent notwithstanding, that will be determined, because the Bills spent their offseason reconstructing their offense, where 18 of the 26 players on the current roster are new. Twelve of the 26 are rookies to third-year players. Every running back and tight end except for fullback Patrick DeMarco, plus wideouts Cole Beasley and John Brown, are first-year Bills. Although 15-year veteran Frank Gore is listed as the starting running back on the depth chart, rookie third-round draft choice Devin Singletary ran for 70 yards on just four carries against the Jets. He also caught five passes. Buffalo has four new starting offensive linemen. The offense is establishing an identity. In the opener, Allen dropped back to pass on each of the first 20 plays. In the second half, Allen threw nine fewer passes and the team rushed for 90 more yards than it did in the first two quarters

Which player is key to the Bills’ defense?

It’s difficult to choose only one, but we’ll select right defensive end Jerry Hughes, who has 48.5 career sacks (43.5 with Buffalo), including a team-high 1.5 last week. Last year, he led the team with 7.0 sacks and 18 quarterback pressures. Hughes has played in 116 consecutive games and he is a crafty pass rusher with a variety of moves.

Get to know the Giants' opponent for Week 2

What is the strength of the Bills’ defense?

A secondary that might be the league’s most talented. Jets quarterback Sam Darnold finished with 175 passing yards on 41 attempts in the opener, a puny 4.3-yard average. Tre’Davious White, a first-round draft choice in 2017, is a true No. 1 cornerback. He had six interceptions, 26 passes defensed and two fumble recoveries in his first two seasons. Free safety Micah Hyde was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2017, his first season in Buffalo. Next to him is Jordan Poyer, who is the only NFL player with at least 200 tackles and nine interceptions since the start of the 2017 season. Poyer led the Bills with nine tackles, including a sack, last week. Levi Wallace and nickel back Taron Johnson round out the top five.

What is the strength of the Bills’ special teams?

In Buffalo’s perfect world, it is Andre Roberts, who is playing for his fifth team in five seasons. Last year with the Jets led the NFL with 1,174 kickoff return yards and averaged 29.4 yards per runback. That earned him a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl team and All-Pro honors. But Roberts missed the opener and has not practiced this week because of a quad injury. Without Roberts, the special teams standout is kicker Stephen Hauschka, who has made 17 consecutive field goal attempts and 86.5% of his tries in a 12-year career.

Based on the scouting report, what must the Giants do to win the game?

Because Buffalo’s defense is so good, it is critical for the Giants to capitalize on their scoring opportunities. Just look at what happened last week. The Bills turned the ball over four times (two fumbles and two interceptions) in the first half! But the Jets scored zero points off those takeaways, enabling Buffalo to stay close and win the game in the second half. If the Bills are similarly careless with the ball this week, the Giants must take advantage and put points on the board.

Statistics you should know:

*The Giants-Bills regular-season series is tied, 6-6. But Buffalo has outscored the Giants by a whopping 220-219. Because the Giants won Super Bowl XXV by a single point, the 13-game total is 239-239.

*The Bills are playing the Giants in MetLife Stadium one week after defeating the Jets there. It’s the first time a road team has played in the same stadium on consecutive weeks since Baltimore did it Oct. 16-23, 2016, also at MetLife Stadium. Later this season, the Miami Dolphins will also play consecutive games in MetLife (Dec. 8-15).

*Buffalo has held nine consecutive opponents to less than 210 passing yards, their longest streak since 2004 and the NFL’s longest since Seattle’s streak of 13 games in a row form 2013-14.

*Gore is fourth in NFL history with 14,768 rushing yards. In six games against the Giants, he has rushed for 263 yards on 65 carries (4.0-yard avg.). Gore has rushed for 80 touchdowns – but none vs. the Giants.

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