The Buffalo Bills missed a golden opportunity Sunday.
Make that several of them.
The defense and special teams tried and tried again to keep the Bills in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but an inept offense couldn’t cash in. The result was a disappointing 20-16 loss that dropped the Bills to 3-2. That’s still good for a share of the AFC East lead, but 4-1, with a 3-0 mark in the conference, would have been so much better heading into the bye week.
Here’s a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling after Week Five:
• S Jordan Poyer: With an interception and a fumble recovery, Poyer continued what has been an excellent start to 2017. He also had a “stop” in run defense, defined by the analytics website Pro Football Focus as being a play that
• DE Jerry Hughes: He didn’t get a sack, but Hughes applied continuous pressure off the edge. According to PFF, Hughes had six total pressures on 30 pass-rush snaps, four hurries and two quarterback hits. His run defense was also given an excellent review by the website.
• WR Brandon Tate: The veteran receiver/kick returner was the only player to provide a spark when the ball was in his hands. His 12-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was his first with the Bills, while his 40-yard punt return in the fourth quarter should have set the team up with a touchdown.
• WR Andre Holmes: The veteran receiver was targeted once, but the pass fell incomplete. Holmes played fewer snaps than both Tate and Kaelin Clay. It’s worth repeating – if the Bills were to cut Holmes before Week 10, that could factor into the formula for compensatory draft picks. The team could land a third-round draft pick if they made enough cuts. With that in mind, Holmes’ roster spot should be in jeopardy. Couldn’t the team get the same or better production from practice-squad receiver Brandon Reilly?
• LT Dion Dawkins: The rookie was charged with two sacks and another quarterback hit, according to PFF. He looked slow off the snap in pass blocking, and PFF also graded his run blocking poorly. After playing a good game in Week Four, Dawkins took a clear step back in Cincinnati.
• CB Shareece Wright: He led the Bills with 11 tackles, but that's not a good sign for a cornerback because it means other teams are frequently throwing at him. According to PFF, Wright allowed seven catches on nine balls thrown his way, for 65 yards.