Here are predictions from members of The Buffalo News' sports staff on Sunday's Bills-Chargers home opener at New Era Field.
It’s hard to see the Bills again looking as incredibly inept as last week. Having a more talented quarterback in Josh Allen should help, even with the requisite rookie growing pains.
Philip Rivers and his many weapons will provide a major challenge, although the Bills’ defense should be able to generate more of a pass rush.
About the only good news this week for the Bills is that Chargers star pass rusher Joey Bosa is not expected to play Sunday because of a foot injury. Other than that, it’s been a long week at One Bills Drive. A performance like the season opener casts all sorts of doubt about the team’s prospects in 2018. No team looks like a particularly good matchup for the Bills right now, and that’s especially true of the Chargers, who have a high-powered passing attack to challenge Buffalo’s reeling secondary.
The wild card in all of this is, of course, Josh Allen, but given the issues around him (struggling offensive line, lack of proven threats at receiver) expectations for his first career start can’t be real high.
In the last eight games, the Chargers are averaging 454 yards a game. They ranked No. 1 in passing last year. Not great timing since the Bills still are sorting out their cornerbacks, and both Trent Murphy and Shaq Lawson aren’t 100 percent. Lawson’s status is uncertain.
The matchup of Bills WRs vs. Chargers cornerbacks doesn’t look great, either. And while it will be exciting to watch Josh Allen, the Bills lose the quarterback matchup, too.
The Chargers piled up 541 yards of offense in a 38-28 loss to the Chiefs, the most by any team in the league in Week 1. Philip Rivers passed for 424 yards and three touchdowns. So, it’s clear L.A. is going to put up points. But they’ll give 'em up in bunches, as well.
Can the Bills take advantage? Josh Allen showed he’s capable of moving the offense after taking over for Nathan Peterman during last Sunday's abomination in Baltimore. He’ll likely find some success in his first career start, but it’s difficult to imagine the Bills keeping pace with the Chargers’ offense.
Josh Allen’s first NFL start will be an upgrade for the Bills, and it marks the start of a rebuild after last weekend’s debacle in Baltimore. The Bills’ challenge – whether it’s tightening a porous offensive line or a spotty secondary, or both-- is to rally around their new quarterback, and to contain a team that had 541 yards of offense in Week 1.
Facing the Chargers and Philip Rivers, however, won’t cure the Bills’ woes.