Now that the Bills are eliminated from playoff contention, the rest of the season is about preparing for the future. Josh Allen's development is the focus, but finding his surrounding cast is just as important.
How many of next season's starters do the Bills currently have on the roster? That question came up in Jay Skurski's weekly Bills mailbag.
Skurski listed Allen, left tackle Dion Dawkins and wide receiver Zay Jones as locks. He put running back LeSean McCoy and tight end Charles Clay in the "maybe" category and added that rookie receiver Robert Foster, rookie lineman Wyatt Teller and center Russell Bodine could make the starting lineup, too.
But Skurski settled on six new starters: Tight end, two wide receivers and three offensive linemen. That leaves five returning starters: Allen, Dawkins, Jones, McCoy and one of the returning lineman.
Bills' Derek Anderson finally out of concussion protocol: Anderson was cleared Friday after an unusually long recovery from a concussion. Anderson could theoretically be cut at any time now and the Bills could get a savings on the $200,000 and change he's owed over the final three games, but Allen seems to enjoy having him around, so that alone may keep him employed for the rest of the season.
One-on-One Coverage: Micah Hyde made the playoffs in each of his first five NFL seasons, but this year was different. He spoke with Vic Carucci about dealing with missing playoffs for the first time in this week's edition of One-on-One Coverage.
Reliable safety tandem helps Bills bid for No. 1 pass defense ranking: Speaking of Hyde, Mark Gaughan wrote about the Bills' safety tandem powering the defense to a No. 1 ranking. This feels especially impressive given the way Vontae Davis left the team. Cornerback will be an area of need for the Bills this offseason, but credit Sean McDermott for piecing this unit together.
Bills-Lions Scouting Report: Vic Carucci wrote that the Bills’ pass rush needs to show its teeth after failing to get to Sam Darnold. Mark Gaughan wrote that the Lions may make Josh Allen try to win from the pocket, which sounds like a common criticism of Tyrod Taylor. On offense, Buffalo's running game really needs to get going whether McCoy plays or not, and the Lions like getting the ball to receiver Kenny Golladay on the boundary.
Predictions for Bills vs. Lions in Week 15: Three of our five pickers went with the Lions, with Mark Gaughan adding that this would be a bad loss for Detroit QB Matt Stafford.
The numbers behind Robert Foster's emergence: Allen seems to have good chemistry with Foster, who is one of the fastest players on the team. "Foster's average depth of target of 26.8 yards is the most among all receivers in the NFL this year with at least five targets," Chris wrote.
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