The Raiders travel to upstate New York on Sunday to face the Bills in a matchup that could have AFC wild-card implications.
Oakland (3-4) possibly saved its season last week with a victory over the Chiefs that snapped a four-game losing streak. Buffalo is to 4-2 after defeating the Buccaneers in a high-scoring affair.
This could be the year the Bills end their 17-year playoff drought. But they also started 4-2 a year ago before finishing 7-9.
Here are five things you need to know about the Raiders’ Week 8 opponent:
1. The front office has given up on quarterback Tyrod Taylor a handful of times, but he continues to prove it wrong. Taylor isn’t putting up superstar numbers, but he’s efficient with a crew of no-name receivers. Taylor arguably had his best game last week, throwing for 268 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. That stat line doesn’t pop out, but keep in mind, he connected with Deonte Thompson four times for 107 yards, including a crucial 44-yarder on the game-tying drive. Thompson was signed six days prior. Taylor has a way of connecting with former castoffs and rallying his team.
2. Taylor’s best weapon, tight end Charles Clay, has missed the past few weeks with a knee injury. Logan Thomas and Nick O’Leary have stepped up. Cardinals fans are familiar with Thomas, a former quarterback who played under center for Arizona during the 2014 season. Thomas caught his first touchdown pass last week, a fitting one because he was Taylor’s backup at Virginia Tech. O’Leary had two big receptions for 58 yards during last week’s victory.
3. Buffalo’s brightest star is LeSean McCoy, but the running back known as “Shady” was in a midst of a brutal four-game stretch. McCoy finally broke out in Week 8 with 91 rushing yards and two touchdowns. In four previous games he combined for 169 yards and zero touchdowns. The Bills need McCoy to play at a high level if they want to end their playoff drought. The Raiders were able to contain Kareem Hunt for 87 rushing yards and didn’t let him get into the end zone.
4. For years the Bills have had a ferocious defensive line, and this year is no different with Shaq Lawson, Kyle Williams, Jerry Hughes and Marcell Dareus. But their best defensive player this season might be rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White. The LSU product has been shadowing the best receivers and is coming up with game-changing plays like he did last week when he forced a fumble with 2:28 left in regulation.
5. The Bills were written off before the season when they traded star receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ronald Darby. Bills coach Sean McDermott didn’t want to hear the word tank. With a lack of talent the first-time NFL coach has led the Bills to signature victories over the Broncos, Falcons and Buccaneers. McDermott has his team motivated and could be the early favorite for coach of the year.