After what felt like a bad dream last week, the Buffalo Bills woke up and absolutely throttled the New York Jets 45-17 in front of their home crowd. Buffalo left no doubt as to what type of team they are as they piled on the points and extended their points differential to a whopping +145 which is 47 points over second-place team Arizona Cardinals.
Everything about the game was a get-right opportunity. The running backs all scored a TD, the passing game spread around 8 different targets, keeping the Jets defense guessing. In addition, the Bills’ defensive backs all hauled in an interception of their own totaling 4 on the day plus a forced fumble. Great teams impose their will on the opponent, leaving no doubt who is the better competitor.
To top it off, the Bills exited with minimal injuries as they look to gear up to play the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints next week. Below are the known injuries coming out of Sunday.
DT Star Lotulelei (COVID)
About an hour before inactives were announced, it was reported that Star Lotulelei tested positive for COVID and would miss the game. In his place, the Bills elevated Brandin Bryant but did not activate him for the game.
It is not clear whether Lotulelei is vaccinated, but since he tested positive, he is required to be out for 10 days. The hope is that he is vaccinated and that he has mild symptoms and recovers fully. However, this means he will miss next week’s game against the Colts and is in serious danger of missing the matchup against the Saints in Week 13 if he is not cleared or ready to perform.
Clarification 11/17/21: I had stated that he would be out 10 days. This is true if he had tested positive and was symptomatic. If he tested positive and was asymptomatic and vaccinated, he could return in as soon as 5 days as long as testing is negative and cleared to return.
If he is unvaccinated, he would have to wait 10 days, have negative tests, and be cleared to return. Based on the wording from Sean McDermott, it appears as though he tested positive.
This is highly unfortunate and the realities of living and operating within a pandemic. I wish him the best of luck in his recovery.
OT Dion Dawkins (Wind knocked out)
Dawkins had to exit briefly late in the 1st quarter with 2:05 left after getting the wind knocked out of him after he tackled a Jets defensive lineman that resulted in a flag.
He walked off briefly to compose himself and returned the next offensive series. He did not exit the game again until the very end when the victory formation was initiated.
WR Emmanuel Sanders (Left Wrist/Hand)
Sanders exited the game holding his left hand/wrist area after getting tackled on an end-around run towards the right side of the field with 12:34 left in the 3rd quarter.
By video, it’s not clear what exactly he injured. He attempted to block with his left hand as he went out of bounds and fell onto his back near the end zone. The fingers all appeared to be in anatomical position ruling out any possible dislocations or even fractures. He may have gotten the hand caught up in a jersey going down or hit the wrist not seen on film.
He continued to play after this injury and did not appear to be limited in any way afterward, signifying this may be a minor issue. I’d be surprised if he shows up on the injury report.
CB Levi Wallace (Right Hand/Wrist)
Wallace went to the sidelines for a moment early in the 2nd quarter with 14:56 left after assisting with a tackle near the line of scrimmage. Nothing initially appeared to be wrong during the play, but reports came out that he was being tended to on the sidelines by trainers.
Upon review, it appeared as though he got his right hand stuck between several bodies as they all fell down. This may be more of a pain issue, but he also quickly returned and played in the majority of the game. He is also another player that I don’t expect to show up on the injury report.
S Micah Hyde (Right Thigh)
Hyde required the assistance of the medical staff briefly following a tackle going out of bounds late in the 3rd quarter with 32 seconds left.
Reviewing the film, his outside right thigh hits the leg of a Jets offensive player as they fell. This too also appears to be more of a pain issue than actual injury. He required some time to work out the leg but was quickly after to return, continuing his stellar play. At worst, this could be a thigh contusion but I’m not certain it would limit him or even appear on the injury report Wednesday.
WR Isaiah McKenzie (Right Leg/Ankle)
McKenzie suffered a right lower leg injury midway through the 4th quarter with 6:44 left as he attempted to get into the end zone on a jet sweep. He was twisted down by his left leg and fortunately narrowly missed having Spencer Brown fall on top of him.
However, McKenzie’s right ankle/shin area was caught under the Jets defender, leaving him withering in pain for several moments, limping off.
He was able to get back to the sidelines and walk off the injury, later returning for one final kickoff return indicating the injury was minor.
During the press conference Monday, Sean McDermott confirmed that McKenzie was fine. While that is a statement that could be hiding the severity of the injury, I have learned to take the team at face value on certain things, including this quote.
WR Cole Beasley (Left Ribs)
Beasley only played in 9 snaps and it appeared to be more scheme-dependent based on the usage. McDermott noted that they were just trying to get him through the game.
We knew there was an injury and when it occurred. We also knew that he struggled to get through practice last week. We don’t have the details regarding the severity of the injury, but we will likely find out much later how severe this really was.
I’m not certain that he misses any future time unless the team announces they are shutting him down or if he doesn’t practice all week. This is another injury to watch how he progresses through his participation and game snaps.
LB Tremaine Edmunds (Hamstring)
Edmunds missed Week 10 with the hamstring strain suffered against the Jaguars after not practicing all week. He has since been termed “day-to-day” which typically means that he’s getting better but not quite there yet. Based on that wording, he is in danger of missing the next game against the Colts, but that is far from certain at this moment.
The severity isn’t known and his practice participation will be the determining factor whether he suits up next Sunday. Edmunds doesn’t have a long history of hamstring strains, but rushing him back will do him and the team no favors. The Bills have shown the ability to get by with certain players for a game at a time, but extended absences really expose shortcomings of the particular player’s position at times.
DT Eli Ankou
The team is reportedly going to sign Eli Ankou, a career journeyman that spent some time with Buffalo during training camp. This signing is due to the recent ACL tear of Justin Zimmer and especially while Star Lotulelei is out with COVID. His injury profile is linked here.
Overall, the team is back on track at 6-3 and still very much in control of their own destiny. I expect the Colts game to be much more aggressive and formidable than the Jets, but the Bills are still favored by -7 by the sportsbooks. While betting lines don’t hold weight if the teams don’t perform, they’re usually a nice barometer in determining what the public perception of the team is at the moment.
These next two games will be very important in determining the course of the season. The potential to be 8-3 vs 7-4 vs 6-5 is razor thin and the Bills cannot have any slip-ups. It would be excellent to be 8-3 heading into a Monday night showdown at home against the New England Patriots. The team knows what it has to do, they have to simply execute every week.
Top Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated