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The Detroit Lions host the Buffalo Bills Friday night in the third NFL preseason game for both teams. Week 3 in the preseason is typically the best one — and the one to watch as this is the game where you’ll see the starters for a decent chunk of the game. It’ll be a good glimpse into where these two rebuilding teams are in their development. Kickoff is at 8:00 p.m. Eastern at Ford Field in Detroit.
Bills go 2-0 in the preseason
The Buffalo Bills are coming off another Buffalo Bills type season as they finished 6-10 and out of the playoffs. It was a disappointing year in that they finished 10-6 and made the playoffs the year before and fans were hoping they had finally turned the corner. And here we are, at the start of another season, where hope springs eternal. The Bills have actually looked halfway decent in the first two preseason games — which is something — not a lot, but something. They beat Indianapolis 24-16 in preseason week 1, then knocked off Carolina 27-14 in week 2 to go 2-0. QBs Matt Barkley and Josh Allen both saw significant action with Barkley going 8 for 10 for 110 yards and a touchdown, while Allen went 9 for 11 for 12 yards. LaSean McCoy saw little action, but had a touchdown, while Tyree Jackson and TJ Yeldon got most of the carries. Rookie running back Christian Wade continues to impress as he made a great run after catch on a screen and almost scored. He led the team with 48 receiving yards. Newcomer Cole Beasley had 5 receptions for 44 yards, while Duke Williams and Devin Singletary each had 3 catches.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) August 17, 2019
The biggest question coming into the 2019 season revolves around the quarterback, Josh Allen. Allen showed flashes in his rookie year, but the team really struggled offensively, ranking near the bottom of the league in yards per game, points, and total offense. With a year under his belt, it will be interesting to see what Allen does in year two. The running game was solid, led by LeSean McCoy, but without the threat of the pass, teams were able to just key in on McCoy and the running game. McCoy is back but he’s 31 and they also have veteran Frank Gore, who is 36. They did pick up third-down back TJ Yeldon from the Jags, so he will help with the passing game out of the backfield. Devin Singletary Marcus Murphy and Christian Wade may also see time. The Bills did address a big problem on the offensive line by adding center Mitch Morse, guards Jon Feliciano and Quinton Spain, and tackle Cody Ford – a second-round draft pick. All four are expected to start.
The Bills also picked up Ryan Bates in a recent trade with the Eagles and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was impressed with his first game.
“I think he did a good job,” Daboll said. “That’s obviously a tough position to play up front. Again, I’ll give credit to Bobby [Johnson], Heff [Terry Heffernan] and Wendy [Ryan Wendell]. You get these new guys, whether it’s trades or signings, and you have to get them up to speed as quickly as you can. They did a good job with him and credit to the kid, he’s a guy who can play all five positions. He did a really nice job, I’m glad we have him.”
They also added some much-needed talent at wide receiver by bringing in John Brown from the Ravens and Cole Beasley from Dallas. They join returning receivers Zay Jones and Robert Foster. Charles Clay left, so the Bills are counting on Tyler Kroft and 3rd round draft pick Dawson Knox.
The defense is less of a question mark. McDermott is a defensive coach and the Bills had a top 5 total defense last year. They lost perennial Pro Bowler defensive tackle Kyle Williams, but they drafted who they hope is his replacement in Ed Oliver with their first-round pick this year. The front 7 is strong with defensive end Jerry Hughes, and linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Tremaine Edmunds. The secondary is excellent, led by cornerback Tre’Davious White, who is one of the best in the game. Levi Wallace, Taron Johnson and Cam Lewis are among those battling for the other cornerback spot. Both safeties from last year — Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde — are back, giving the Bills a strong secondary.
Lions get stomped by Texans
The Detroit Lions lost their second straight game of the preseason, falling to the Texans 30-23. While the result was the same, they performed much better this week than last when they only scored 3 points in a loss to the Patriots. Matthew Stafford didn’t play but backup David Fales had a good game, going 12 for 19 for 226 yards and a touchdown. Mark Thompson had 23 yards on the ground while Zach Zenner and Kerryon Johnson each had 17 with Zenner and Thompson scoring touchdowns. Andy Jones had 2 catches for 60 yards while Brandon Powell has 3 receptions for 53 yards and Travis Fulgham had 3 catches for 52 yards. They all will be fighting for time as the 4th receiver after Jermaine Kearse was lost for the season in preseason week 1.
The Lions are heading into the 2019 season looking to add some balance to their offense. No longer, it appears, will they put their hopes solely on the arm of quarterback Matthew Stafford. Last year, running back Kerryon Johnson had a breakout year and he figures to be featured once again. They also added veteran running back CJ Anderson from the Rams. He’ll provide a nice one-two punch with Johnson. They also brought back Zach Zenner to provide a change of pace. The offensive line suffered the loss of pro-bowler TJ Lang, who is retiring. But the rest of the line is intact. The receiving corps lost Kearse, but still has solid starters in Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and off-season pick up Danny Amendola. Second-year players Chris Lacy and Andy Jones may be among the players counted on to fill the void left by Kearse, or they’ll go out and get someone else. The Lions also shored up the tight end position, signing Jesse James from the Steelers and drafting TJ Hockenson from Iowa in the first round.
The biggest offseason move came on defense as the Lions signed former Patriot Trey Flowers to play defensive end. Flowers had a great year in 2018 with 7.5 sacks and he was the best defensive end on the market. He’ll join all-pro nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison and defensive end Romeo Okwara, who also had 7.5 sacks last year, upfront. Middle linebacker Jarrad Davis, who led the team in tackles, anchors the linebacking corps. The secondary is led by pro bowler Darius Slay at cornerback. The Lions picked up Justin Coleman from Seattle to play the other corner. At safety, they lost Glover Quin to free agency, but still have Quandre Diggs back there playing centerfield. They also drafted safety Will Harris from Boston College.
- Lions are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.
- Lions are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games on fieldturf.
- Bills are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games on fieldturf.
- Buffalo is 6-1 ATS off SU fave loss
Updated on Aug 23 at 8:40am EDT
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
The Bills have gone from +2.5 to -2 and that is consistent with the fact that they have gotten 78% of the bets this week.
Injury / Weather Report
Buffalo’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: DB Taron Johnson, Center Russell Bodine, and OT Conor McDermott.
Out: TE Dawson Knox and TE Tyler Kroft
Detroit’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: QB Tom Savage
Out: FB Nick Bawden and LB Steve Longa
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Take the Bills. The Lions have been a hot mess so far in the Matt Patricia era. That’s not to say things can’t turn around, but the feeling is much more positive in Buffalo. The Bills are 2-0 with 2 impressive preseason wins. But beyond that, there has been a culture shift under second-year coach Sean McDermott and there’s a belief in that locker room that this team can compete. I think we’ll find out that last year was a blip and the Bills will be a team to be reckoned with, now and into the future. Game 3 of the preseason is always the best, so expect to see a pretty heavy does of starters in this one. I just think in this one, you go with the better team, and that’s the Bills.
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the under. The Lions offense has struggled to score points and i don’t think it will get any easier against one of the league’s best defensive unit. The Lions are trying to transition from a passing team to a running team, which means they’ll be involved in lower scoring games than we’re used to seeing from a Matt Stafford led offense. The Bills have been surprisingly good on offense, but they are also a run first team so expect a lot of ball control and a low scoring game. The under is 6-1 in Bills last 7 road games and 4-1 in their last 5 games on turf. Also, the under 5-0 in Lions last 5 home games and 7-0 in their last 7 games overall. And in the last 6 meetings between these two teams, the under is 6-0.