Thad’s Three Things: Bills at Chargers

Three things on my Christmas list as the Bills get ready for a holiday trip to Hollywood…

No Christmas Miracle

The Chargers season is over, but they do have a reason to be up this week. Brandon Staley was fired after the 42 point drubbing against the Raiders. Giff Smith is the interim coach.

I talked with Kyle Allen about how teams might act under an interim coach. His second season was in Carolina when Ron Rivera was fired with four weeks to go. Perry Fewell reprised his role as Buffalo interim head coach by taking over and presiding over four straight losses to close Carolina’s season.

Allen made it clear every interim coach situation is different. It depends on the makeup of the players, level of experience, regard for the previous coach, etc. He was leery that the Chargers will have someone new in charge of their defense. Even with the same personnel, it’s hard to be properly prepared for a coordinator the Bills have not seen with this team all season. Or ever.

Regardless, the coaching change is a clean slate for a Los Angeles team that’s put together another frustrating, disappointing season with probably one of the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL. It’s an excuse to be optimistic on a franchise best known for making good on pessimism.

The Bills need to nip that in the bud. Early. Get on top by two touchdowns and force the Chargers to rally through a guy named after what every hockey kid wants for Christmas. Easton Stick isn’t leading a crazy comeback against a playoff contender.

Don’t mess around. Don’t allow hope. Get the Chargers dreaming about vacation and worried more about getting there healthy than with a few wins.

Keep Cook-in

This is a point from the department of It’s Not About The Game, It’s About The Season, but I’d like to see Joe Brady keep the run game involved and important.

This is going to be counterintuitive for Saturday. The Chargers have been a very solid run D the last couple months. They are bottom five against the pass in every way. Brady’s greatest strength so far is to not overthink calling a game. He’s happy to keep doing the logical and obvious thing if it’s working. And in this game, a Josh Allen spitfire is the logical and obvious thing.

That said, the Bills have some momentum in the run game. James Cook (and even Ty Johnson) were in a zone against the Cowboys. The O-Line got to have some fun proving they can create run lanes as efficiently as they can clean pockets.

I think this is the best avenue for a reliable #2 option after the Allen to Stefon Diggs connection. The most likely breaking pitch that can be as nasty as the fastball. Keep pushing it. Keep working it. Keep it humming so the Bills can better use it during the playoffs (which very well could start week 18 at Miami).

The Mack Truck

While the Chargers continue to perfect the art of underwhelming, there’s a Buffalo product that just keeps churning out elite seasons and he’s dialed in again this year.

Khalil Mack is third in the NFL with 15 sacks, better than one per game. Allen made it clear Mack will have his attention on Saturday and deservedly so. The good news for the Bills is that the offensive line Allen this week called the best group he’s been around should provide a good amount of protection against the former University at Buffalo star.

Bottom line, the Bills to need to make sure they block Mack. Like… a lot.

Betting Things

I remain on the struggle bus with my prop picks as Allen again refused to cash a rushing over. This one against the Cowboys was quite understandable with Cook churning out the ground yards at will. I’m now down to 8-6 on the season, but still ahead 3.6 units. In fact, I’m guaranteed a plus season at this point.

Not that we’re happy to settle. I still need one more win to have more W’s than L’s. As mentioned above, the Chargers pass D seems quite a fruitful place to try my luck. LAC has allowed at least 60 yards to a number one receiver in seven of their last ten games.

The Stefon Diggs yardage line I grabbed on FanDuel is 67.5 yards. That’s a bit more than 60 obviously and, if we change the line to 68 yards, the Lightning Bolts have only given that up in four of the last ten. Still, the best #1 receivers have put up the best numbers. Amon-Ra St. Brown, DeVante Adams and CeeDee Lamb all topped 100 yards against the Chargers. I feel good putting money on Diggs to reach 68 (-115). The other big risk here is the Bills only needing their first team offense for three quarters.

The Pick

Not much drama with this prediction. The Bills have something to play for. The Chargers don’t. The Bills have the wildly better quarterback. Even the term “Los Angeles homefield advantage” will almost certainly turn out an oxymoron. There’s a ton going Buffalo’s way on paper.

It doesn’t take too long to find a game with similar expectations that concluded with egg all over Sean McDermott’s face. If the Bills can lose to Mac Jones and Zach Wilson on the road, they can definitely lose to Easton Stick on the road.

The demolishing of Dallas undoubtedly provides a different view of the Bills at this point. Taken in concert with Brady’s work improving the offense and it’s hard to see the team that came out of the bye falling on their face as they did before the bye.

And I’m sure as hell not gonna pick that to happen. Western New York won’t have to wait for Santa for all to have a very good night. Give me the Bills cruising to a 37-6 win.

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