In NFL preseason action on Saturday at Bills Stadium, the Buffalo Bills host the Indianapolis Colts.
Recall that the Bills enjoyed a strong regular season in 2021. They finished with an 11-6 record. That was good enough for a second straight division title and the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. It did not, however, quite match 2020's 13-3 record. In terms of statistics, the Bills' defense was ranked first in 2021.
The fact that Buffalo has one of the deepest rosters in the NFL should help them win. Josh Allen won't be starting, but again, they have great depth. No matter who plays, the Bills shouldn't have any trouble scoring since their quality will be on full display.
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#BillsMafia get excited!! We have Buffalo Bills pre-season football on tomorrow! The Bills host the Colts at 4 PM ET, on NFL Network. Can we get a retweet & a #GoBills?! pic.twitter.com/8rCmRc9pZV
— Built in Buffalo (@BuiltInBuffalo_) August 12, 2022
Bills Preseason Week 1 Predictions
4. Christian Benford will impress at CB
Rookie Christian Benford out of Villanova is a strong cornerback who ranks among the Bills' largest at 6'1 and 205 pounds. With 25 passes intercepted and 25 passes defended in college, Benford actually topped all FCS players.
Leslie Frazier, the defensive coordinator, has already given Benford some high praise during the offseason.
Benford has entered the scene largely unheralded and ignored. The Bills selected him in the sixth round, way behind Florida native Kaiir Elam. Experts believe Elam will become Tre'Davious White's long-term partner.
Elam hasn't had a particularly awful camp, though. He still hasn't convinced many people that he will be prepared on Day One.
On the other hand, Benford has been able to train with the first squad during camp. He has somewhat exceeded expectations. There are now two open cornerback positions because White's recovery is still questionable.
Benford might push himself further into the first-team discussion with a great performance against the Colts.
3. A Jaquan Johnson sighting at Safety
Last season, in Week 2's game against the Houston Texans, Jaquan Johnson started for the first time in his career because Jordan Poyer was injured. As a member of a secondary that limited the Texans to just 87 yards in the air, Johnson was uop to the task. In fact, Johnson added another interception to the pile against Houston's awful offense.
Poyer is recovering from a hyperextended elbow and will likely be sidelined for a few weeks, so Johnson will have plenty of opportunities this offseason. Johnson, in fact, has been the sole safety practicing with Micah Hyde and the first team.
Although there is no permanent starting position available, Johnson will most likely start and get extensive playing time at least against the Colts. Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott will undoubtedly be watching Johnson's leadership of a very inexperienced defensive back group against the Colts in addition to his on-field talent.
Jaquan Johnson & Damar Hamlin both in at safety last year vs HOU#Bills show a 2 high pre-snap shell, then Hamlin spins down post snap as the Bills run Cover 3
Johnson reads Davis Mills’ eyes & takes a good angle to the ball for the INT#BillsMafia
— Anthony Cover 1 (@Pro__Ant) August 3, 2022
2. No Josh Allen
The Bills have pretty much solidified their quarterback position. Head coach Sean McDermott has also made it clear that Josh Allen won't be playing in the first preseason game. Veteran Case Keenum, who guided the Browns to two victories last year when Baker Mayfield was out, is behind Allen. Matt Barkley is another seasoned quarterback for the Colts.
This shouldn't be a huge surprise. Last year, Allen played in just one preseason game, so the Bills are wise to minimize any injury risk. The remainder of the starters, though, have not yet been decided, according to McDermott. These will arrive on a case-by-case basis.
Case Keenum should be able to manage the offense effectively enough. Although Keenum is no longer a starter-caliber quarterback, he can still be an effective passer and should have no issue connecting with the Bills' talented skill-position players. The Bills acquired Keenum this summer through trade. The 34-year-career old has had 76 career games. He has thrown 78 touchdown passes and 48 interceptions.
Barkley, meanwhile, will be in his fourth season with Buffalo in 2022, but in that time, he has only started one game. The USC product has made 19 appearances and has thrown 11 touchdown passes for an overall average of 142.1 passing yards per game.
1. Bills still win
Sean McDermott has demonstrated that he is a coach who likes to win in the preseason, despite the fact that we won't see the majority of the key players for the Bills. He has a preseason record of 10-5 straight up, which includes a 3-0 record in 2018 and a 3-0 record in 2019.
Due to their prior preseason success, the Bills are the favored team in this matchup. McDermott, in fact, has won 7 straight preseason games. Overall, McDermott has led the Bills to a 9-2 record in his previous 11 preseason contests.
Even without Josh Allen and some other main starters, the Bills should have enough depth to outlast the Colts. Playing on their home field shouldn't hurt, too.