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Football Team at Bills Preview: Matchups, Storylines, Betting Lines and a Prediction

Buffalo seeks its first win at home while hosting its second straight playoff qualifier from 2020.

That only seven of the NFL's 32 teams remain undefeated after two weeks should tell fans (and players) everything they need to know about the league's parity and how each week presents a unique challenge for every team.

That thought is what coach Sean McDermott has been beating into the heads of his heavily favored Buffalo Bills, who will host the Washington Football Team on Sunday.

Both teams have split their first two games, and their head coaches are longtime friends who worked together in Carolina and Philadelphia, which should make for an excellent chess match.

So let's get to the details:

THE BASICS

Game: Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.

Venue: Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y.

Records: Football Team 1-1; Bills 0-1.

Betting info: Bills by 7½. Over/under 45½.

TV: FOX.

Football team depth chart

Bills depth chart

INJURIES

Football Team: DT Matt Ioannidis (knee) is questionable.

Bills: CBs Dane Jackson (knee) and Levi Wallace (knee) are questionable.

Perhaps as a result, two of the three practice-squad players the Bills have protected this week are cornerback Cam Lewis and safety Josh Thomas. The other is offensive lineman Jamil Douglas.

STORYLINES

Taylor Who?

When Washington lost starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to an injury in its opener, it was forced to turn back to Taylor Heinicke, who may not be a household name but did complete 34 of 46 passes for 336 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a come-from-behind victory over the New York Giants last week.

Not too shabby.

Bills coach Sean McDermott reminded everyone how Heinicke also was the quarterback in Washington's playoff loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay last season and how the game was decided by just one touchdown.

Allen's continuing struggles

A 35-0 shutout over the Miami Dolphins last week may suggest that Bills quarterback Josh Allen put a shaky performance in a Week 1, 23-16 loss to the Steelers behind him. But the fact is that he's still not close to his 2020 midseason form.

Then again, we're still pretty far from midseason.

Despite Allen having completed just 56% of his passes for 449 yards and three touchdowns, his coaches aren't worried.

"I got a lot of confidence in Josh," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "He's his harshest critic. It's not really any different than anything we do week-to-week. We try not to ride a rollercoaster. We try to be as consistent as we can in terms of corrections that we need to make.

"... We try to keep a level head, and this league is a tough league. It's a week-to-week league, and I'm glad that's what makes him a really good football player. He's so competitive and hard on himself. And he's fun to coach."

Running it back

The Bills elected to scratch running back Zack Moss for their opener. On his second touch of Week 2, he lost a fumble.

Not exactly a great start for someone who came into their offseason program as the top contender for the top running-back job.

But their confidence was not shaken. Moss came back to run for two touchdowns that capped long scoring drives in the fourth quarter as the Bills won in a runaway.

"This is not a game where it's mistake-free," Daboll said. "Whether you're coaching or playing, you're going to go through some obstacles. It could be physically, it could be mentally, it could be a play call, whatever it may be. And you have to be able to bounce back and you have to show belief in your players that that they're going to bounce back.

"I mean, if you pulled everybody because they made a mistake, you wouldn't really have anybody. And I don't think that's healthy anyways for the psyche of a team or a player. Showing confidence, showing trust, showing that you have the guy's back, I think, is important for a player, because I think that gives them confidence."

KEY MATCHUPS

Bills Ts Dion Dawkins and Daryl Williams vs. Football Team DEs Montez Sweat and Chase Young

Quick and strong, both Washington ends switch sides on a notoriusly good defense and are considered game-wreckers. It's almost a certainty that the Bills game-planned to deal with both of them, especially after the way the offensive line has struggled with protection issues through the first two weeks.

Sweat has 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble. Young had 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles as a rookie last season.

Bills CB Tre'Davious White vs. Football Team WR Terry McLaurin

McLaurin is coming off a season in which he caught 87 passes for 1,118 yards. Through two games this year, he's on pace for 153 and 1,437 and has caught 15 of 18 targets working mostly with a backup quarterback.

White has made the last two Pro Bowls and is one of the stickiest covers corners in the league.

But the pass rush and the safeties will play a part in this matchup too.

Bills DE Greg Rousseau vs. Football Team T Sam Cosmi

A fascinating matchup of rookies taken with premium draft picks.

Cosmi has been earning great grades since being taken in the second round out of Texas. Same for Miami product Rousseau after the Bills took him in the first round.

Although Cosmi has been better in the run game, he's already developing into one of the league's best all-around tackles, earning a spot on the Week 2 Team of the Week by Pro Football Focus.

Week 2 also saw Rousseau earn two sacks.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Football Team visitts the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday.

The Bills host the Houston Texans next Sunday.

PREDICTION

Last week's lopsided victory was a bit deceiving for the Bills, whose defense dominated the Dolphins but offense did not.

This week projects to be more of the same as the Bills face a quarterback who isn't among the league's elite but a defense and an opponent who have enough talent and more than enough knowledge to slow their offense.

But the Bills are tough to beat at home, despite losing their home opener two weeks ago. Last year, they lost just one game at home — to eventual AFC champion Kansas City.

Look for Buffalo's defense to get it done again while its offense continues to find its rhythm. Bills 23, Football Team 13.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.