This team has seen this quarterback before. They have played against him before. They beat this quarterback before. When they beat him, these teams were headed in different directions.
There were a lot of questions asked when the Buffalo Bills drafted quarterback Josh Allen from Wyoming in the first round. A lot of analysts believed he had a strong arm but no accuracy.
Things have changed.
Allen started his first NFL game against the Chargers in week two of the 2018 season. He had some good moments, like a three-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kelvin Benjamin or a 57-yard bomb to Zay Jones before halftime. He also had some bad moments. He threw two interceptions, was sacked five times, and overthrew some passes.
The Chargers won the game 31-20.
"Obviously very nervous," explained Allen about his first NFL start. "Things didn't turn out so great. When I look back at it, just how little I knew about our protection and our schemes. I should have, could have, would have, done a better job if I can go back in and do it all over now. It did teach me some valuable lessons, and I got to see some different things."
Boy, has Allen learned.
This season, he has been in the conversation for MVP at times because his team is 7-3 and his stats are up there. He has completed 68 percent of his passes, thrown for 2,871 yards, thrown for 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
Another area that Allen excels at is running the ball.
"I think the challenge with him is you don't know when," explained Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. "Hey, on third down, he'll look to scramble or in certain situations, but not only can he scramble, but they have designed run plays for him. So, it's almost like a wild cat without knowing it."
This season he has run the ball 72 times for 279 yards and five touchdowns. Allen's mobility creates a problem. The Chargers haven't been good at containing running quarterbacks. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes ran for 54 yards on six carries in week two.
"He's a beast, big guy," explained defensive end Joey Bosa. "He doesn't run like most quarterbacks. He's going to put his shoulder down and try to run right through you. So, you have to be ready for that."
How can they stop that?
"We got to get all eleven hats to the ball," said linebacker Denzel Perryman.
The Bills also have a three-headed monster at receiver. They made a trade in the offseason with the Minnesota Vikings for receiver Steffon Diggs. He has 906 yards in ten games this season with four touchdown receptions. Receiver Cole Beasley has also been a receiver Allen looks at, especially on third down. They will be without their third head receiver John Brown, who is dealing with an ankle injury.
"It feels more like Kansas City," said Bradley. "how they spread you out and make plays in space and some of the ways that they attack you."
That is a significant comparison for the Bills.
The Chargers defense this season is not the same one Allen faced in 2018. They have regressed. In 2018, they got to the quarterback consistently even without Bosa and got turnovers. This team is near the bottom in both categories and also near the bottom, allowing 27.3 points a game.
"We're still going up against a really good defense this week," said Allen. "Guys that know how to get to the passer. We got to be on our P's and Q's and understand whatever they throw our way, we got to be ready for it. Whether it be me protection and making adjustments or getting the ball out quicker, because they do have some guys that, like I said, get to the quarterback."
The Chargers will be missing some key players with defensive end Melvin Ingram, cornerback Casey Hayward, and defensive end Uchenna Nwosu all being ruled out. This is going to be a tough matchup because of everything Allen adds to this offense. There is a reason why this team is 7-3, and it starts with their number 17.
"Almost nine explosive plays a game," explained Bradley. "So, we've got our hands full, but we're looking forward to it. It'll be a great challenge for our guys. Rush and cover definitely have to work together in this game."