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Week 15 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 13, Buffalo Bills 14


What you need to know

Detroit Lions

Detroit’s offense struggled in a loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Without Bruce Ellington, the passing game revolved around Kenny Golladay who had his best game in recent weeks. Golladay was able to make several contested catches along the perimeter, but there were few other receiving threats to help Matthew Stafford. Zach Zenner drew the start over LeGarrette Blount and took over the goal line duties on Detroit’s second trip to the red zone, converting a short touchdown.

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo beat Detroit in a low scoring game at home. The game script was great for Josh Allen, as Buffalo’s defense was able to contain a depleted Detroit offense, which allowed Allen to make a handful of big plays to win the game. Allen rushed for a touchdown and hit Robert Foster on a long touchdown pass. Foster and Allen have developed a strong rapport in recent weeks, with Foster topping 90 yards in 4 out of the last 5 games. Foster’s deep speed and Allen’s big arm complement each other well in an offense that is more exciting than years past. Keith Ford led the Buffalo rushing attack with LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory both inactive, and starter Marcus Murphy dislocating his elbow in the first half.

Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 29 - 208 - 1 TD / 0 INT
Matthew Stafford continued to be plagued by a lack of weapons in the passing game against Buffalo. Stafford leaned heavily on Kenny Golladay, throwing several balls his way in tight coverage along the perimeter where Golladay was able to make plays. Outside of Golladay, there are few passing game weapons to help Stafford, especially with Bruce Ellington missing the game. Stafford did manage a red zone touchdown, a beautifully threaded pass to the back of the end zone to Andy Jones. Stafford also missed T.J. Jones up the seam and benefitted from a dropped interception across the middle of the field. Stafford could benefit from the return of Ellington and Kerryon Johnson next week against Minnesota.

RB Zach Zenner, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 45 - 1, Rec: 3 - 0 - 0 (4 targets)
Zach Zenner ran as the starter against Buffalo, after finishing strong last week against Arizona. Zenner ran with better explosion and burst than LeGarrette Blount, which was a good upgrade for the Detroit offense. Zenner can run on the interior and get to the edge of the defense as well as contribute in the passing game. LeGarrette Blount received two carries inside the five-yard line in the first half but was stopped for no gain on each. On the next drive, Zenner got an opportunity for carries inside the five-yard line and scored a touchdown. His first carry was initially ruled a touchdown but overturned on review, but Zenner was able to convert on the next play for a touchdown. Kerryon Johnson remains the starter in Detroit, but Zenner will likely draw another start next week if Johnson misses the game against Minnesota.

RB Theo Riddick, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 47 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets)
Theo Riddick saw expanded use in the running game against Buffalo and had several successful interior runs. Riddick nearly scored a touchdown on an interior run where he broke into the second level of the defense and was barely tripped up inside the 5-yard line. While Riddick was used more in the running game, his passing game usage dropped with only two short catches on three targets, despite slot target Bruce Ellington missing the game. Riddick will face Minnesota next week.

RB LeGarrette Blount, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 9 - 0 (1 targets)
LeGarrette Blount was replaced as the starting running back by Zach Zenner against the Buffalo Bills. Blount still saw seven carries, including two inside the five that were stopped for no gain. On the next drive, Zach Zenner was able to convert his opportunity at the goal line into a touchdown. Blount was largely ineffective, including a miscommunication on a handoff that nearly resulted in a fumble. Blount is trending in the wrong direction heading into his week 16 matchup against Minnesota.

WR Kenny Golladay, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 146 - 0 (8 targets)
Kenny Golladay had his best game since becoming the lead WR in Detroit. Golladay was targeted early with a crossing route for a chunk gain that started his day on a good note. Golladay continued his positive momentum, catching three deep catches in contested coverage, including one that should have been intercepted. Golladay also drew a defensive holding, but the play was offset by an offensive penalty. His success was largely a result of Matthew Stafford’s willingness to throw balls that relied on Golladay’s ability to make contested catches. Golladay continues to struggle to separate on perimeter routes but succeeded by making multiple tough contested catches on targets he has not seen in recent weeks.


Buffalo Bills

QB Josh Allen, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 26 - 204 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 9 - 16 - 1
Josh Allen was able to make enough plays against the Detroit Lions to win a low scoring affair. The game is the type of script where Josh Allen can succeed: good defensive play to keep games close with Allen making a handful of deep throws and plays with his legs to win. Allen started the game well, leading an early scoring drive where he finished the drive with a scramble for a rushing touchdown. Allen made multiple reads across the field on the play before resorting to scrambling, a development in his passing skills from earlier in the season. Allen later threw a long touchdown to Robert Foster on a deep over route. He has been making better decisions as a thrower, avoiding the big mistakes he made earlier in the season for turnovers. Allen had a shot for more through the air, including a beautifully thrown corner route that drew a defensive pass interference which set up Allen’s rushing score. He also overthrew Deonte Thompson on a deep throw which Thompson could have scored on and made a throw to Zay Jones who could not make a contested catch on the play. Allen had less success on the ground this week, as the Lions played more zone and kept spies around the line of scrimmage to keep Allen from running. The Bills play New England next week, so expect a similar type of game plan as their former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia used this week.

RB Keith Ford, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 46 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets)
Keith Ford took over after Marcus Murphy left with an injury. Ford was elevated from the practice squad this week and saw an extended opportunity with LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory both missing the game with injuries. Ford is a bigger back and Buffalo used him on simple interior run schemes. Ford struggled when forced to change direction on interior runs but was serviceable running north and south. He also caught a pass in the flat from the slot and made a nice play to elude a defender on a screen pass that was called back by penalty. Ford will face New England next week, but the status of McCoy and Ivory is critical to watch during the week.

RB Marcus Murphy, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 35 - 0
Marcus Murphy started for the Buffalo Bills against Detroit, with LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory both missing the game against Detroit with injuries. The running back position for Buffalo is hazardous, as Murphy left the game with a dislocated elbow. Prior to his injury, Murphy was the lead back including an unsuccessful carry inside Detroit’s 5-yard line. Murphy was not targeted in the passing game. His dislocated elbow will likely threaten his season with only two weeks remaining.

WR Isaiah McKenzie, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 6 - 53 - 0 (7 targets)
Isaiah McKenzie saw a team high in targets and led the Bills in receptions against the Detroit Lions. McKenzie has been developing a more expanded role in the offense and showed a good rapport with Josh Allen while working the middle of the field. McKenzie was able to make a catch in tight coverage across the middle and made a man miss on a screen pass. McKenzie fell and looked to suffer a non-contact injury on a punt return but returned to the game. He will look to continue his strong play next week at New England.

WR Robert Foster, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 108 - 1 (5 targets)
Robert Foster continued his recent stretch of good play against Detroit. Foster got open on a deep crossing route for a long touchdown on what turned out to be the game winning touchdown. Foster has developed into a good deep threat for Buffalo, catching another deep crossing route, a deep corner, and nearly scoring a second touchdown on a corner route. Foster was open on the play but dragged down inside the five-yard line on a defensive pass interference that set up Buffalo’s first score. He will face New England next week and be a high upside but risky play with a rookie quarterback in Foxboro in the championship week of fantasy playoffs.

WR Zay Jones, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (6 targets)
Zay Jones struggled against Detroit managing only one catch on a curl route. Jones had the opportunity for a bigger day, with a deep target he was not able to catch in contested coverage and a drop on a post route. He also drew a defensive pass interference on an out and up along the sideline. Jones has struggled with drops in recent weeks after several weeks of strong play. He will look to rebound next week in New England.