Bills out to prove they're for real with Eagles up next
By JOHN WAWROW
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Bills receiver Cole Beasley isn't at all surprised to hear the Philadelphia Eagles are fired up following last weekend's dud at Dallas.
Before signing with Buffalo in March, Beasley spent his first seven seasons with the Cowboys to understand how much any loss to their NFC East rivals stung, never mind a 37-10 rout.
"If they weren't (ticked) off I'd be worried about them," Beasley said, as the Bills (5-1) prepare to host the Eagles (3-4) on Sunday. "I hope they're mad. They're going to come out playing their butts off."
Perhaps, this is the type of challenge the Bills could use in facing questions of whether they're for real or merely benefiting from an easy opening schedule that so far includes one opponent - New England - with a winning record.
The collection of skeptics grew after Buffalo needed two second-half turnovers and an onside kickoff returned for a touchdown to seal a 31-21 victory over winless Miami on Sunday.
Center Mitch Morse disputed the notion the Bills - a win short of matching their best starting in 26 years - deserve criticism for beating the Dolphins but failing to beat the huge point spread.
"It's tough to win. For people trying to take away from the bad team we played against it's not fair," Morse said. "Those dudes can play ball."
The Eagles, on paper at least, can play better.
"I'm still highly confident in our football team," coach Doug Pederson said. "Our guys are a little mad. They're a little upset, which they should be. We haven't played well."
After improving to 3-2 following two straight wins, the Eagles regressed in losing their past two, starting with a 38-20 loss at Minnesota in Week 6.
Injuries are an issue with starting defensive tackles Malik Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway sidelined. Philadelphia opened this week by signing practice squad defensive tackles Anthony Rush and Albert Huggins, with both having chances to play Sunday.
Pederson could at least crack a joke when informed Bills coach Sean McDermott referred to the Eagles as having one of the deepest defensive fronts.
"Is he counting the guys on IR, too?" Pederson said with a laugh.
The Eagles have just two catches of 30-plus yards from a receiver since DeSean Jackson had TD receptions of 53 and 51 yards in a 32-27 season-opening win against Washington. Jackson hasn't played since Week 2 because of an abdomen injury. Alshon Jeffery (30 yards) and Nelson Agholor (43) have the two other long receptions.
Both players had tough weeks.
Jeffery denied he was the anonymous source in a report that criticized Carson Wentz and the offensive scheme. Agholor had to defend himself from criticism after failing to track the ball well on a deep pass from Wentz.
"I wouldn't say it's frustrating. Obviously, you want to hit every throw that you put out there," Allen said. "Haven't been doing a good enough job with that, if I'm getting all these questions."
WHO DO YOU LOVE?
McDermott winked when asked if he has a particular affinity for Tre'Davious White, because the cornerback was the first player the Bills drafted after he took over in 2017.
"I love all my guys," McDermott said of White, whose two takeaways led to touchdowns against Miami. "You know if I say yes, then the whole team's going to get on me. It's like my kids.
STOPPING THE RUN
The Eagles were excellent against the run until Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott became the first to top 100 yards against them since he did it last season. Elliott had 111 of Dallas' 189 yards rushing.
The Bills are seventh in rushing with an average of 135.8 yards per game, and led by 15-year veteran Frank Gore, who has 388 yards and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry. If that's not all, opponents must contend with Allen, who's second on the team with 190 yards rushing.
"It's not just his athleticism, it's their willingness to run him," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said, noting it's similar to how Carolina uses Cam Newton. "They have probably a more varied run game than any team we've faced."
DEAL OR NO DEAL
With the trade deadline approaching Tuesday, McDermott didn't feel the Bills needed to add talent to reinforce a message the team is a legitimate playoff contender.
"I think they know where we stand," he said. "I'm extremely confident in the guys that we have."
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed.
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Updated October 24, 2019