Top 3 things to takeaway from the Buffalo Bills 42-15 victory over the Broncos

Buffalo Bills Josh Allen and Gabe Davis
Buffalo Bills’ Gabriel Davis, left, celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Josh Allen during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

The Buffalo Bills continued the NFL’s second-longest preseason winning streak after defeating the Denver Broncos 42-15 on Saturday afternoon. 

Much of the talk coming into the game was that Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills starters would be seeing their first preseason action, but the actual discussion of the game is way more centered around team depth than star power. 

While a preseason winning streak means nothing, the performances on the field may have implications for the regular season. So what are the key takeaways from this game?

Re-visiting Our Keys to the Game:

Before we dive into the three key takeaways, let’s look back at the five players/position battles we had our eyes on prior to the game

How Much Will the Starters Play?

The answer was essentially one drive. Josh Allen and the rest of the starters took the field for the first drive and march 70 yards for a touchdown, capped off by this ridiculous touchdown pass from Allen to Gabriel Davis.

That was all for Josh Allen, and Stefon Diggs would be pulled after he made one catch on the next drive. After two drives and two touchdowns, all of the Bills’ starters were on the bench. 

Can Isaiah Hodgins Continue Pushing for a Roster Spot?

A definite yes here. Hodgins caught three passes for 28 yards, all of them coming on three straight plays on a touchdown drive to end the first half. Hodgins showed good hands on his catches and the strength to come back to the ball and pluck it away in traffic. Perhaps more importantly, Hodgins played on the Bills’ kickoff coverage units, which will help him make the roster if he can prove special teams value.  

Can Case Keenum Bounce Back?

Ummm…yes. We know that the Bills only need Keenum as a backup, but having a strong veteran presence in case anything happens to Josh Allen is crucial. After a poor first game, Keenum finished Saturday 16-18 for 192 yards and a touchdown. He destroyed the Broncos’ backups and while that’s not necessarily something to brag about, it should quell any concerns about the quality of the man sharing a QB room with Allen. 

Can Baylon Spector Repeat his Week 1 Performance?

He certainly proved it wasn’t a fluke. For the second straight week, Spector led the Bills in tackles. Now, this also means he’s playing a lot more snaps and is not close to the starting lineup, so we have to take it with a large grain of salt. Still, Spector has shown good speed and athleticism and solid fundamentals in wrapping up ballcarriers. It still may not be enough to crack the Buffalo Bills’ 53-man roster, but he has proven he belongs in the NFL. 

What Performance Will We Get From the Young Defensive Ends?

It was a solid showing from the young defenders. Greg Rousseau played a couple of drives and picked up a QB hit, but was removed from the game early, which further solidifies that he will be starting alongside Von Miller. AJ Epenesa looked good for the second straight week. Slimmed down and more explosive, Epenesa was in the backfield a few times on Saturday. However, he was also subbed out before halftime, which suggests he might be the first defensive end off the bench. 

Boogie Basham and Shaq Lawson both played in the second half, which Shaw Lawson playing deeper into the game, signifying that he’s at the end of the defensive end peeking order. Still, the crew appears deep and more explosive than they were last year. 

Buffalo Bills Zack Moss
Buffalo Bills’ Zack Moss celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

Three Key Takeaways

All Three Running Backs Are Likely to Play

This may be really bad news for fantasy football managers, but it’s great news for the Bills. All offseason we’ve been hearing that Zack Moss has had a great training camp and is finally healthy after dealing with an ankle injury last season. So far, through two games, Moss has shown that to be the case. He is running with more power and explosion and finishing hard in the red zone, which should give him a short-yardage role. 

We know Devin Singletary is going to be the nominal starter, but it’s also becoming increasingly clear that it will be hard to keep James Cook off of the field. He runs like he’s shot out of a cannon, rushing through the hole and giving the Bills a home run threat every time he touches the ball. 


All three runners offer a bit of a diverse skill set that can make this offense even more dynamic and dangerous than it was last season. 


Could O.J. Howard be Traded?

Yes, O.J. Howard scored a touchdown on Saturday, but he was also the third tight end to enter the game on a day where Dawson Knox didn’t play. Quintin Morris started the game for the Bills and played the first five snaps. Tommy Sweeney played one before Howard also entered the game. Howard would go on to play more snaps than any of them, a potentially concerning development in the second preseason game. 

We know that Howard has struggled throughout training camp, and his failure to truly separate himself from Morris and Sweeney could mean that the Bills will look to move Howard and his $3 million contract. While his $1.25 million signing bonus is guaranteed, the Bills would save just under $2 million by trading him to another team; a reality that could be more likely if they keep showing him off against backups as they did on Saturday against the Broncos. 


Spencer Brown is Still Not Healthy

There were a lot of questions when David Quessenberry started at right tackle over Spencer Brown on Saturday. However, instead of looking at it as a true competition, I think the better approach is simply to realize that Brown is not fully recovered from offseason back surgery. 

The mammoth tackle didn’t start practicing until two weeks ago, so it’s highly unlikely he was ready for a big snap share on Saturday. The Bills would ultimately play him on two drives and while those could have come with the starters, I don’t think the not being with the 1s is anything to read into. Brown should continue to heal, and the team was able to see how effective Quessenberry would be if he’s needed to spell Brown. 

I still expect Brown to be the starter at right tackle once the season starts, provided that his recovery continues to go well. 

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2022 Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17), center, warms-up before a preseason NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)