Cook, Bills aim to continue late-season surge in visiting reeling Chargers


Saturday, 8 p.m. EST, Peacock

BETTING LINE: Bills by 12 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bills 6-8; Chargers 5-9.

SERIES RECORD: Chargers lead 24-11-2.

LAST MEETING: Bills beat Chargers 27-17 on Nov. 29, 2020, in Orchard Park, New York.

LAST WEEK: Bills beat Cowboys 31-10; Chargers lost to Raiders 63-21.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Bills plus-3; Chargers minus-2.

BILLS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB James Cook. The second-year running back has provided what’s been a pass-happy Josh Allen-led attack with a physical ground dimension that’s going to keep opposing defenses guessing. Cook, who is also being used as a receiver, has gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his past five outings, including 221 (179 rushing, 42 receiving) and two scores in Buffalo’s win over Dallas.

CHARGERS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Austin Ekeler was a non-factor against the Raiders, rushing for 9 yards on five carries and catching four passes for 29 yards. Averaging 2.8 yards per carry over his past four games, Ekeler needs some positive momentum headed into free agency.

KEY MATCHUP: Chargers QB Easton Stick vs. the Bills defense. Stick threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, but the majority of that production came after the game has been long since decided. Now he will have to deal with a confident Buffalo group which smothered Dallas, allowing 3.4 yards per play. The Bills cruised while only forcing one turnover, so the Chargers could be in trouble if Stick cannot protect the ball better. He lost two fumbles and threw a pick-6 in the rout in Las Vegas.

KEY INJURIES: Bills DT Jordan Phillips won’t play after being placed on IR because of a wrist injury sustained on Sunday. … S Micah Hyde will miss his second straight game with a neck injury. … DE A.J. Epenesa is listed as questionable after missing one game with a rib injury. … Cook carries no injury designation after missing practice Wednesday because of an illness. … Chargers WR Keenan Allen will miss his second straight game because of a heel injury. … DB Deane Leonard continues to deal with a heel injury and is also out another week.

SERIES NOTES: Buffalo’s win during the 2020 pandemic-altered season snapped a four-game losing streak to Los Angeles. … Whether in San Diego or Los Angles, the Chargers have had the better of the Bills at home in recent years by winning six straight.

STATS AND STUFF: The Bills are making their sixth prime-time appearance of the season, in which they have a 2-3 record, starting with a season-opening 22-16 overtime loss at the New York Jets. Buffalo has lost its past two night games, to Cincinnati and Denver, with wins against the New York Giants and Tampa Bay. … The Bills are 13-8 in prime-time outings in seven seasons under coach Sean McDermott. … Buffalo’s six losses this season have been decided by a combined margin of 26 points. The Bills’ past 11 losses have been decided by six points or fewer since a 41-15 loss to Indianapolis on Nov. 21, 2021. … Allen leads the NFL with 37 touchdowns (26 passing, 11 rushing), and has scored a TD rushing in three consecutive games and seven of his past eight. He’s also thrown a TD pass in 22 straight outings, the NFL’s longest active streak. … Allen had his third turnover-free outing of the season last week, and first in 10 games. The quarterback has a record of 25-4 when not committing a turnover, and is 35-26 in games he throws an interception or loses a fumble. … Cook’s 1,401 yards from scrimmage are the most by a Bills player since LeSean McCoy finished the 2017 season with 1,586. Cook is also 32 yards rushing shy of becoming Buffalo’s first player to reach 1,000 since McCoy had 1,138 in ’17. … Leonard Floyd had a sack last week to up his team-leading total to 10 1/2, matching a single-season career-high set in 2020 with the Los Angeles Rams. … Buffalo’s defense limited the Cowboys to a season-low 195 yards, and forced five punts. The Bills have forced five or more punts in an outing six times this season. … It will be strength against strength as Buffalo has allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL (19) trying to fend off a Los Angeles pass rush that ranks sixth in QB takedowns (44). … OLB Khalil Mack has 15 sacks on the season, but has been unable to add to his total in the past two games. … The Chargers have not scored a touchdown in the first half in their past four games. They have not scored a point in the first two quarters of their past two games. … Bright spots have been few and far between for Los Angeles over the past two seasons, but PK Cameron Dicker qualifies. He has made 38 of 40 field goals (95%) and all 56 of his extra points since joining the team. … The Chargers are 2-5 at home, having lost their past three games at SoFi Stadium.

FANTASY TIP: It will require a massive leap of faith to rely on any Charger for fantasy purposes this week. There should be better effort on the field following the firing of coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco, but it seems unlikely to lead to big statistical output from the skill positions.



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