ORCHARD PARK, New York: Lions-Bills Final Thoughts – Jarrad Davis wants opponents to know he's there -- and not remotely considering losing on purpose; keys to the game; Random Thoughts on Zach Zenner, Levine Toilolo, a breakout game for Matthew Stafford and more, and sticking with my pick:
Jarrad Davis wants visitors to the area he patrols at middle linebacker for the Detroit Lions to know that he's right there, ahead of schedule, waiting for them.
On the field, as the action in front of him is slowing down with experience, he's speeding up and heating up.
Last week's win at Arizona was an example of how his game has progressed. David helped lead the assault that limited Cardinals running back David Johnson to 49 yards rushing and 12 yards on eight receptions. He was able to stop plays before they developed.
He was asked what it's like to beat an opposing player to a spot, waiting for him to arrive.
"It's awesome," Davis said. "It's like, 'Hey, you're ahead now.' You come out of the backfield, or you come across the middle, I'm right here. I'll be there before the ball gets there. Be ready.
"That's how I want to play the game. I want to be physical. I want to be a force out there. I just want to be that little thing in the back of a guy's head – 'Hey 40's over here somewhere.
"Keep him off his mark a little. It's fun."
Davis on tanking: There are recurring topics on talk radio that are as predictable as the four seasons in Michigan. Playing to lose, supposedly for the benefit of the franchise, is one of them.
Why bother to play three "meaningless" games, with a 5-8 won-loss record?
"We sign up for a 16-game season," Davis said. "We're 5-8, 13 games. That's three more games. We've got to go out and play those last three games, no matter what comes from it. It doesn't matter.
"I'm not going out there. I'm not practicing. I'm not putting the time in each and every day to go out there and just lose on Sunday. That's not what I'm doing. That's not what I'm here for."
Four keys today:
Nothing cheap: The Bills have trouble scoring points – just 15.5 per game, second fewest in the league – so don't make it easy on them. Don't give them a short field on turnovers, and no big plays from their passing game. Make them work for every inch and every point.
Keep Josh Allen in check: That's obvious. He's Buffalo's only playmaker on offense. The Bills have problems on the offensive line. Keep an eye on Allen to avoid big runs, and get sacks that put the Bills in long yardage.
Start fast: The Lions can't risk another game like last week, when they had a 3-0 lead at halftime and made it 10-3 on Darius Slay's interception return late in the third quarter. Anything can happen in a close game, so don't make it close. With their offense, the Bills aren't set up to make big comebacks. Jump on them early.
"Breakout" game for Matthew Stafford: By the low standards of the decomposing 2018 offense, that means 250 yards passing and two touchdowns. In the last six games he's hit the 250-yard mark once and had one game with two TD passes.
On LeGarrette Blount: He's always good for a sharp comment, and he didn't disappoint when asked by a media member: "Any advice on what to do about my taxes?" Without hesitating, Blount replied: "Pay 'em on time."
On Zach Zenner: I'd like to see him start the game the way he finished last week's, as the lead back. He carried all seven times and scored the clinching touchdown. However, game plans change from week to week, and the Bills' defense is considerably stiffer than Arizona's.
On Levine Toilolo: Toilolo has taken the lead among tight ends the last two weeks in snap counts (102 combined) and production (6 catches, 116 yards). In the interview session with the media last week, tight ends coach Chris White passed along a remark from Stafford about how the 6-foot-8 Toilolo is a big target.
On special teams: Advantage Lions based on performance. Penalties have been cut down in the second half of the season, and the coverage units have been good. They haven't had much of a return game since Jamal Agnew went out with a knee injury in Week 5.
On field position: The Jets' average drive started at their 47-yard line in last week's win at Buffalo. The Bills' average drive started at their own 27. If the Lions can come close to that 20-yard differential it will be a huge advantage in forcing Allen to engineer long drives.
"It's critical," said head coach Matt Patricia. "Obviously, it's only critical if you capitalize. That's the bottom line."
Weather conditions – wind, in particular – add to the importance.
Sticking with my pick: The more I look at the matchups, the more I'm convinced that they favor the Lions. I'm changing my points, though. Originally it was Lions 16, Bills 6.
Prediction update: Lions 23, Bills 9.