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Week 15 opponent: What the Bills are saying

Every week during the regular season we get an opportunity to talk with the opposing head coach via conference call. This week it was Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott. I also scanned the Buffalo area media websites and the Bills website, to see what else the Bills players and coaches are saying about this week’s matchup with the Lions.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. McDermott has a defensive background and was asked about Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis. McDermott described Davis as active and playing with a downhill style. He emphasized the negative plays Davis has been able to generate this season.

2. Speaking of Detroit’s defense as a whole, McDermott liked how active Detroit’s front and linebackers are, but he really highlighted the play of cornerback Darius Slay.

“I have a lot of respect for a couple guys in their secondary,” he said. “One of which is Slay. He’s a guy I really liked coming out in the draft and he’s backed that up just with the way he’s played through the course of his career so far.”

Slay is the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in Arizona last Sunday.

3. Bills offensive coordinator Brain Daboll said the plan coming into the year was certainly not to have quarterback Josh Allen lead the team in rushing (490 yards) at this point in the season. Buffalo’s running backs have been beat up and ineffective at times. But Daboll also said he won’t discourage Allen from continuing to run when he sees the opportunity, as long as he protects himself and the football. Allen is an impressive athlete, and the Lions are very aware of his ability to make plays with his legs.

4. Bills running backs LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Chris Ivory (shoulder) are banged up heading into Sunday’s matchup. Asked about their availability for Sunday’s game, McDermott had a little fun with the situation.

“Can you play at all?” he asked the Detroit reporter who asked the question.

McDermott seemed to think Ivory would be available if McCoy isn’t.

5. Buffalo ranks No. 1 in the NFL in overall defense (290.6) and are also No. 1 against the pass (185.8) and No. 9 against the run (104.8), but they rank 20th in points allowed (24.6) and 27th in red zone efficiency (71.4 percent).

“Yeah, we haven’t done as well in 2018 in the red zone,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “We’ve been struggling. We’ve got to go back, take a look at it real hard. We have to find a way to get better.”

The Lions' offense ranks 27th in red zone scoring (48.8 percent), so something has to give Sunday in Buffalo in that regard.

6. After making the playoffs last season, the Bills have just four wins on the year and won’t be making a return trip to the postseason. They knew the challenges of drafting a rookie quarterback and playing him, but McDermott said the goal isn’t just making the playoffs. He believes Buffalo is aligned for a better future with Allen at the helm.

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