It’s understandable if you’re not up to date on the Buffalo Bills.
They play in the AFC East, where they rarely cross pass with the Cowboys. They’ve also gone through some lean years since those four-straight Super Bowls in the early 90s. Their playoff appearance back in 2017 was their first trip to the postseason since 1999, and this season is the first time they’ve started 8-3 since 1996.
Obviously, as that record would indicate, things have changed in recent years. The Bills have revamped their roster with some intriguing young talent, particularly on defense, and it has spurred the hottest start in Buffalo in quite some time.
Before Thursday’s game, here are three matchups to know ahead of the Bills’ first visit to AT&T Stadium since 2011.
Tre’Davious White: Amari Cooper keeps saying every week is a challenge in the NFL, and he makes a heck of a point. Fresh off a disappointing performance against Stephon Gilmore, Cooper’s going to draw a tough assignment against Tre’Davious White. The former LSU star might be a bit under the radar, but he shouldn’t be. After being drafted in the first round in 2017, White has established himself as one of the best young corners in the game. He’s fantastic at press man coverage, and he excels at shadowing opposing receivers all over the field. Last week, he limited Denver’s Courtland Sutton to one catch for 27 yards. His four interceptions have him tied for second-best in the league, and will likely help him make it to his first career Pro Bowl. Fortunately for Cooper, he’s out of the rainy elements and back indoors at AT&T Stadium. That should go a long way in helping him rebound against another top-notch corner.
Jordan Phillips: If you look at the Cowboys’ stats, Maliek Collins is having a good season this year with 4.5 sacks. That’s quite a bit for an interior tackle. That being said, Buffalo’s Jordan Phillips is on fire for the Bills, leading their team with 7.5 sacks. Usually, 340-pound defensive tackles are supposed to clog the middle and stop the run, but Phillips provides much more than that. Heading into this year – his fifth in the NFL – Phillips only had 5.5 sacks, mostly coming in Miami. But he’s found a spot with the Bills, and it’s usually in the backfield. It’ll be quite a challenge for the interior linemen such as Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and Connor Williams on Thursday.
Cole Beasley: There’s probably not an opposing player all season that the Cowboys are more familiar with than Beasley. He served as their slot receiver from 2012-18, including quarterback Dak Prescott’s first three years as a starter. Beasley has seamlessly fit into a similar role with the Bills: a reliable option on mostly short and intermediate routes, using his quickness to find space underneath. Through 11 games he ranks second on the team with 49 catches for 525 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jourdan Lewis, the Cowboys’ third-year cornerback, went against Beasley for two years in practice. “He can do everything,” Lewis said. “He can beat you deep, he do all the routes, the route tree. … You’ve just got to watch him and hopefully that’s good enough.”