In Week 4, the Buffalo Bills will find themselves heading to the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders. The last meeting between these two teams back in 2017, featured a back and forth game until the biggest turning point of the game was a pick six led by Bills’ linebacker Matt Milano that carried momentum for Buffalo to a dominating 34-14 victory.
Say what you want about the Raiders, but they are a team that always plays hard and does not allow easy plays to happen. While there are more questions than answers surrounding the Raiders, one thing that is set in stone is that they have an exceptional player at the tight end position in Darren Waller.
When both teams hit the field, there will be different matchups to keep an eye on but there is a key match to set your eyes on, Matt Milano vs Darren Waller.
This is a big matchup to watch because of the scheme that the Bills run on defense and the emergence of Waller based on 2019. Buffalo runs more of zone coverage, but will play man to man when necessary. You will see how the secondary drops back into a zone coverage, but there will be times when the Bills’ linebackers end up playing either zone or man coverage.
Milano is the guy that is assigned to a tight end and he has done well up to this point in his career as a pass defender. He even did well against Rob Gronkowski when Buffalo used to play New England.
With the addition of rookie receiver Henry Ruggs and if Tyrell Williams can stay healthier, Waller may not be the main guy, but do not discredit his ability to produce throughout the whole game.
What Milano Brings
Being apart of the first step of the process that is being built in Buffalo, Milano has shined onto the scene in western New York with his versatility and toughness. His sideline to sideline quickness has helped develop into a run-stopping contain type of play. Although, his strongest factor is his ability to keep a tight end out of the play in coverage.
He certainly is not a big linebacker, but he plays with no fear. The strongest suit on the Bills defense is focused on Tre’Davious White which goes without saying, but Milano plays a key role in the defense by locking down the biggest receiver on the field.
What Waller Brings
Playing in all 16 games for the Raiders, Waller showed the NFL what he is capable of and I believe it is safe to say that he had a big breakout year compared to his first three years. He went on to finish 2019 with 90 catches for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. Even though the touchdown numbers are not impressive, you have to watch how he plays and observe how he plays each down.
He fights for extra yardage on each catch, averaging just under 13 yards per reception. Let’s not forget that he can also lineup to the outside rather stay in the middle of the field, which could cause a mismatch against either White or Josh Norman/Levi Wallace.
This is a matchup that may not have the biggest names, but there is a whole lot of production on both sides. Even though the Raiders have a star-on-the-rise running back in Josh Jacobs, they can still air the ball even if it is only to pick up enough for a first down. Waller may not be the go-to guy in 2020, but because the Raiders now know what he can do, the playbook may even open up more for Waller in his favor.
Milano will have a tough task with a breakout player who is expected to produce at a similar rate from last season. While this does not look like an intimidating matchup for Milano, it still presents a challenge for him.