Philadelphia’s A.J. Brown and Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs largely have been kept under wraps this month.
A bounce-back performance by one of these top receivers could determine what happens on Sunday when the Bills (6-5) visit the Eagles (9-1).
Brown was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month in October after catching 40 passes for 700 yards and five touchdowns in five games. He set an NFL record with six straight games of 125-plus yards from Weeks 3-8.
Through two games in November, Brown has eight receptions for 74 yards and one score — including just one catch for 8 yards in Monday night’s 21-17 win at Kansas City. Brown and quarterback Jalen Hurts had an animated chat on the sidelines after a botched play led to a Chiefs interception in the second quarter.
The ever-unflappable Hurts didn’t sound too concerned about it.
“Turnovers happen, the negative plays happen, sacks happen, giving up big plays defensively happens, but it’s about never getting too high or too low,” Hurts said.
Tight coverage by Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed had a lot to do with Brown’s low totals in the box score, but the Eagles outscored Kansas City 14-0 in the second half to extend their winning streak to four games. The defense recorded two takeaways in the red zone and held Patrick Mahomes to 177 yards and a 71.6 passer rating.
Philadelphia is 4-0 at home and 2-1 against the AFC East this season, with wins against the Patriots and Dolphins and its lone loss coming against the Jets in Week 6.
Buffalo is 1-3 away from home, including a London loss to Jacksonville. The Bills are 2-0 against the NFC East with wins over Washington and the New York Giants.
Diggs topped 100 receiving yards in five of Buffalo’s first six games this season and was targeted at least 10 times in six of the first eight contests. So far in November, the three-time Pro Bowler has only 13 catches for 147 yards and a touchdown.
Diggs followed up a season-low three receptions during a Week 10 loss to Denver with a season-worst 27 yards in a 32-6 win against the New York Jets last week. The Broncos’ Patrick Surtain II and the Jets’ Sauce Gardner had a lot to do with the limited production.
Diggs expects another tough battle in Philadelphia.
“Obviously a great defense. Well coached. Very skillful players, especially in the back end. And obviously their interior on the D-line speaks for itself,” Diggs said Wednesday.
Buffalo didn’t need a big game from Diggs to smother the Jets and snap a two-game losing streak. Josh Allen threw three touchdown passes, James Cook had 102 yards from scrimmage and a score, Tyler Bass booted four field goals and the defense limited New York to 155 total yards and zero conversions on 11 third downs.
The Eagles opened the 21-day practice window Wednesday for receiver Quez Watkins. He was a limited participant during practice this week and is listed as questionable for the game.
The team on Friday ruled out tight ends Dallas Goedert (forearm) and Grant Calcaterra (ankle), safety Justin Evans (knee) and defensive tackled Milton Williams (concussion). Wide receiver DeVonta Smith (knee) was added to the injury report Friday but has no designation and will play on Sunday.
For the Bills, cornerback Dane Jackson (concussion) and safety Taylor Rapp (neck) were ruled out. Cornerback Taron Johnson did not practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday, but he cleared concussion protocol and was a full participant Friday. Safety Micah Hyde (neck/stinger) and defensive back Cam Lewis (shoulder) were limited on Wednesday and Thursday but were full participants Friday. Quarterback Josh Allen (shoulder) was a full participant all week.
The Eagles are 8-6 all-time against the Bills. Philadelphia won the most recent meeting 31-13 on the road on Oct. 27, 2019.