NFL Preseason Picks Bills vs. Lions: DET's Defensive Depth will Decimate BUF's Backups

Matthew Jordan

Monday, August 31, 2015 6:54 PM GMT

The last quarterback competition in the NFL has been decided as Tyrod Taylor will start Week 1 for Buffalo vs. Indianapolis. Just don't expect to see him in Thursday's preseason finale in Detroit.

We Have A Winner ...
Coach Rex Ryan on Monday announced that Taylor, the former backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore,  had beaten out veteran Matt Cassel and 2013 first-round pick E.J. Manuel for the starting job -- I would expect the Bills to release either Cassel or Manuel now. Financially it would make more sense to dump Cassel because of his $4.75 million cap charge. The Bills would get all of that money off the cap by releasing Cassel.

Ryan likes mobile quarterbacks and Taylor brings that option. In this preseason, has completed 24 of 31 passes for 236 yards for a 98.3 passer rating, while also rushing for 108 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. Bills beat writers have noted that the playbook had drastically opened up in practices with Taylor under center compared to Cassel (who is a statue) or Manuel. Taylor, a 2010 sixth-round pick out Virginia Tech, has attempted only 35 career passes in the regular season. His last start in a game that mattered was the Orange Bowl following the 2010 season, a 40-12 loss to Stanford. That Cardinal team was quarterbacked by Andrew Luck, who will also be the opposing quarterback in Week 1 with the Colts. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday. Current fourth-stringer Matt Simms will start and is expected to play the entire game.

Taylor now becomes the Bills' 15th starting quarterback since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired after the 1995 season. That list: Todd Collins, Alex Van Pelt, Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson, Drew Bledsoe, JP Losman, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Brohm, Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel and Kyle Orton. Not exactly a who's-who of NFL quarterbacks.

The Bills also made a surprising move Monday in releasing fan-favorite running back Fred Jackson. At 34, he is the NFL's oldest running back but Jackson was still effective. Last season, Jackson rushed 141 times for 525 yards and two touchdowns while catching 66 passes for 501 yards (both career highs) and a score. Someone will pick him up. Jackson finishes as the franchise's third all-time leading rusher behind Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas (11,938) and O.J. Simpson (10,183) with 5,646 yards and 30 touchdowns. The team should stick with four running backs in starter LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon. McCoy remains out with a hamstring injury but the team is hopeful he can play Week 1.

Buffalo is 2-1 this preseason. It opened with a 25-24 home loss to Carolina, won 11-10 at Cleveland and routed visiting Pittsburgh 43-19 last Saturday. Taylor, Manuel, Cassel and Simms combined to go 30-for-33 for 386 yards and three touchdowns vs. the Steelers. Simms has played well but is rather untrustworthy under center, if he plays extended minutes the Lions at just (-1 1/2) odds is a juicy play

 

Still No Megatron For Lions
Detroit is 2-1 in the preseason as well. It opened with a 23-3 home win over the Jets, lost 21-17 at Washington and won 22-17 in Jacksonville last Friday. Matthew Stafford looked sharp against the Jaguars, going 11-for-15 for 173 yards with two touchdowns. Rookie running back Zach Zenner scored on a 3-yard run with 1:41 left to win it. Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson has yet to play in the preseason and won't Thursday. Stafford is not expected to, either. Neither will running back Joique Bell or defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, although Bell was activated from the physically unable to perform list on Monday and Ngata from the from the non-football injury list.

All NFL teams must get down to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon. The Lions made a moderately surprising release in receiver Ryan Broyles. He set at the time the FBS career record with 349 catches at Oklahoma and was a second-round pick in 2012. But he just couldn't stay healthy. Broyles tore his left ACL in his final season at OU, tore his right ACL during his rookie year with the Lions and tore the Achilles tendon in his left leg in 2013. He was healthy last season but not used much. Detroit also has acquired tight end Tim Wright from Tampa Bay. In return, the Bucs received backup kicker Kyle Brindza. It's the third trade Lions GM Martin Mayhew made in August. He also sent cornerback Mohammed Seisay to Seattle and offensive tackle Michael Williams to New England.

The thing to watch in this game is the Lions' backup quarterback battle between Dan Orlovsky and Kellen Moore. Orlovsky has completed 23 of 38 passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions so  he looks to be in the lead. Moore is 13 of 25 for 104 yards with no touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 46.1. Look for Orlovsky to start Thursday and perhaps Moore to then play the second half.

 

NFL Free Picks: Assuming Simms plays the entire game, Bet the Lions PK & 'UNDER' the total.[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2833669, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,19,43,227,999996,93,238,123,139], "LineTypeId":5, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]