After massive payday, Bills QB Josh Allen fine-tuning mindset during offseason

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Can I apologize in advance for something? I go to all these training camps, and before I arrive, I think of the biggest story of camp. Here, in the land of the table-crashers and the home of the Bills, that story is certainly, Has GM Brandon Beane done enough for the pass-rush to put salve on the team’s only real major negative? In the last two drafts, the Bills have had a total of three picks in the first two round, and each has been used on a pass-rusher—A.J. Epenesa last year (then limited by Covid), Gregory Rousseau and Boogie Basham this year.

FMIA Quiz: Who led the Bills in sacks last year?

I’ll give you a clue: Unless you’re a Bills Mafioso, you’ll never get it. Mario Addison and A.J. Klein tied for the lead, with five. They’re 33 and 30 this year, by the way.

Last year, in two meetings against the kingpins of the AFC, Kansas City, the Bills sacked Patrick Mahomes twice for minus-four yards. He threw five TDs with no picks. He was comfortable, passing for a combined 128.0 rating and winning by 14 and nine points. KC’s the Mount Olympus of the conference, built to last.

The Bills have built a very good team, the best here in a quarter-century, and optimism here is ridiculously high. But . . . there is a but. “We gotta be able to rush the passer better, and we knew that,” coach Sean McDermott said to me here. “Will we? I don’t think we know yet.”

That is the priority in camp. While Rousseau is still getting his feet wet in only his second season as a pass-rusher, I heard good things about Basham (57 tackles behind the line in four Wake Forest seasons) in camp. “His inside-outside versatility’s been impressive,” Beane said. We shall see.

So a few sentences ago I apologized, and here’s the reason. It’d have been good and understandable to write everything here about the pass-rush, and to dissect what I saw from the three kids and from the 33-year-old vet, Jerry Hughes, who the team hopes to get another good season out of. But there’s something else that interested me a bit more, and I apologized because I’ve been over-writing the quarterback. It seems to be a story in almost every camp I’ve attended.

The fans are euphoric, and rightfully so, about Josh Allen. No one’s begrudging him or the Bills for the biggest contract by far in franchise history, a deal that will pay him $2.56 million, on average, for each game the Bills play over the next six seasons. I like the contract, and I like the timing. Quarterback deals do not go in reverse. Great quarterbacks play contract-hopscotch, with Matt Ryan using Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson using Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott using Deshaun Watson, and now Josh Allen using Dak Prescott. (Mahomes’ deal is a bit of an outlier because of its 12-year length, but I digress.)

Allen is the justifiable heir to Jim Kelly as the greatest Buffalo has ever had, a 25-year-old with all the tools to be an all-timer. I would have done exactly what Beane did—lock up a guy who’s truly all about winning, who has shown he can come back late to win some big games (Rams, Pats last year), and who got much better throwing the ball to spots last year, completing 69.2 percent in an offense that relies on smart decisions by a strong-armed quarterback.

There is one thing he’s got to get better doing. He’s got to be better in the biggest spots for the Bills to win Super Bowls.

In the two meetings between Buffalo and Kansas City last year, Mahomes was a 78 percent passer, Allen 56 percent. The Bills were down by three at the half in the regular-season meeting and went punt, punt, TD pass, interception in the second half; KC won 26-17. In the AFC title game, the Bills trailed 21-12 at the half and went field goal, interception, TD pass, field goal in the second half. Good, but 19 points in two second halves against KC is not good enough. Buffalo didn’t lead in the second half of either game.

The day Allen was drafted seventh overall in 2018, New England was the AFC king. But Tom Brady’s gone, and now the king is in Missouri. Now the Bills have to figure a way to beat Kansas City, and Allen has to figure a way to go toe-to-toe with Mahomes. You might say it’s unfair to measure him against Mahomes, solely. But it’s not. Mahomes is the standard in the AFC; he’s won a Super Bowl, an MVP and a Super Bowl MVP. Mahomes is 25. Allen is 25. It’s not all on Allen. But the quarterback has to win in the NFL these days, somehow, some way. And it is fair to judge Allen against the best—because he has a good chance to be the best.

In part, that was a focus of Allen’s this offseason, working with his quarterback tutor, Jordan Palmer, in southern California. Palmer stressed with Allen to play with a quieter mind, and to be calmer. In the past, mistakes were too mentally taxing for Allen, who told me: “Back in the day I tried to play pissed off on the field and I found myself not playing very well, tensed up. Now, whether it be small things like listening to calming music pregame, to not be so hyped and anxious for the game.”

The goal, in particular, is to play a more level game. It’s hard to blame Allen, after being The Man at mid-major Wyoming and coming to Buffalo and having to be the same for the Bills to have a chance, for thinking he had to be Favrian late in games for his team to win. Of course he has to be great, but he also has to make the plays he can make and not stretch beyond. “Just trying not to be a hero,” Allen said. “Trust in the guys on the field with me, trust in the playcalls, and not try to do too much and I think that’s something that I kind of had in my rookie year was trying to play hero-ball and it’s something I’ve been working on. I’ve got an extreme amount of trust in the guys on the field with me, with coach Dabs [offensive coordinator Brian Daboll] and the relationship we have with calling plays and us going out and executing. So I’m in a really good spot mentally with that and I feel like I’m getting better every day with that.”

(Palmer also stressed something else cliché-y with Allen: Finish. Like, finish everything you do. That includes, for instance, not taking the gimmes on the golf course. Your approach shot lands six inches from the pin? Don’t pick it up. Putt it.)

The good thing about Allen’s contract is now the Bills know they’re going to be contenders every season for the foreseeable future. They’ve got a quarterback who can play at the highest level of the sport. Now he’s got to take the next step. He’s got to win the biggest games.

Read more in Peter King’s Football Morning in America

2022 NFL Christmas Schedule: TV Schedule, live stream info, what teams are playing, kickoff times, and more

Here is the full 2022 NFL Christmas Schedule with additional how to watch/live stream info
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Christmas falls on a weekend this year which means the NFL is giving the gift of a full, three-day slate of action. The excitement kicks off on Christmas Eve–Saturday, December 24–with 11 total games taking place including an NFC East showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys on Saturday evening.

On Sunday, December 25, the NFL will have a Christmas Day triple-header for the first time ever. First, at 1:00 PM ET, the Green Bay Packers take on the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Then at 4:30 p.m. ET, it’s the Denver Broncos vs Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. At 8:20 p.m. ET the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will go head-to-head with the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with a special Christmas Day edition of Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock.

See below for the full 2022 NFL Christmas schedule as well as additional information on how to watch/live stream each match-up.

RELATED: FMIA Week 12 – Josh Jacobs Takes Heckling Personally, And A Banner Week For Two-Point Conversion Risks

2022 NFL Christmas Weekend Schedule:

*All times are listed as ET

Saturday, Dec. 24
Atlanta Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m., FOX
Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., FOX
Buffalo Bills vs. Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., CBS
New Orleans Saints vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m., CBS
Seattle Seahawks vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m., FOX
New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., FOX
Cincinnati Bengals vs. New England Patriots, 1 p.m., CBS
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m., CBS
Washington Commanders vs. San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m., CBS
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., FOX
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:15 p.m., NFLN
Sunday, Dec. 25
Green Bay Packers vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., FOX
Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Rams, 4:30 p.m., CBS/Nickelodeon
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals, 8:20 p.m., NBC/Peacock
Monday, Dec. 26
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Indianapolis Colts, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

Which NFL teams are playing on Christmas Day?

  • Green Bay Packers vs Miami Dolphins
  • Denver Broncos vs Los Angeles Rams
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Arizona Cardinals

How to watch Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Arizona Cardinals:

  • Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
  • When: Sunday, December 25
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Arizona Cardinals game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

How to watch Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys: TV, live stream info for Sunday night’s game

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It’s the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys this Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch tonight’s game.

RELATED: FMIA Week 12 – Josh Jacobs Takes Heckling Personally, And A Banner Week For Two-Point Conversion Risks

Indianapolis Colts

Matt Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts fell 24-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night in their 7th loss of the season and 2nd loss under interim head coach Jeff Saturday. Saturday, a former Colts center with no professional or college coaching experience prior to this season, took over after the Colts fired Frank Reich ahead of Week 10. Reich spent 5 seasons with the Colts, reaching the playoffs just twice (2018, 2020) and finishing with a 40-33-1 record in the regular season. Indianapolis’ offensive struggles have continued this season after ranking 10th in scoring last season at 26.5 points per game. Entering Week 13, the Colts are averaging 15.8 points per game–they’re tied with the Texans who are ranked 31st in the league. Ryan went 22-of-34 for 199 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Monday night’s loss. RB Jonathan Taylor rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

RELATED: Jeff Saturday on not using timeouts – “I thought we had plenty of time”

Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys completed the season series sweep with a 28-20 win over the New York Giants last Thursday evening. Prescott finished 21-of-30 for 261 passing yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. RB Ezekiel Elliot, who was playing in his second game since returning from a knee injury, rushed for a season-high 92 yards and ignited the Cowboys’ offense scoring the first touchdown of the game. On defense, the Cowboys had 3 sacks–two of them were from OLB Micah Parsons who ranks 2nd in the league with 12 sacks this season. Dallas currently has one of the best defenses in the NFL and leads all teams with 45 sacks this season. The Cowboys have won 4 of their last 5 games and enter Week 13 just two games behind Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East lead.

RELATED: Dak Prescott – I am as confident as I can be in this team


How to watch the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys:

  • Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
  • When: Sunday, December 4
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys Game

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!