If we’re being realistic, the Bills will either have to run the table or go 6-and-1 to get into the post season.
It all starts in prime time as the NFL Network comes to Orchard Park for a Thursday Night game.
If it was 1992, this would be a fierce rivalry, but that was lost long ago. That’s why Ralph Wilson didn’t want to change divisions because he didn’t want to lose the Miami rivalry. It was starting to go then and if he would’ve had a little vision, the rivalries against Pittsburgh and Cleveland would be in full swing.
The season wasn’t supposed to be like this. Buffalo was supposed to be challenging for the division, it was supposed to be vying for a playoff spot.
Reggie Bush was benched in last week’s embarrassing home loss to Tennessee for fumbling. At least both teams have losing to the Titans at home in common. Bush rushed for 172 yards in the second game of the season against Oakland, but has been pretty close to useless since then. The problem I see is he may repeat the 203 yard performance he had last season in Orchard Park. The Bills were slightly improved against the run vs New England, but I have no confidence they’ll stop Bush.
One of the things this year that had Bills fans salivating was playing a bunch of young quarterbacks. Another shows up Thursday in Ryan Tannehill. He’s ranked 29th in the league with a passer rating of 73.2, Ryan Fitzpatrick is 15th at 87.5. He has five touchdowns and nine interceptions, but can a team that should have one of the best pass rushes in the NFL, but can’t get any pressure put heat on the rookie?
It seems so simple to say, but Chan Gailey is right about one thing, he has a team full or players that can’t finish. They get flustered and tight when a play absolutely has to be made, even when plays had been being made all game. Thursday could be a close game in the fourth quarter. When they played in Cleveland, they were able to close it out, but it has to more than once per season.
With Fred Jackson out with a concussion I know you’re out there thinking that C.J. Spiller will get his 25-30 touches. You likely will be wrong. Last season when Jackson was out, Tashard Choice got plenty of playing time and it just makes no sense. Maybe that’s why Dick Jauron’s record in Buffalo is quite a bit better than Chan Gailey’s. I never would’ve chosen Gailey to coach my team, but I never would’ve dreamed that his record would be so much worse than Jauron’s.
The Bills only have 11 takeaways, worst in the NFL. It’s no accident that the last game they won was the last game they produced a turnover. Buffalo has to make that rookie quarterback give them the ball. I think it’ll be harder to get one from Bush who will be motivated the hold on to the football after his benching.
Buffalo fans love these nationally televised night games. With that in mind, I know the crowd will be up and going to start the game. The Bills could use some early momentum from that. If they start with their mistake filled, up and down football, any spark they could get from that is gone.
The next thing is dictate. I’m going to say this almost every week because the Bills are always the team reacting. Make Miami react to them. Give Tannehill pre snap looks that will confuse him.
On offense, expect men coming after Ryan Fitzpatrick from everywhere. They are not afraid to blitz and every single player gets his chance. The other thing is design a game plan to your play makers. When things are tight and plays have to be made, make sure you’re not going to T.J. Graham and Tashard Choice.
So in the end could there still be playoffs for the Buffalo Bills? At least we know it’s been done, but it’s been 16 years since a 3-6 team has come back and made the playoffs. Chan Gailey has this ridiculous notion that when it’s week 12, that’s when you examine where you are. He better be examining it now because a loss to Miami, and it’s 100% season over.