Happy Holidays, everybody. It's December 24 and some are still finishing off their Christmas shopping. I'll be doing the same once I'm done writing.
We didn't get a playoff appearance from the Bills this year but they gave us an interesting, curious season. Just one game left and thank goodness it's at the Patriots because we were having fun lately.
Of course there's no guarantee the Bills will lose, despite not having won in New England since Doug Flutie was here. Last year there they all but had it won before a late end zone interception. This year here they lost on the last play. It could happen.
And we want it to happen, right? They're not drafting high enough anyway for me to obsess about that.
I want a Bills win because I think it will infuse the fan base with some real optimism for next year. I want it because I love it when New England loses, to anybody. I want it because winning is better than losing.
But there's one thing about a Bills win that scares me, or even an exciting loss: a great performance from Thad Lewis.
Most Bills fans had modest expectations for this year's team, expectations that largely were close to met. The Las Vegas over/under on Bills wins this year was 6.5, and with one game left the outcome is in doubt. It sounds like faint praise, sure, but the '13 Bills are not a worse team than was expected.
Much of this season has been about evaluating EJ Manuel. In my opinion he has not impressed. He's young, he's had some highlights, and he has some likable qualities. Are you happy I said that? If you asked me if I think Manuel will become a very good NFL quarterback, I would say no. On Manuel I range from skeptical to pessimistic.
Here's what I don't need: Manuel missing another game here and Lewis playing well enough to make who the better player between them is our primary off-season conversation. Lewis has played at Manuel's level already, which is interesting in and of itself.
Imagine Lewis playing great and beating the Patriots. Don't laugh. Miami has beaten New England and Cleveland should have. It's possible. Then what? Are we really going to pump up Manuel after the journeyman Lewis garners the Bills their first Gillette Stadium win?
The one thing this season was NOT supposed to bring about is the possibility of an undrafted quarterback being the Bills' future. At all. We graduated from that sort of thing (finally) with the release of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Are we possibly facing this happening again? Whether we are or not, a Bills win Sunday with Lewis will have some fans want us to be.
One argument I always made against Fitzpatrick is that his career path showed us he was unlikely to be great. Fitzpatrick went Rams-Bengals-Bills, three franchises that -- to put it nicely -- have not been stellar historically in evaluating quarterbacks. Low pick, released, traded, those teams, Harvard ... this does not add up to greatness.
Lewis is the same player in this respect. Undrafted out of Duke, Browns-Lions-Bills, to greatness? Come on.
I don't know what the Bills would do about Lewis if he wins this game. At this point, we don't even know if he'll play in it.
I do know this: If Lewis plays it and wins it, duck.