It’s the same garbage every year. This year, however, is different. Two weeks into 2011, the Bills are undefeated … and people are talking about them.
Yes, that is correct. I watched three shows in 90 minutes on NFL Network that featured the Bills. That’s a rate of one shout-out to the Bills every half-hour, not counting the “teasers” during commercials saying optimistic stuff like, “Next up … how the Bills can be the first team to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots.”
I’m enjoying it right now.
First off, I bid farewell to the avid readers of my blog who denounce football. Football is exactly what this post is about. Don’t like it? I am sorry. Check back tomorrow morning. I have something about my wisdom teeth scheduled to post Friday.
There is a more than slightly strong possibility the Bills will get crushed by the Patriots when they face the 2-0 squad Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. There is an extremely strong possibility the Bills will at least lose to the Patriots. But there is a possibility the Bills will beat the Patriots – and that glimmer of hope is what I cling to.
Fans of other teams may call me a pessimist. Bandwagon jumpers – if there are any – will call me an idiot who’s sure to be fooled. Bills fans, however, will call me a realist.
The last of those three flavors of fans know the Bills aren’t that good right now. I contend true Bills fans know the NFL the best, as true Bills fans have watched second halves of other teams’ games for years now (true Bills fans start each Sunday hoping for a win, but come to grips with cold, crushing reality by halftime) and recognize this team as inferior to the elite squads.
I mean, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has three types of passes: short, short-medium and pray-it-doesn’t-get-intercepted-by-an-injured-DB deep. Fred Jackson’s only leading the NFL in rushing right now because defenses don’t know who he is, and that defense still collectively blushes every time someone says it’s mediocre.
But to come right out and say the Bills will lose Sunday based on traditional analysis would be wildly predictable and somewhat boring. True Bills fans, you see, will always have hope. Hope is why they continue to follow a club that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1999 or had a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl since 1993.
Hope is why, despite all odds, true Bills fans are saying they won’t be shocked if the Bills beat the sons of Jesus – the New England Patriots. They’re not saying they’re calling it, but they won’t be surprised if it happens.
Regardless, what a ride it’s been. No team has scored more points the first two weeks of the season than the Buffalo Bills. No running back is better, statistically, than Bills former-arena-league-guy Fred Jackson. And Fitzpatrick? He leads the league in touchdown passes. It’s good to be noticed, as various networks have done.
ALL of that said, here are a few predictions for Sunday’s game:
– Look for C.J. Spiller. Despite the extra press the Bills got this week, no one talked about Spiller’s role in Sunday’s 38-35 win over Oakland. He was a decoy on the winning touchdown pass – and it only worked because of how well he ran the ball in the second half. Spiller could fill the slot receiver role vacated by Roscoe Parrish, who went down Sunday for the rest of the season. Or, Spiller could take over for Jackson, who’s likely generated enough respect from the Patriots’ defense to get injured.
– It will likely be a barnburner. The Bills went back and forth with the Patriots en route to a 38-30 loss at this time last year. One striking difference to note, though, is 2010’s week three contest in New England marked Fitzpatrick’s first start of the season. He had a 92.4 quarterback rating, throwing for two touchdown passes and 247 yards. This year? He’s been the starter the entire time. Just saying …
– Shawne Merriman is due. Seriously. This is a Hollywood-type guy the Bills aren’t used to. The city of Buffalo gave Terrell Owens a key to the city before he played a game, for God’s sake. I have no statistics to base this on, but I’m calling for Merriman to live up to the hype generated by the “Lights Out” dance. He has sucked to this point and claims he’s got no injury problems. Splendid. I want to see his dance once the game has started and not during warm-ups. It looks stupid during warm-ups.
– At the end of the day, Buffalo relies too much on other teams making mistakes win against a team that doesn’t. New England will not render the automatic-first-down penalties Oakland did, nor will have a Kansas City’ number of turnovers.
Prediction: Patriots 34, Bills 28