Sunday should be a blood bath.
It is unlikely the 2-2 Buffalo Bills will retain a shred of dignity after facing the 3-1 San Francisco 49ers, a team many folks believe to be the best in the league.
After all, the Bills just allowed two New England Patriot no-namers to come into their house in a pivotal game and put up more than 100 yards apiece on the ground. What’s it going to be like when this squad of wounded ducks visits San Francisco, which is averaging 167 yards on the ground per game and just dismantled the New York Jets’ previously-respected run defense?
There’s no need to compare passing games. The Bills did not lose to the Patriots because they could not pass. They did not lose because of anything their offense did or didn’t do. They lost because the only times they ever stopped the Patriots’ rushing attack were when New England didn’t rush.
San Fran will do a lot of running, folks. And there’s no reason to believe Buffalo’s going to do anything to stop ’em.
On paper, no team in the NFL has a better defensive line than the Bills. They have Mario Williams. Mark Anderson, Williams’ counterpart at the other defensive end position, is the weakest link – and he reached double digits in sacks last year. Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus are tanks in the middle. If these guys can come together, no one can run the ball … not even San Francisco running back Frank Gore.
But they haven’t come together.
Williams has one entire sack this year. That came against a rookie tackle for the Cleveland Browns, who actually kept Williams at bay most of Week 3. Established offensive tackles – even tight ends – have kept Williams to himself all season long.
The rest of the defensive front hasn’t done much better. Granted, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick looked awful in the first half of Week 1 against the New York Jets, throwing three interceptions and contributing little more emotionally than the gumption of a scared kitten, but there was no pass rush on third down to break Jets QB Mark Sanchez’s rhythm. I think they started the game 10-for-10 on third down, which is a major reason why the Bills lost that game.
I AM A BILLS FAN. I believe a football-related phenomenon could happen at any time on the field. I didn’t think the Bills were out of Sunday’s 52-28 loss to the Patriots until there was less than five minutes left in the game. So you’ll have to excuse my “yeah, but … ” attitude here.
The Bills were demoralized against New England Sunday. They were humiliated. That defensive line – the one that got all the press this offseason – seemed fried by the microscope it’s been under.
They have got to be pissed off.
I believe – no, I BILL-ieve – we’re going to see something from them this week. Hell, I think we’ll see the entire defense step it up, including the no-name linebackers who’ve also played like no-namers this season. They might not even be needed all that much.
MY FEELINGS ON THE OFFENSE go no further than these guys: C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Remember them? They were seldom used Sunday to protect their tender injuries (they probably shouldn’t have been playing), yet they were effective. Had the defense kept the Bills closer and not forced Fitzpatrick to look for big plays through the air, folks would have seen them be even more effective.
Assuming two offensive linemen being out doesn’t hurt too much, either Spiller or Jackson – or both – could take control of the game.
I guess I’ll say one thing about the passing game Sunday: the Bills will win that. Fitzpatrick and 49ers QB Alex Smith play similar roles for their team in “managing” the game. However, while Smith’s got the better deep ball, Fitzpatrick has the better mind for the role. In fact, don’t look now, but Fitzpatrick is leading the league in touchdown passes. He never throws interceptions unless he’s “trying” something (you know – the way Brett Favre used to).
So, if the Bills’ defensive line lives up to the hype, Buffalo will win. If they play like they did against New England Sunday, they’ll allow 52 points and lose the game.
I think you know what I BILL-ieve.