Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 6/27/12
The Buffalo Bills started the 2011 NFL season with a powerful record of five wins and two losses, just to follow up with a dismal 6-10 record.

The Bills looked great coming out of the gates, and they had fans and critics raving about their play.

They beat division rival New England Week 3 and seemed like the real deal. They went into their Week 7 bye with a 4-2 record and then won their next game after the bye.

Week 9 was a game changer, as a matter of fact it was a season changer and the Buffalo Bills went down hill from there.

The Bills were playing division rival New York in Week 9 and they could have made the biggest statement of the season. The final score of the game was 27-11 in favor of the Jets. Not only had they lost the game but they had consistently lost the rest of the season. Buffalo won just one more game for the rest of the season. What was the reason for this collapse? What was the reason for the great 5-2 start?

Let's take an in depth look at what happened.

This was a mediocre team at best, statistic-wise in 2011. They finished 13th in rushing yards per game, 14th in points per game, 15th in turnover ratio, and 16th in receiving yards per game on the offensive side of the ball. The Buffalo Bills allowed just 23 sacks which was best in the league.

Then on the defensive side they let up the third most points per game, and gave up the seventh most yards per game. Where was this Buffalo team that I see potential in for the 2012 season? Oh, yeah, they were on the injured list. Or in fact, not even on the team yet.

Buffalo took a huge hit injury-wise, and that may be the difference in the 2011 season compared to the 2012 season. Everybody plays through injuries during a grueling NFL season but there were several players on this Bills team that played through the pain not missing any games. These players included starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and rookie defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (Buffalo Bills first-round pick, third overall out of Alabama).

Then there were the many players that were either put on injured reserve or just flat out hurt. On the defensive side of the ball, defensive end Shawne Merriman played only until Week 6, defensive end Kyle Williams until Week 9, and cornerback Terrence McGee played up until Week 11.

On the offensive end second-string wide receiver Donald Jones, star center Eric Wood, and running back Fred Jackson who was having a very underrated season were all out within a three-week period from Week 9-11. Starting kicker Rian Lindell could not even finish out the season after injuring his shoulder against the New York Jets Week 9.

Merriman was quoted when talking about the upcoming 2012 seasons as saying "I feel very comfortable right now." That's a good sign considering his injury plagued career. I wouldn't say a Pro Bowl season in sights but Merriman can play some good football especially when putting him together with a healthy Kyle Williams, and a healthy Marcell Dareus all on the defensive line.

Oh, and I forgot to mention on that line will also be former No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams. The Bills agreed to a six-year deal with Williams in March. He has not lived up to the hype for a No. 1 overall pick especially due to injury but he certainly has the potential. I believe when you put him in the mix with a healthy Buffalo Bills defense, a healthy Buffalo Bills team in fact, that you are looking at a potential playoff team for the 2012 NFL season.

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