Originally written on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 11/14/12
If you read Grantland, you would have come across an interesting piece on the Bills that was equal parts inspiring, depressing and gut wrenching. Among the many topics that the story covers is how Buffalo’s youth is moving away from their affiliation with the Bills and rooting for other NFL teams. That will happen with 12 years of no playoffs and beyond mediocre teams. It is an awful pill to swallow when you really think about it. Our team, the franchise that so many Buffalonians have invested so much into has been so bad that the next generation of fans have found other teams to hold their interest. Maybe one day the Bills will turn the corner and start luring fans back to their sideline. It probably won’t be this year though. Buffalo’s defense has failed to stop the run for most of the year. Because of the defense’s inability to solve any offense, the run of years without the playoffs likely won’t be stopped either. Despite the preseason hype as a darkhorse playoff team, the Bills sit at 3-6 and have quite the uphill climb if they even want to be part of the “In The Hunt” graphic. The Bills will need a ton of help just to be in the hunt, let alone in the playoffs. If the Bills were to make the playoffs, they will need to win out and finish 10-6. A quick survey of the AFC shows three teams that have all but run away with their divisions – the Patriots, Texans and Broncos. The North could produce a wild card team along with the eventual division winner due to the close race with the Ravens and Steelers. The Colts have the inside track on the other wild card berth as they are the only other AFC team above .500. Buffalo’s playoff chances really rest with the other teams in the AFC. Ben Roethlisberger’s injury could condemn the Steelers, especially if he isn’t in for either game against the Ravens. If he was healthy, it would be safe to assume a likely split with the Ravens, if not a sweep. At the very least, the Steelers would finish 11-5 if their QB was healthy. Depending on how much they struggle with Byron Leftwich at the helm, 9-7 or worse could be a distinct possibility. As for the Colts, they still have two games against Houston along with this week’s game in New England. Those three games are balanced by dates against the Bills, Lions, Chiefs and Titans. On paper, that is probably four wins and three losses, which takes them to 10-6 and a wild card berth. Buffalo’s game against the Colts will be one of their absolute must-win games down the stretch. Again, the Bills really need to win out, but they could potentially survive one loss down the stretch depending who it comes against. Should the Bills beat the Colts, it would likely put Indy on track for 9-7. In addition, earning a sweep against the Dolphins would not only eliminate Miami, but give the Bills two more vital wins. The crux of this incredibly unrealistic scenario comes in the middle. Games against Jacksonville and St. Louis are not only must wins but matchups against very beatable teams. The Bills share a common thread with many of the teams sniffing at a playoff spot in that their remaining schedule is primarily comprised of AFC teams who are also in the playoff hunt. The Chargers, Bengals, Raiders, Bills and Dolphins each have two NFC opponents on their schedule and a host of common opponents. While these common opponents will work against the Bills (as will their defense), Buffalo can take solace in the fact that the Patriots, Steelers, Texans and Ravens all appear on these schedules. Buffalo doesn’t see any of those perennial juggernauts. In addition, the Bills have a relatively friendly schedule remaining compared to teams like the Dolphins or Steelers. The following table simply represents how each of the playoff contending teams could finish considering each matchup “on paper”. The only accommodation made was my assumption of Big Ben’s absence:   Indianapolis (9-7)   @ NE - Loss   vs. BUF - Win   @ DET - Win   vs. TEN - Win   @ HOU - Loss   @ KC - Win   vs. HOU - Loss     Tennessee  (6-10)   BYE   @ JAX - Win   vs. HOU - Loss   @ IND - Loss   vs. NYJ - Loss   @ GB - Loss   vs. JAX - Win     Pittsburgh (9-7)   vs. BAL - Loss   @ CLE - Win   @ BAL - Loss   vs. SD - Loss   @ DAL - Loss   vs. CIN - Win   vs. CLE - Win     Cincy (7-9)   @ KC - Win   vs. OAK - Loss    @ SD - Loss   vs. DAL - Win   @ PHI - Win   @ PIT - Loss   vs. BAL - Loss     Miami (6-10)   @ BUF - Loss   vs. SEA - Loss   vs. NE - Loss   @ SF - Loss   vs. JAX - Win   vs. BUF - Win   @ NE - Loss     Buffalo (7-9)   vs. MIA - Win   @ IND - Loss   vs. JAX - Win   vs. STL - Win   vs. SEA - Loss   @ MIA - Loss   vs. NYJ - Win     San Diego (9-7)   @ DEN - Loss   vs. BAL - Loss   vs. CIN - Win   @ PIT - Win   vs. CAR - Win   @ NYJ -Win   vs. OAK - Win     Oakland (8-8)   vs. NO - Loss   @ CIN - Win   vs. CLE - Win   vs. DEN - Loss   vs. KC - Win   @ CAR - Win   @ SD - Win        Based on a pretty basic assumption, the Bills will make an epic journey to 7-9 and draft right in the middle of the first round. While the Bills aren’t out of the picture, they can do no worse than 5-1 down the stretch for any prayer at a playoff spot. Even then, they would need plenty of help from the teams above them. Hot read: Only three teams have made the playoffs after starting 3-6. They are the 1994 New England Patriots, the 1995 Detroit Lions and the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars. John Wayne Time Just about anyone who has followed the Bills this year have clamored for more touches for CJ Spiller. Everyone will now get their wish. Just as Spiller did in the second half against the Jets and in weeks two and three, he will be the primary ball carrier for the Bills against Miami. Fred Jackson’s injury has put Spiller back atop the depth chart and should give him the lion’s share of the carries. Spiller can certainly handle the workload, as he showed earlier in the year, and now Chan Gailey really won’t have an excuse as to why other players were given touches over his dynamic back. Hot Read: Look for the screen game with Spiller as a ploy to combat Miami’s strong front seven. Spiller has averaged over 10 yards per catch five times this season. Rattle the Rookie Ryan Tannehill has been very good or very bad this season. His best football made many skeptics believers in the first round pick. However, he has been prone to interception binges this year as well. If the Bills can get to Tannehill, they should do a lot to disrupt the Dolphins offensive rhythm. Rookie Jonathon Martin was a highly touted prospect in this draft and will see plenty of Mario Williams. Super Mario has had his best games against rookies this year and Thursday would be a great night for him to flex his muscle against a greenhorn again. Hot Read: Tannehill’s TD/INT ratio is 2:9 in Miami’s five losses this season. He has also attempted at least 35 passes in all five losses this season. He doesn’t have any more that 30 attempts in any victory and his TD/INT ratio is 3:0 in those games. About Reggie    I’m not quite sure what all the fuss was about regarding Reggie Bush’s comments this week. Nothing like an off-handed remark on a talk radio station to get Buffalo all fired up. At least when the ridiculous rally cry went up after Tom Brady and Joffery Lupul opened their mouths, the comments were more direct at the city. Bush’s comment was no different than one made between friends at a bar. It is great that Buffalo has the solidarity to stand together and defend our region against those who wish to insult us. But until something is down to show actual change, these comments will continue. That isn’t to say that we need to change our women. But maybe the Bills need to start showing they’re actually a winner and the city needs to stop thinking “lighter, quicker, cheaper” and start showing the world that there are actually things to do in our fine town. Maybe then Mr. Bush would realize that Buffalo has even more to offer than a handful of USC boosters.
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