We were all sold on a bright vision. From the offices to the sidelines to the locker rooms, everything looked new and exciting for the Buffalo Bills. Whether we liked it or not, many of us were sold long before we actually got to see the finished product. But we could never shake the fear of impending disaster lurking just around the bend. (see: Kevin Kolb slips on a practice mat, then ends his career on a preseason slide.)
Now, after two fumbles and an overtime loss, it seems like this vision is doomed like all the others. Maybe we should just destroy it all before it can get any worse. Because can we really handle another round of “Wait ‘Til Next Year!”?
Unfortunately, we’re not off the ride yet. Who we truly want destroyed is a decision for down the road. We’re still in it now and you’ve gotta decide whether you want to drive further into the jungle or hide in the bathroom until it’s all over. I think you should dare to go deeper.
And if they do tank, well, then you get to say “I told you so” and rub it in my face. Won’t that be fun.
1) C.J. & Freddy
You know 'em. You love 'em. Even if the rest of the team is a tire fire, you can't stop rooting for 'em.
By their powers combined, Fred Jackson & C.J. Spiller are the 4th best rushing attack in the league. Obviously #22 carried the bulk of the workload for most of this year, but last week showed us a glimmer of hope that maybe C.J. was even more hampered by injury than we thought earlier this year. The Buccaneers rank 16th against the run, so they're mediocre at best. I'll save all the cliches. If they don't combine for 200 yards this week, we're screwed.
2) Sacks, Sacks, and More Sacks
The Buffalo Bills lead the league in sacks. SAME OLD BILLS, RIGHT GUYS!?
Seriously, folks, your Buffalo Bills are many things, but they’re the best at getting to the quarterback right now. What else can you really say about them anymore? Mario Williams is earning every cent of his contract. Marcell Dareus is having a breakout year. Pettine's blitzes routinely cause offenses problems. They could finish with the most sacks in team history! Of course, if they don’t get there, they’ve got Jairus Byrd and a bundle of trash behind them.
The defense clearly has issues, but the more time Glennon spends on his back, the better. The Bucs gave up 5 sacks a week ago, so there's reason to believe the Bills will get at least 2 or 3 with plenty more hits and "pressures" to go along with it. If they lead to turnovers, that could be the "x-factor" that puts the Bills over the top.
3) Rookie Improvement
The thing to watch most closely this weekend will be how the rookies respond to the Toronto loss. Even without a shot at the playoffs, Manuel, Woods, Goodwin, and Alonso still have plenty to prove before we can official give them the savior stamp. Obviously the majority of the attention will go to E.J., but as last weekend proved, putting the ball in the right place doesn't mean much of the receiver can't do something with it. Meanwhile, the vacuum of leadership on defense is screaming for Kiko to fill it. It's not something he can fill overnight, but a spearheading a strong performance on the road would go a long way to making it happen.
THREE THINGS TO BE ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED ABOUT:
1) Failure, 2) Failure, and 3) Failure
Really the only thing that could sting worse than losing a nail-biter to Atlanta in Toronto is to lose a worse game to Tampa Bay in Florida. Two straight losses to teams with even fewer wins than us would pretty much show just how low interest can go.
From a distance, it’s hard to find three specifics things to worry about when it comes to the Bucs. They spent most of the season being abjectly terrible, suffering everything from the routine QB grumblings (remember when we wanted to trade for Josh Freeman?) to a bizarre outbreak of staph infections. When a doctor has to be brought in to make sure your facilities aren’t a breeding ground for disease, that’s some next level losing.
But in the last four weeks, they’re 3-1 with their only loss coming to the seemingly unstoppable Carolina Panthers. And clearly "The Dread" that had been absent from most of our games this season is back in full force. So when you start to feel that pit in your stomach grow when the Bills take a 14-point lead and you know it's not gonna last, here's what you do. Fill it with food and booze as fast as humanly possible.
No Speak No Slave by The Black Crowes
Lord knows it’s gonna take a pretty great playlist to get you fired up for the game this week, so I don’t take this decision lightly.
The Black Crowes are a band it took me a long time to get into. But once I delved in, I was hooked. If you ever want to give them a try, but don’t know where to start, track down “Freak and Roll...Into The Fog.” For anyone who remotely enjoys blues rock, it’s an amazing live album.
This particular song is just great, plain and simple. Pedal to the floor, set it to 11, rock ‘n’ roll.
Bodysnatchers by Radiohead
I love Radiohead. No band will ever dethrone them as my favorite group to have ever walked the Earth. After Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail To The Thief, critics & fans started to wonder if they could still write a simple rock song anymore.
Enter In Rainbows. Radiohead opened the album, as they’re wont to do, with a strange song loaded with experimentation. But then Track 2 hits and, yeah, these guys can still do it.
Ok, so I took the easy way out this week. But the man deserves multiple ovations for finally breaking out with a huge game. Sadly, the Bills weren’t able to make it a successful one, but it was starting to get really worrisome that a guy who made 1,200 yards look easy was averaging less than 3 yards a carry in Week 13. Last week, he had the kind of stat line we had come to expect as routine in 2012. The Bills will need another one just like it in Tampa.
Dishonorable Mention of the Week:
If you listen to odds and Vegas and whatnot, the Bucs are the favorite this week. And taking everything I know, it's hard to argue with that given our awful road record. But screw that, I predict with my heart, not my head.
Bills 21, Buccaneers 10