Three reasons to watch Buffalo and San Diego on Sunday
blog by Dan Ludwig • December 09, 2011 @ 3:28pm
For Buffalo Bills (5-7) and San Diego Chargers (5-7), the message sounds like a broken record. The Bills started the season strong and have since faded into playoff irrelevance. The Chargers had preseason hopes of a Super Bowl run, but have been underwhelming due to turnovers and poor coaching. Nonetheless, the season trudges forward as Buffalo travels to San Diego for a 4:15 p.m. kickoff this Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.
Last week, the Chargers took action, letting their fans and the media know that head coach Norv Turner would be fired at the end of the 2011-12 campaign (because nothing sends a strong message of change like a lame-duck head coach). Turner’s coaching hasn’t been the only problem for San Diego, however. All-Pro quarterback Philip Rivers has been lackluster at best—the North Carolina State graduate has thrown a career-high 17 interceptions this year.
The Bills woes in 2011 are well-documented. Despite a hot start to the season, the team has fallen off the deep end, partially due to injuries. This week, the injury troubles continued for the Bills as tight end Scott Chandler was declared out of Sunday’s lineup and kicker Rian Lindell was placed on injured reserve. Feel free to poke fun at the importance of a kicker being shelved for the year, but Lindell has proved a consistent presence on special teams and his performance has been missed. Not in the win-loss column, you know, but he’s always wowing the locker room with his sweet acting skills.
With neither team likely to make the playoffs, here is three reasons to still tune in on Sunday:
If there is a silver lining in running back Fred Jackson’s injury, it is that C.J. Spiller is finally being put to the test. Spiller, the first-round draft pick in 2010, had been decidedly underwhelming in his young career, but his advocates say that he has not been given the chance to prove himself. With Jackson on IR for the season, Spiller has the chance to see regular action. He played well last week against Tennessee, tallying 83 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Spiller must continue to show up large for the Bills if he wants to shed the “bust” label in many fans’ minds.
Can Chan Gailey’s offense evolve?
Remember when the Bills were scoring 30+ points a game? Neither do I. Remember when they beat New England? That really happened!
It seems that ever since the New York Jets came into Buffalo and bullied the Bills, the offense has not been the same. Gailey’s short-passing game and screens worked for a while, but it seems that it has gotten exposed by defensive coordinators and the scheme is more stale than the crumbs in Fitzy’s beard (save that thing already—when you’re winning, it’s funny, when you’re losing it’s just ridiculous). It will be interesting to see if the head coach can add further wrinkles to his offense and return to the torrid production from earlier this year.
The Bills defense is due for a big game.
Alright, don’t get me wrong—the Bills defense is bad. That said, there were times this season where they showed signs of brilliance, especially in taking advantage of other team’s miscues (remember the Patriots game!) In fact, Buffalo has recorded the fifth-most interceptions of any team in the NFL this year. This stat, combined this with Philip Rivers interception problems this year, and it is possible that the Bills D is poised for a big, point-producing play (Secondary players, we’re looking at you!).
Photo courtesy of Flickr / Jeffrey Beall.