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Bills 2013 schedule: Path to perfection - OPINION

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Last year, we plotted out how the Buffalo Bills could breeze through their 16-game schedule without blemish, shredding the loathed Patriots twice, confusing easily-confused Marshawn Lynch and unwinding with a beard-growing contest between Chris Kelsay and Ryan Fitzpatrick during the bye week.

Perfection was within the Bills’ grasp.

Alas, that’s not what happened. Buffalo wound up with a 6-10 record—2-4 in the AFC East—and fired head coach Chan Gailey following the campaign. Dreams of an undefeated season were dashed in Week One against the Jets, and Mario Williams’ wrist injury and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s struggles marred much of the early going.

A short-lived rebound had Buffalo sitting at 3-3 for a minute, but a narrow loss to St. Louis and a spanking by Seattle, 50-17, in Toronto, all but doomed the Bills’ already slim playoff hopes. To the surprise of very few, Gailey and his staff were given the axe on the final day of 2012.

Nick Barnett, Shawne Merriman, George Wilson, Andy Levitre, Chad Rinehart, David Nelson and Terrence McGee—among others—were released, retired or signed elsewhere.

Enter former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, former ‘Cuse offensive coordinator Nate Hackett and former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and the Buffalo Bills will have a markedly different look for 2013.

Do you know what this means? More dreams of perfection (printable schedule here).

Week 1, Sept. 8: home vs. New England Patriots, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: Opening the season at home is already an advantage compared to 2012, and the Bills—directed by rejuvenated starting QB Kevin Kolb—befuddle the Pats, who are missing half their starters because Rob Gronkowski’s awkward forearm infection has spread to teammates Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley and Vince Wilfork through mysterious means. The only New England player who excels is punter Zoltan Mesko—pinning Buffalo deep several times because of his awesome name. Bills win!

Week 2, Sept. 15: home vs. Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: A bit ahead of schedule, the kid from the NFL Play 60 commercial has already replaced Cam Newton at the helm of the Carolina attack, and Steve Smith is disgruntled (per usual).

Behind a surprisingly sturdy offensive line galvanized by Eric Wood’s curly mane, Kolb hooks up with rookie second rounder Justin Hunter for two scores, surgically picking apart perhaps the league’s worst secondary. Bills win!

Week 3, Sept. 22: away @New York Jets, 4:25 p.m.:
Prediction: Yes, we’re just as perplexed as you are that Mark Sanchez is still the Jets’ starting passer. Regardless, this fact alone is why the Bills will win this game. Sanchez plows into the rear end of teammate and center Nick Mangold in the fourth quarter, resulting in another embarrassing collision that makes Joe Namath babble drunkenly on the sideline. Buffalo’s first round draft pick, Ryan Nassib, even sees mop-up duty in this blowout. Bills win!

Week 4, Sept. 29: home vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: While the idea of the Ravens without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed is an odd thought, the defending Super Bowl champions will still be a menace. Fortunately for Buffalo, Joe Flacco slips on a stack of money mid-week and is forced to miss the clash—Caleb Hanie enters in relief but is picked off late by converted safety Aaron Williams to seal a narrow Buffalo victory. TBN’s Jerry Sullivan even sends Williams a congratulatory tweet. Bills win!

Week 5, Oct. 3: away @Cleveland Browns, 8:25 p.m.
Prediction: Riddled by ownership difficulties and a bleak recent history that rivals the Bills’ ineptitude, the Cleveland Browns receive even worse news when the organization learns Brandon Weeden is actually 45 years old, not 29 like he’s led everyone to believe.

Sacks from Mario Williams and Karlos Dansby rattle Weeden, who runs Trent Richardson 51 times—despite trailing by several scores—because Greg Little drops everything thrown at him.

Kolb connects with Stevie Johnson for a crucial score—and then SJ13 dons a Velour jumpsuit in the end zone to honor Macklemore, an artist he collaborated with in September. Bills win!

Week 6, Oct. 13: home vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: With Johnson suspended for his celebration antics against Cleveland, the Bills ride C.J. Spiller to victory as the Bengals are forced to sign several former junior college players after defenders Rey Maualuga, Dre Kirkpatrick, Jabaal Sheard, Vontaze Burfict and Pacman Jones all decide that they miss prison.

The Andy Dalton-to-A.J. Green connection is as lethal as ever, but it’s not enough to overcome Spiller’s yards-after-contact wizardry. Bills win!

Week 7, Oct. 20: away @Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: Sporting a high-top fade because the Bills are 6-0—the result of a friendly bet with beastly punter Shawn Powell—Doug Marrone purchases game tickets for all Buffalo senior citizens vacationing in Florida and hands out posters of Ryan Tannehill’s wife, Lauren, which distracts both teams throughout the game.

It’s an ugly contest, but Buffalo handles the sweltering heat, and a deep-ball from Kolb to T.J. Graham punctuates the triumph. Bills win!

Week 8, Oct. 27: away @New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: Even though 10 months have passed since the conclusion of the 2012 season, the New Orleans Saints remain clueless defensively. Hackett wisely advises Kolb to pick on Saints safety Roman Harper, who still gets shaken by his own shadow.

Former Bills Jabari Greer and Jim Leonhard don’t recognize anyone on Buffalo’s roster, and Leonhard still takes instruction from Pettine, a useful “leak” that allows Buffalo to prevail through deception. Bills win!

Week 9, Nov. 3: home vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: The Bills celebrate their decision to avoid signing Alex Smith, as the game-manager QB can’t seem to connect with well-paid, oft-lazy receiver Dwayne Bowe.

Andy Reid, more focused on winning Deadspin’s “Coaches Challenge” for most amusing challenge-flag throw than actually winning games, chooses to give Jamaal Charles only five carries per game, trying to one-up his predecessor. Kansas City’s defense is one of the best in the NFL, but Buffalo squeaks out a victory behind the leg of Rian Lindell. Bills win!

Week 10, Nov. 10: away @Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: This is not the “Steel Curtain” of old, as Pittsburgh is plagued by the injury bug yet again. Troy Polamalu misses action with an unnaturally soft scalp, while Big Ben is sidelined with a staph infection he blames on teammate Plaxico Burress.

Heinz Field is never a pleasant venue for opponents, but the rookie Hunter climbs over top Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor for a controversial winning touchdown, sending Mike Tomlin, Bill Cowher, Franco Harris and Chuck Noll into fits of rage. Bills win!

Week 11, Nov. 17: home vs. New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Prediction: Oh, the rematch against the Jets. Joe Namath guarantees a victory—while Suzy Kolber predicts an easy Buffalo win—and Rex Ryan agrees to foot the bill of the bet between the two. (Somewhere Wes Welker just chuckled.)

All is not well inside MetLife Stadium as, despite heroics from off-season signing Chris Ivory, the J-E-T-S have not completed a passing touchdown through Week 11. Ryan toes the line between hopeful and despondent, as he found a gem in Ivory but NYJ is just 2-8. Make that 2-9—Bills win!

Week 12, Nov. 24: BYE WEEK
Prediction: It’s a joyous Thanksgiving in Western New York, as the Bills roll into Turkey Day with an 11-0 record and a playoff berth in tow.

Manny Lawson and Alan Branch engage in a sloppy, hand-less cranberry-sauce eating competition to benefit Hospice, and everyone—except for the floor of the field-house—wins. Elsewhere, Jairus Byrd signs a long-term deal to keep him in the Nickel City until 2020.

Week 13, Dec. 1: home vs. Atlanta Falcons, 4:05 p.m.:
Prediction: With both teams coming off a bye, this is a showdown of the top two teams in the NFL—a pity because the Rogers Centre only lures 4,000 fans because ticket prices exceed $400 for nosebleeds.

For curious reasons, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White have expired passports, and what’s billed as a high-scoring indoor showdown turns into a Buffalo blowout. Both Stephon Gilmore and Steven Jackson are ejected for quarreling over quality of dreadlocks. Marcell Dareus speaks out adamantly against the Toronto series, and the Bills’ international series comes to an abrupt end. Bills win!

Week 14, Dec. 8: away @Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: Back on Revis Island, Stevie Johnson—exceptionally fit because of his off-season training regimen—manages to shake the Bucs’ heralded signing on a cross pattern to haul in the winning TD from Kolb. Spiller matches the performance of Doug “Muscle Hamster” Martin—the favorite for offensive player of the year honors—and Gilmore snags a vital interception from Josh Freeman to back his bid for the Pro Bowl. Bills win!

Week 15, Dec. 15: away @Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: Gus Bradley has his Jaguars playing respectable football through a rebuilt defense—sparked by rookie Dion Jordan—but Paul Posluszny breaks his arm trying to wrap up C.J. Spiller on a late scamper to pay-dirt, rubbing salt in the Jags’ wounds. The position battle between Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert is a major distraction, and Maurice Jones-Drew can’t be faulted for looking ahead to free agency. Bills win!

Week 16, Dec. 22: home vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: Although the Tannehill to “60 Minutes” (Mike Wallace) hook-up has the ‘Phins in the hunt for an AFC Wild Card spot, Miami’s sheer absence of a running game allows Buffalo to play six in the secondary with regularity, as even “Mr. Utility” Brad Smith sees some time in the “Troy Brown” role.

Tannehill tosses a game-clinching interception to Gilmore, and Lauren Tannehill is later seen crying into a mountain of wings at Duff’s in Orchard Park. Bills win!

Week 17, Dec. 29: away @New England Patriots, 1 p.m.:
Prediction: Bill Belichick mocks the Bills’ undefeated season, but since New England has already clinched a wild card, he graciously plays his reserves so Buffalo can attain perfection.

Tom Brady—now 36-years-old—plans a picnic with Gisele rather than face Buffalo’s three-headed defensive line monster of Dareus, Mario Williams and Kyle Williams. Bills win!

It can happen, right?

(Bills photos courtesy of the team’s Facebook page, while photos of Lauren Tannehill are courtesy of her Facebook fan page.)

TAGGED: buffalo bills, buffalo bills fans, c.j. spiller, doug marrone, justin hunter, kevin kolb, lauren tannehill, nfl, perfect season, super bowl

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