The road to the playoffs is not impossible
blog by Ben Kirst • November 17, 2012 @ 1:17pm
I love this about Buffalo Bills fans (myself included): lose three consecutive games, two in gut-wrenching fashion, and this team stinks. Beat one mediocre divisional opponent: playoffs, baby! It does seem like fans are a bit more subdued this year than in seasons past, but I suppose you can only get kicked in the belly by the team you love so many times before you get a little wary. But if the Bills beat those Colts next week…
Here’s a look at the road ahead.
Opponent: at Indianapolis Colts.
Current record: 6-3, projected fifth seed in the AFC playoffs.
Key players: QB Andrew Luck, recipient of more slobbering praise from middle-aged men over the past three years than Caddyshack and Field of Dreams combined; CB Darius Butler, AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 11.
Something their local writers have said: “Fear the Neard.We’re talking about Andrew Luck’s neck beard, which is quickly becoming as iconic as Rollie Fingers’ handlebar mustache, Brian Wilson’s jet-black beard and Adam Morrison’s wispy porn ‘stache.” Courtesy of Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star.
Something mean about their city: The boringest city in the Midwest, and it looks like a dump on the drive in from the airport.
Nightmare scenario: Luck picks apart Buffalo’s questionable secondary and WRs Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton have monster games. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completes a series of passes to Butler, Tom Zbikowski, Cassius Vaughn and Josh Gordy. Bills get stomped, 38-17.
Living the dream: Young defense continues to improve and Kyle Moore and the Williamses make life difficult for Luck. C.J. Spiller runs like the wind. Bills shock the Colts, 24-14.
Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars
Current record: 1-8, fourth place in the AFC South.
Key players: WR Cecil Shorts (561 receiving yards, 4 TDs), LB Paul Posluszny (70 tackles).
Something their local writers have said: “If the 30-day holdout and complete absence of a Jaguars’ franchise running back from the EverBank facility this year has taught us anything, it’s that there’s two sides to him. Everybody is just waiting for the Maurice Jones-Drew side to overrule the Maurice Jones-Diva side.” Gene Frenette, Florida Times-Union, on Maurice Jones-Drew’s early season holdout.
Something mean about their city: We should love Jacksonville, since their NFL team is the piece of pillage-bait that may prevent us from losing our own.
Nightmare scenario: I can’t really see the Bills losing this game, but maybe Rashard Jennings rushes for 220 yards and the Bills settle for a bunch of field goals, losing a mind-numbingly boring game, 14-12.
Living the dream: Newly confident Bills crush an overmatched visitor. Hey, we’re back to .500 at 6-6!
Opponent: St. Louis Rams
Current record: 3-5-1, fourth place in the NFC West
Key players: QB Sam Bradford (2,072 passing yards, 10 TDs), CB Cortland Finnegan (3 INTs).
Something their local writers have said: “Getting smacked around by the Rams was such an alarming and traumatic experience for the 49ers, head coach Jim Harbaugh had to check into the hospital to receive treatment for an irregular heart beat.” Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on the 49ers - Rams tie.
Something mean about their city: St. Louis made the short list of Gawker.com’s Most Racist City in America? competition.
Nightmare scenario: Bradford comes out gunning and the Bills have no answer for RB Steven Jackson. Finnegan picks off two Fitzpatrick passes, takes one to the house and struts like a damn peacock all over the Ralph.
Living the dream: This ain’t your fancy Edward Jones Dome, Rams! Fitzpatrick throws all over the porous St. Louis pass defense and the Bills are 7-6.
Opponent: Seattle Seahawks (in Toronto)
Current record: 6-4, second place in the NFC West
Key players: RB Marshawn Lynch (1,005 rushing yards, 5 TDs), LB Bobby Wilson (81 tackles)
Something their local writers have said: “CenturyLink Field has a capacity of roughly 67,000, and when the Seahawks take the field almost all of those seats are full and many of those seats are occupied by smartphone-toting fans. The sheer number of people fighting for cell phone service and Internet can make for excruciating waits when it comes to your smartphone.” Thuc Nhi Nyugen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. This is what they worry about in other cities, folks.
Something mean about their city: The new Soundgarden album is by-the-numbers grunge. Not a great sign for setting the bar high when a reviewer calls it “not embarrassing.”
Nightmare scenario: Lynch and QB Russell Wilson hang 50 on a stunned Bills defense in front of a polite and quiet Toronto crowd.
Living the dream: We’re leading SportsCenter, baby! The Buffalo defense muscles up on the tough Seattle skill players and Spiller breaks off the game of his career as the Bills stun the Seahawks, 31-28, in front of a raucous Canadian centre.
Opponent: at Miami Dolphins
Current record: 4-6, third place in the AFC East
Key players: WR Brian Hartline (790 receiving yards, 1 TD), LB Karlos Dansby (70 tackles)
Something their local writers have said: “The problem for (QB Ryan) Tannehill is that he appears to be regressing at the very time he should be figuring it out. And his get-out-of-jail-free card — his rookie status — has a shelf life of just a few more weeks.” Adam H. Beasley, Miami Herald, on the struggles of the Dolphins’ rookie QB.
Something mean about their city: Miami has the highest violent crime rate in the nation. Glamorous!
Nightmare scenario: The Dolphins start backup QB Matt Moore and some competence in the most important position on the field gives Miami just the edge they need to beat Buffalo by three touchdowns. Oof.
Living the dream: A battered and disillusioned Dolphins squad barely shows up. The Bills roll to a dominant 31-3 victory and a shocking 9-6 record.
Opponent: aNew York Jets
Current record: 3-6, fourth place in the AFC East
Key players: QB Mark Sanchez (1,860 passing yards, 10 TDs), CB Antonio Cromartie (3 INTs)
Something their local writers have said: “Antonio Cromartie, who has been accused of being one of the anonymous sources behind the reported Tim Tebow bashing, claimed today that he didn’t say anything.” Brian Costello, New York Post. You know the context already.
Something mean about their city: “The cost of cleaning litter from the streets of New York City is equal to the gross domestic income of a small nation,” according to the charming NYC Garbage Project blog. Pick up after yourselves!
Nightmare scenario: Tebow knocks us out of the playoffs.
Living the dream: Bills take care of business in a pleasant New Year snowstorm. We make the playoffs. Everyone goes frigging bananas.