Older AFCE

Older AFCE

Buffalo Bills: Not So Fast

Buffalo Bills: Not So Fast
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Well, the Bills managed to pull off the unexpected upset over Arizona in Week 3 with a dominant defensive performance and a revitalized offense after the firing of Greg Roman and the advancement of Anthony Lynn to offensive coordinator and play caller.
 
The defense was far better compared to Week 2’s disastrous performance against the Jets. Dennis Thurman called plays and decided that maybe sending safeties back to help corner backs against talented wide receivers was a good idea, and the results were impressive with Aaron Williams and Corey Graham making big plays in the first half. The offense got the run game going and Shady McCoy found paydirt twice before the break. The defense forced multiple INTs and scored on a muffed field goal snap late in the game to seal the victory. On the surface, the Bills look to have found their mojo just in time for a crucial road trip to New England.
 
Or did they? Let’s take a big step back here and avoid jumping on the hype train at this stop.
 
The Bills defense was actually schizophrenic this entire game. The first five Cardinals possessions they forced a three and out each time, only allowing two total yards of offense, but after that, they allowed 346 yards and 16 points. That’s still not too bad, really, but after playing against the pass so well for those first five drives, they got sloppy and started allowing Palmer to hit his talented receiving group on simple up and out patterns with near total impunity. If Palmer hadn’t been forced to try to make plays due to the big deficit the Cardinals found themselves in early, he probably wouldn’t have thrown four back breaking interceptions.
 
And thank providence for those turnovers. Were it not for those the Bills could very easily have lost this game. The offense couldn’t do anything in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Aside from a gift deep in Arizona territory that lead to a field goal, the Bills didn’t do a damn thing on offense aside from give up a safety that allowed Arizona to close the game back to a two score margin and give them the ball back with exceptional field position. Overall, the running game was impressive against a supposedly good defense, but, once again, the offense was fueled by big plays sparked by mistakes made by the opponent. Chandler Jones blowing contain on Tyrod Taylor’s huge run. Patrick Peterson tripping over his own overrated feet allowing Tyrod to scamper to the end zone from 20 yards out. The defense inexplicably allowing LeSean McCoy to have a completely unimpeded path to a touchdown from 24 yards out. Big plays are great when they happen and so much fun to watch, but they aren’t something you can win consistently with. The Bills offense needs to be able to grind out first downs, extend some drives, and eat up the clock when they are in the lead, or they will not be able to close out games that they could win. I will give Tyrod a small pass on his numbers, since he was missing two of his more reliable targets in Watkins and Salas. The man isn’t the kind of quarterback who can elevate players like Woods, Goodwin, and Walt Powell.
 
When the Bills head to New England to face some quarterback (we still don’t know which one), what they are also going to find is an extremely disciplined football team that doesn’t make the kind of sloppy mistakes that lead to big plays. Bill Belichick will have his squad locked down and ready to counter the Bills’ offensive strengths and the offensive game plan will be tailor-made to exploit the Bills’ defensive shortcomings. They certainly cannot expect to be plus-four in the turnover margin this week either. More than ever before, Rex Ryan needs to find a way do something he has never done in his head coaching career, establish a balance between getting his players fired up to face an opponent and keeping them disciplined enough to avoid costly mistakes. They cannot play emotional football against the Patriots, they need to play disciplined, calm, focused defense and deliberate, inexorable offense to come out of New England with a win. If they lose this game, Rex will find that the pleasant cooling sensation under his backside that he earned on Sunday will be immediately replaced with something akin to thermite.
 
My prediction: Patriots 27, Bills 19

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