Greg's Weekly Picks

Greg’s NFL Week 9 Picks

LAST WEEK: 7-7 :: OVERALL: 69-47

What a CRAZY season this has been!! And, at least from my vantage point, my picks record reflects that unpredictable craziness. This past week I was again a pitiful 7-7, and really, many of the losses (and wins) could have gone either way. Some shocks, not many obvious outcomes.

Makes it pretty exciting, doesn’t it?

This week, due to other obligations, I am going to make it quick. I will add a few comments at the end, but for now I’ll just give my picks rather than thoughts on each game.

Green Bay (4-3) at Tennessee (7-0)
Arizona (4-3) at St. Louis (2-5)
Tampa Bay (5-3) at Kansas City (1-6)
Houston (3-4) at Minnesota (3-4)
Jacksonville (3-4) at Cincinnati (0-8)
Detroit (0-7) at Chicago (4-3)
NY Jets (4-3) at Buffalo (5-2)
Baltimore (4-3) at Cleveland (3-4)
Miami (3-4) at Denver (4-3)
Atlanta (4-3) at Oakland (2-5)
Philadelphia (4-3) at Seattle (2-5)
Dallas (5-3) at NY Giants (6-1)
New England (5-2) at Indianapolis (3-4)
Pittsburgh (5-2) at Washington (6-2)


Some pretty big matchups highlight the week nine NFL schedule. Dallas at NY Giants, and Pittsburgh at Washington, and New England (surprised?) at Indianapolis (though not the game it once was) are the matchups that involve two teams with very good records. Intriguing to me though are Green Bay at Tennessee (should be a “statement” game for both teams) and even Baltimore at Cleveland. The latter is really difficult to predict as Cleveland has (we think) found their offense again, but maybe so has Baltimore. Cleveland is the home team, so I give them the edge, but Baltimore could easily not just win, but dominate.

For Bills fans, the win will be a bit harder to come by with some key players missing due to injury (Josh Reed, Aaron Schobel, Brad Butler, and more) but the Bills are tough at home. The Jets will want the win to pull even in the division standings, but I still think the Bills will bounce back after their performance in Miami last week. Bills take care of business against the NY Bretts…

Go Bills!

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Current Bills Games Players

Mr. First Down

Josh Reed, Mr. First DownLast week, as the Bills had (somewhat unimpressively) clawed their way to a 16-7 lead in Miami against a charged-up divisional opponent looking to topple the division leaders, they may have discovered just how much #82 brings to the table.

Over the years, Josh Reed has been much-maligned for his under production. After all, he was the Fred Biletnikoff award winner in 2001. When you are proclaimed the nation’s top receiver coming out of college, certainly much is expected.

But not much was seen. Bills fans did not see the numbers you might expect from such an award winner. In fact, the number that might have stood out the most was the number of times he dropped passes. “Don’t throw it to Reed,” shouted Bills’ faithful, “he’ll drop it!!!”

And indeed he did.

Still, #82 persisted on the Buffalo Bills roster. Bills coaches would consistently laud his superior blocking skills. He was an assett to the team’s run game. (But, shouldn’t a receiver be an asset to the passing game?) They would also say he is a great route runner. (OK, that’s a plus for a receiver, but then you have to also catch the ball!!!) Year after year, training camp would come and go and somehow, someway, Josh Reed continued to make the final roster.

But what happened over the last couple years has definitely swung the balance of many Bills fans allegiance in Reed’s favor.

Reed has become (a name I have dubbed him on the Buffalo Bills Review), Mr. First Down.

When the Bills need a clutch catch, Reed makes it. Reed is the one who gets open, makes the tough grab, fights off the tackles, and gets just enough yards for the first down. First, he often runs routes that get him open beyond the first down markers – something many receivers do not seem to understand. Second, he makes the catch – something he did not seem to previously understand. And third, he often gains tough yards after the catch to ensure he gets the first down.

Perhaps we saw his importance to the Bills offense somewhat amplified last week when, in the second half after the team lost him to an injury, the offense was seemingly incapable of sustaining drives. Thinking back to games earlier this season, many of the 4th quarter come from behind victories involved multiple catches by Mr. First Down to keep the chains moving.

Reed is not a big play (meaning long yardage) receiver. He doesn’t score many touchdowns. But he is an essential part of the Bills offense, and when he misses any time it will take a big effort from his replacements to fill his shoes. I’m not certain James Hardy, Justin Jenkins and all three tight ends can really do that.

They’ll get a chance to give it a try this week. Reed has not practiced this week (in fact, he was wearing an immobilizer boot on the ankle with the strained achilles) and looks very doubtful for the game Sunday.

The once-maligned, under-achieving receiver has become an essential (and greatly missed) piece of the Buffalo Bills offense. Nice job, Josh. You are forever in the mind of this Bills fan… the original…

Mr. First Down.


Bills 16 – Dolphins 25 – 10 Things I Think

The NFL is a cruel league. You hang an L on your record in a game you should win, and it haunts you all season long. It stares at you as reminder of what could have been, what should have been. In the NFL you have to win the games you should win, and you need to win some of the games you shouldn’t win. The Bills lost an important opportunity against the Dolphins.

1. The offense clearly lost this game.

The NFL in 2008 is an offensive league. If all your offense can put on the board is 16 points (the Bills averaged 15.8 a game in 2007), you aren’t going to win enough games to compete for a championship. Three field goals and a touchdown against the Dolphins just does not do it. 17 points against the Cardinals didn’t do it.

The refrain from 2007 is now starting to sound equally true in 2008: The Bills would win if the offense would produce.

Why don’t the Bills score more? Hard to say exactly – some thoughts are below.

2. The Bills passing game clearly lost this game for the offense.

The NFL in 2008 is a passing league. One touchdown pass a game – all the Bills are getting in 2008, and more than they got in 2007 – doesn’t do it. 6.4 yards per pass attempt doesn’t do it. With only a few exceptions, in the NFL, if you aren’t throwing it effectively, you aren’t winning.

The Bills passing game gave up a safety, an interception and a fumble. That alone was enough to lose the game. But the Bills aren’t getting enough big gains out of the passing game. The Bills aren’t getting receivers into the end zone. The Bills were playing against one of the most porous pass defenses in the league, and they made those defensive backs look like Pro Bowlers.

We’re back to the 2007 questions – is it that we don’t have receivers who can get separation, or is it the patterns? I don’t know. All I know is that the Bills have to pass better than that.

3. Quarterback is the most important position on the team. Trent Edwards didn’t get it done. For the first time in 2008, he looked like a second-year quarterback. We’ve been saying for 10 months that we have to expect some games like this from Trent because, after all, he IS a second-year quarterback. But he’s been playing so well, I began to think he was mature beyond his years. No such luck. You can’t fool Mother Nature – there is no substitute for experience.

He probably lost the game on one play – the quarterback sneak. What was he doing? He has to know what happens when a ball carrier sticks the ball out there like that. At the goal line, maybe, because the play ends once the ball breaks the plane. In the middle of the field, never. Not in the middle of the defense like that. Total bonehead play.

The safety was nearly as bad. His job in the end zone is to avoid the safety. Get back, make a decision, unload it. That was two points and field position that resulted in a field goal. After that, it was a two possession game. Bonehead play.

The interception was unfortunate. He stood in, made the throw, and misjudged by just a split second when he would get hit.

Is Trent beginning to suffer from the same love affair with Lee Evans that troubled JP? Lee had seven catches and five more that he threw to Lee. Again, I’ll ask, is Lee the only receiver who can get close to open? Or is Trent locked on Lee? I don’t know. (I watched in a sports bar with a lot of noise and no audio, so I didn’t hear and didn’t notice that Reed left the game. I’m sure that made a difference.)

Trent’s vaunted accuracy failed him, too. He missed on several balls that he should have thrown better.

This was not the Trent Edwards we’ve seen earlier this season. If what see saw against the Dolphins is what we’ll see the rest of the season, the Bills will struggle. A passer rating of 77 doesn’t get teams to the playoffs.

4. When the Bills were winning games earlier this season, they did it in part by minimizing the mistakes. Not against the Dolphins. Neill’s snap over Moorman’s head. Royals’ fumble. Dockery’s hold (although it may have saved a sack). Preston’s unnecessary roughness.

5. As much as I like Fred Jackson, I do not understand why Marshawn Lynch is not in the game in the red zone. The man is a scoring machine. I don’t know how he does it, but he does it. I’m sure the coaches have some reason, and I’d love to hear it. All I know is that I’ve never seen a ball carrier who can pick up the scent of the end zone better than Marshawn Lynch. Put him in the game and give him the ball. Put him in the game and run play action. Put him in the game.

The running game was pretty good. Unfortunately, this is a passing league. (The Bills topped the run; the Dolphins stopped the pass. Dolphins won.)

6. During the week I heard some commentator say that the Colts defense was built to play with a lead. The Bills run the same defense. It’s a good defense. They played well enough against the Dolphins, especially in the points column. But this defense is NOT going to win games for the Bills week after week. It couldn’t win the game against the Dolphins.

The defense gave up two drives for touchdowns, and the Bills offense gave up a safety and three short fields for field goals. If the offense had held on to the ball, and if the offense could have scored one more touchdown, the Bills win.

7. The Bills’ efficient tackling abandoned them at times against the Dolphins. Greer, particularly, was missing the open field tackles he made last week against the Chargers.

Over all, however, the Bills did a good job taking ball carriers down. As good as Brown and Williams are, the Bills stopped them. Of course, it may have been that the Bills were so concerned about stopping those two that the Bills couldn’t stop the pass. That was certainly the case on the first touchdown, where Whitner and all his teammates bit on the play fake.

The Bills stopped the run. Unfortunately, this is a passing league. While the Bills were stopping the run, they fell asleep on the pass. Which leads me to another question …

8. How in the world could this defense make Ted Ginn, Jr. look like a Pro Bowl player? Really. McGee gets torched on the first play of the game, torched so badly that when Pennington – in classic Pennington fashion – underthrew the ball, McGee STILL couldn’t get there in time to break it up. 7 for 175, when the best he’d been able to so far this season was 7 for 55? 2 for 17 against the Jets? He puts up 175? Are you kidding me?

It looked like pure speed. I don’t think the Bills have a defender who can run with him. Maybe it was a break-out game for the guy. Maybe the Bills just thought they could handle him man-to-man; maybe every other team managed to cover him man-to-man. Maybe the Dolphins were running some new schemes. Whatever it was, the Bills coaches miscalculated somehow.

Ginn was the difference for the Dolphins offensively. Hold him to 100 and the Bills win, even with their offense sputtering.

9. Lee Evans was just short of brilliant. He didn’t get much separation on a few routes, Trent threw it anyway, and Lee couldn’t make the catch. But he’s clearly a challenge to cover man-to-man. He gets open, he catches the ball, he fights for yards. Impressive.

Hardy’s doing a little more each week. Reed made a spectacular run after catch for a first down – the Bills will miss if he’s gone for a while. Roscoe didn’t do much. I’m the one who will argue forever that tight ends aren’t that important, but even I have to admit that Royals has been a liability. All you need your tight end to do is get open once in a while, catch the ball when it arrives, and hold on to it. Royal’s second fumble in three games, plus a drop, suggests the Bills need another solution.

10. This was a killer game Sunday. Lose a division game on the same day the other two teams in the division win. The Bills are tied with the Patriots, a team that was in full view in the Bills’ rear-view mirror only a couple of weeks ago. The Bills have the worst in-division record. If they want to control their playoff destiny, they need to start with a win against the Jets next week.

Maybe the Colts will do the Bills a favor and take down the Pats next week. But if you want to win anything in this league, you have to win it yourself – you have to keep the ugly Ls off your record..

Memo to coaches: It’s a passing league.

If you’re looking for more on the Bills and Dolphins, check out the podcast at

See you next week.

Games Sabres

Buffalo Sabres are “Double Awesome”

Thomas Vanek and the Buffalo Sabres are on a rollThe Buffalo Bills are certainly grabbing many headlines these days as they continue their winning ways with a record of 5-1. They are playing great, and are quite deserving of all the attention they are getting. But the Bills are not the only sports franchise in Buffalo experiencing a very high level of success.

The Sabres are quietly returning to their President Trophy-winning form.

Going into their game last night, the 5-0-1 Sabres faced a tough challenge on the road against a team that was also undefeated in regulation (4-0-0) and is known for being one of the top defensive teams in the league. The Sabres are back to their goal scoring ways, though they have also improved their defense – as well as Ryan Miller leading the league in GAA – but playing in Minnesota was definitely going to be tough.

Because of all that, I told my family before the game began, “If the Sabres can win this one, they are awesome.”

Well, it appeared that we just might have been awesome. After one period, the Sabres had the lone goal. A 1-0 lead on the road against a tough team. Nice! I was getting ready to declare my team “awesome”.

But then we played the second period.

The Sabres looked pretty sloppy to me. A bit slower to the puck than Minnesota. And just a few giveaways let the Wild not only get back in the game, but end the period with a 2-1 lead.

Unfortunately, early in the third it got even worse. With Minnesota on a power play, Ryan Miller was attempting to clear the puck when a Minnesota player tipped a poorly aimed clearing attempt by Miller just enough to direct it into the net. Basically, Miller put it in his own net, giving the Wild a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 third period lead.

But these Sabres are nothing if not persistent.

With the team being in such a hole against such an opponent with such little time remaining, I now modified my pre-game declaration. “If the Sabres win the game now, they would be DOUBLE awesome.”

The puck had not been bouncing their way, but with under four minutes to go, Nathan Paetsch threw a puck to the net that Adam Mair tipped just inside the post. I was really glad they scored that goal, just to make it at least somewhat respectable. As I was still celebrating that goal, however, the NHL’s leading goal scorer fired a shot past the Wild goal tender and just like that – the game was tied!

The crowd was stunned. I was stunned. Maybe even the Sabres were stunned.

The game went to overtime, and only 44 seconds into the extra period, the Sabres shoved the puck past Minnesota goalie, Niklas Backstrom. It was Derek Roy’s first goal of the year, and it completed an improbable comeback win, even for the Buffalo Sabres, who have made a habit of that this season.

And it proved that the Sabres were indeed, “Double Awesome”.

It’s a fun year to be a Buffalo sports fan, folks! Enjoy it! Two teams are having some really great success. Still a little early in both seasons to know where it might lead, but you can’t have much better starts than our Bills and Sabres have had.

Go Buffalo!

Greg's Weekly Picks NFL

Greg’s NFL Week 8 Picks

LAST WEEK: 10-4 :: OVERALL: 62-40

Well, last week I ended up picking three (not four) crazy upsets: Miami, St. Louis, and Oakland. I’m happy to report that I got two out of those three right, and the one I missed was good for the Bills so… it all worked out! St. Louis won even more easily than I imagined, and Oakland went to OT, but did defeat the highly overrated Jets.

Thanks to those picks and a few others, I went a respectable 10-4 (finally!) in week seven. Was counting on the Broncos to actually arrive in Foxboro for the game to push me over the 10-win mark, but … no such luck.

Week eight holds some interesting contests. Let’s have a look!

Buffalo (5-1) at Miami (2-4)

Our beloved Bills face their first divisional opponent this weekend, and on the road no less. The Dolphins are definitely improved over last year with Chad Pennington adding some consistency to the QB position, and their crazy Wildcat offense. But last week the Ravens seemed to have figured that out, and even though they had some great wins over San Diego and New England, I just don’t see them beating the Bills. They should make a game of it, but I think tin the end… WINNER: Buffalo.

St. Louis (2-4) at New England (4-2)

St. Louis is on a roll! They have defeated playoff teams from a year ago (and potentially this season as well) in the past two weeks and now head to New England for a third straight monumental challenge. The Patriots took advantage of some of the poorest football execution I have seen in a long time put forth by the Denver Broncos on Monday night to roll up their biggest victory of the year. They looked like the 16-0 team from 2007 in that game. Despite their resurgence and 2-0 record under new coach, Jim Haslett, and in spite of the Patriots apparent resurgence last week, I think the Rams just can’t do it three weeks in a row. Almost by default… WINNER: New England

San Diego (3-4) at New Orleans (3-4)

The second annual game in jolly old England features two teams that should have better records. For whatever reason, they do not, and New Orleans will NOT be featuring one of their main star players, Reggie Bush. New Orleans looked pretty bad last week against the Panthers, and the Chargers – even in a loss – looked pretty good against the Bills. Should actually be a really good game, and could go either way, but at the moment, the edge (and the game) go to… WINNER: San Diego

Kansas City (1-5) at NY Jets (3-3)

Oh man. Do we have to watch this one?? LJ is still getting himself in trouble, so who knows if he will play (or if he will play well). The Jets proved they are mostly a bad team still with an OT loss to the Raiders last weekend (predicted here, of course). But even though they are the NY Jest… they are better than the Chiefs this year. I would be shocked if the Jets DON’T win this game. WINNER: NY Jets

Atlanta (4-2) at Philadelphia (3-3)

This is an intriguing game. Atlanta is playing well. They are both coming off their bye week. Philly RB (and key offensive cog) Brian Westbrook will be coming back from an injury. It’s in Philadelphia… too much going against Atlanta, though should be a hard fought game. WINNER: Philadelphia

Washington (5-2) at Detroit (0-6)

Ha. Washington has lost to the Rams, and nearly gave up the game to the Browns in the past two weeks. They will want to make a statement. WINNER: Washington

Tampa Bay (5-2) at Dallas (4-3)

This one is actually really hard to pick. Last week I (correctly) predicted that the ‘Boys were in pretty bad shape, and due for a loss against a revitalized Rams team. This week, I also think they should lose to the currently much better Bucs. However, it’s hard to pick against a team “on the ropes” that is playing at home. The Cowboys certainly have talent, and could definitely just overpower the Bucs. But what I like about Tampa Bay this year is their balanced-ness. They have a solid offense, good running game, and a very solid (great) defense. As crazy as it sounds… I think Dallas loses this one at home, too. And they are in serious trouble. WINNER: Tampa Bay

Arizona (4-2) at Carolina (5-2)

This one should be a shoot out! And, whenever you think that going into a game, it usually isn’t. It will probably end up a big defensive battle! (Just look at last week’s huge defensive battle between Chicago and Minnesota! 48-41???) Arizona is coming off their bye week, but they are playing on the east coast against a team that just crushed their division foe, the Saints. Even as well as Arizona is playing, the situation will likely be too much to overcome. WINNER: Carolina

Oakland (2-4) at Baltimore (3-3)

Not really as bad a game as it might seem. Oakland is far better than the joke that they used to be – and the joke that their franchise (front office, owner, coaches) still is. They should actually be a challenge for Baltimore, but perhaps the Ravens found their offense last week against Miami? Baltimore already has the better defense… WINNER: Baltimore

Cincinnati (0-7) at Houston (2-4)

This one may seem obvious, but do you think the Bengals could actually go 0-16? To my knowledge, that has never been done. And I think it’s nearly impossible at the NFL level. They will beat someone. Palmer is still not going to play. The Texans are good, and better at home… not this week Cincy. WINNER: Houston

Cleveland (2-4) at Jacksonville (3-3)

Just when we thought the Browns of 2007 were back… they looked pretty pathetic against the Redskins (although, in the end they almost pulled out the victory!) Which team will we see in Jacksonville? For that matter… which Jags team will we see? Are they a dominant, defensive, run-oriented team? Or can they not run the ball at all… and give up too many yards and points to the potentially-potent Browns offense? Definitely hard to call, but mostly due to home field advantage, my pick is… WINNER: Jacksonville

Seattle (1-5) at San Francisco (2-5)

Mike Singletary’s first game as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers should be a success. Seattle is just way too injury-depleted and seem to have packed it in for the season. WINNER: San Francisco

NY Giants (5-1) at Pittsburgh (5-1)

This is a great matchup. Two great defenses. To pretty great offenses. Smash mouth football. Big passing game football. Should have a little of everything. Are the Giants able to go into Pittsburgh (perhaps the best team in the AFC right now) and deal the Steelers a loss, defending their World Champion title? Or are they the team we saw on the road at Cleveland? Last year they were they kings of the road… but… not this time. WINNER: Pittsburgh

Indianapolis (3-3) at Tennessee (6-0)

I still contend that Tennessee is the beneficiary of their schedule. Some say that about the Bills, so I could be wrong. And, although this should be a good test, I am not sure it will be. The Colts have been really pretty bad. I know it’s injuries, but… that can only account for so much. The Bills were 7-9 last season with an insane amount of injuries. Indy very well could be 1-5, if not for two great comebacks engineered by the great Peyton Manning. Can Peyton be great enough to beat their division foe the Titans on their home turf? They need to to stay in the playoff hunt. That makes me think they will… WINNER: Indianapolis


Week eight could see the fall of the last undefeated team, will see the first AFC East game for the Buffalo Bills, and should see a colossally good football game Sunday night between the Giants and Steelers. I’m sure a few more surprises and great games will be thrown in there as well!

Go Bills! Squish the Fish!

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Bills-Charger – 10 Things I Think

Impressive. Very impressive.

1. With two key defenders (McGee and Schobel) not able to go, the Bills shut down one of the best offenses in the league. Granted, it was a home game, and the Chargers had their share of injuries, too. Still, this was Phil Rivers, first in passer rating, 9th in yards per game. Antonio Gates. Ladainian Tomlinson. Darren Sproles. They gained 400 yards and scored 30 points against the Pats. They got 260 yards and 14 points against the Bills. It was impressive.

You could see Rivers’ indecision. He’d drop back, look, start to throw, stop. Look someplace else, eventually pull the trigger. Some plays, of course, worked for them as designed, but the Bills pass defense clearly made him uncomfortable. Then, in the fourth quarter, when it was time to win the game, the Bills dialed up some blitzes, increased the pressure on Rivers, and he gave the game to the Bills. It was impressive.

The tackling wasn’t just impressive; it was spectacular. The ball would be in the air to Tomlinson in the flat, with no one near him, and I’d think “we’re in trouble.” Then Jabari would leave the shallow zone and begin to close, and Tomlinson would catch the ball, turn and make a move or two. Then he’d go down. Poz tackled like that. McKelvin did. Whitner did. Tomlinson’s a Hall of Fame ball carrier, nicked up a bit, but still a star, and he went NOWHERE.

2. Please don’t tell me anyone out there still doubts Trent Edwards. Old School, a long-time poster on the message board at, told me last week not to let the Arizona game bother me too much, because we didn’t have Edwards. Nice call, School – the single biggest reason there’s a 5 in the Bills’ record is that Edwards was on the field, and the single biggest reason there’s a 1 in the Bills record is that Edwards wasn’t on the field.

What was obvious against the Chargers was that Edwards knows what to do on every play. A couple of times at the snap Trent recognized that there would be an unblocked blitzer coming at him – he simply took a quick drop and unloaded the ball to his hot read. A couple of times he stood in the pocket until his protection – his unbelievably stout protection – finally was breaking down, and he calmly dumped the ball to the outlet he knew would be there. He found Jackson in the right flat for a nice gain on one of those.

I’ve never played quarterback, so I don’t know what it’s like to stand back there and try to think of all the things the QB is supposed to see and understand. I don’t know what it takes, but I do know Edwards has it. On the Jackson play, he checked down really quickly, because he saw something that told him Fred had running room and needed the ball NOW. He clearly knows where Lee Evans is going to be and where to put the ball for him. His only bad throw of the day was the deep out to Reed that was knocked down. He needed to unload that ball a little earlier, or he needed more on it – nearly was intercepted.

Outstanding performance by the young man.

3. Receiving. Remember when people used to say Lee Evans is a one-trick pony – all he can do is go deep? Well, if that’s true, someone else was wearing number 83 yesterday. That was one of Lee’s best days as a pro. He was getting open underneath all kinds of ways, and he caught everything that was catchable. We’re starting to see some run after the catch ability, too. BIG third down catch after the punt was downed at the goal line. And the touchdown catch was, well, it was the reason the Bills made Lee a wealthy man a few weeks ago.

Remember when people said the Bills needed a tight end? Robert Royal, 4 receptions for 53 yards. Antonio Gates, 4 for 55. Hmmm. Most tight ends make their receiving money by knowing where to be in a productive offense, and catching the ball when it arrives. That’s what we saw from Royal yesterday.

Nice to see Roscoe get that deep ball up the sideline. Send him deep and cut off the route; he can get open like that all day.

4. Yes, the Bills coaches are conservative, but they aren’t dumb. The no-big-plays defense rewarded the Bills again against the Chargers, but there was more to win than that. Listen to Kawika Mitchell explain after the game that his interception came on a play where the Bills had redesigned their defense. The Bills knew the Chargers liked to get Gates in single coverage on that play, and the Chargers knew that in the defense the Bills showed, they’d get single coverage. Unfortunately for Mr. Rivers, the Bills changed the assignments in that defense during the week to get Kawika underneath. Yes, it was a bad decision by Rivers, but the reason he made the decision was that on the film that he studied all week, Kawika was never there.

The Bills coaches also figured out how to stop the run.

They also figured out how to get the running backs wide against a defense that is tough up the middle.

The Bills were well prepared on Sunday.

5. The Bills running backs have heart. They keep pounding, no matter how many guys are trying to make the tackle. Best runs of the day were Marshawn’s touchdown – how many blockers did the Bills get outside the tackle? – and Freddy’s third down conversion at the two minute warning. No way he should have gotten past the sticks, but the line kept working and he squeezed himself through not much of a hole.

They caught 7 passes.

Marshawn also did a job on pass protection.

Their numbers weren’t great, but those guys contributed.

6. Rookie watch. McKelvin has a long way to go. He’s a serious tackler; I like that about him. But it’s clear that in man coverage, he plays too far off – he seems to think that when the ball’s in the air he’ll close on the receiver and make the play. Maybe in college, Leodis, but not here. In the NFL, if you’re 5 yards from the receiver when the ball is thrown, you’re going to be 5 yards from him when he catches it. Over the course of the game, Leodis tightened up the coverage – the second TD he gave up, he nearly made the play. The Bills are fortunate to have gotten him a full game of experience against a quality team without having gotten too badly burned. I think he’ll be fine, but he needs time.

Hardy didn’t seem to be in on any important plays. He was the fourth choice on every pattern, so far as I could tell. Like Leodis, it’s good for James to get on the field and start to figure things in games where the Bills don’t need him to win the game. The passing game looks so good, that I expect the Bills will find more opportunities for him to make plays as the season progresses.

Ellis. I didn’t notice him on the field. I saw a lot of Copeland Bryan running on and off, not much Ellis. Maybe I missed him.

Corner was out there from time to time.

7. Everyone keeps waiting for Donte’s break-out game. I don’t think it’s coming. I don’t think he’s the guy who’s going to be on Sports Center every week. What he is is an absolutely solid football player. Size, speed, technique, brains, heart. He was playing the nickel back in many packages yesterday. George Wilson and Bryan Scott were out there a lot with him.

I never saw Simpson on the field with the defense; he clearly could play, because for most of the game he was on the kickoff coverage team. Never saw Youboty, either.

8. Injuries. I was really sad to see DiGi go down. Initial reports don’t sound good, but if there’s a way for him to stay on the field. He will. Love the guy.

I didn’t notice that Butler had left the game the second time. Have to give Whittle credit for being ready, all the time, to play if needed.

Have to give Duke Preston credit, too. I don’t know how he did on run blocking, but he must have been doing something in the pass blocking schemes – no one came up the middle on Trent. He clearly wanted the opportunity to get on the field in his natural position. I wonder if this could become a permanent change.

What is it with Peters? Every few games he goes down and we all get nervous, and three plays later he’s back in the game. It certainly isn’t fair for me to call a man who can succeed in a man’s game a wimp, but it does seem to me that he doesn’t always bring to the game the heart that many great players have. Still, I’ll chalk that up to me wanting all my guys to be superstars; if Jason needs to take a play off now and then, I can live with that. It’s Jason being Jason.

9. Takeaway/giveaway wins games. It won for Arizona in game 5, and it won for the Bills in game 6. Nine takeaways for the Bills so far this year. You want more? Join the Ball Burglar at, and pledge to pay a dollar or two for every takeaway. Lots of Bills fans already are doing it; we’re over $300 per takeaway so far this year. Those nine takeaways are worth over $5000 for kids with serious childhood illnesses.

10. In case you haven’t heard, there was a power failure at Ralph Wilson Stadium yesterday, so fans in the stadium were treated to old-fashioned football – no advertising, no music blaring from the loudspeakers, no out-of-town scores, no down and distance, no clock. Also no TV timeouts – guy returns a punt, offense and defense run onto the field, and they start the next play. That was refreshing. No replays and no challenges (so far as I could tell, there were no challengeable calls while the power was out).

It didn’t seem to matter to the players (except that they had to go back to hand signals for offensive and defensive calls). Didn’t matter to the fans. The sun was shining and the Bills were winning. Who needed electricity?

Great game.

Miami’s next. Good teams on the road beat teams like Miami. Next week is another opportunity for the Bills to prove they’re a good team. In this league you have to prove it every week – just ask the Cowboys.

AFC East Games Schedule

One Very Meaningful Month

10/19 San Diego
10/26 @ Miami
11/2 New York Jets
11/9 @ New England
11/17 Cleveland

This Sunday the Bills host the San Diego Chargers. It’s a surprisingly difficult game to call. The Chargers would seem to have the upper hand talent-wise, but the Bills have many other advantages. Aside from being quite talented themselves, they also have the home field advantage, the time zone advantage (and no cross-country trip), they are coming off the bye, and a handful of other match-ups in their favor.

Still, the game could really go either way. And that doesn’t necessarily hurt the Bills.

Now, you always want to win. And, if they Bills pull off the win against the Chargers, that puts them in pretty good shape in the conference, having victories over the Jags and Chargers – two AFC playoff candidates. But if you take a look at the next month of games for the Bills, they could really put the team in a great position for their first playoff run in nine years.

From October 19th through November 17th, the Bills face five AFC opponents, three of those being their first AFC East contests of the 2008 season. If they can win each of those games, they would be almost a lock for a playoff spot. And of course, the opposite is true. If they should lose all or most of those games, it would be much more difficult, despite their 4-0 start.

Following the first game vs San Diego, the Bills head down to Miami to face the Dolphins in their first of three straight AFC East games. Miami has already beaten the Patriots and the Chargers, and gave Houston a tough game on the road recently. They are certainly improved over the 1-15 team they were last year. It will be a test for the Bills, especially being down in the heat of Miami in November. However, if the Bills are the team we think they are, they go into Miami, and leave with the win.

After that, the Bills host the New York Bretts … uh… Jets. The Jets certainly have a bit more… something? They have a decent receiving corp, a couple decent running backs, and a decent defense. But overall, they are still the Jets. Brett Farve is definitely the “X” factor, and can win any game he goes out to play. But they are still the Jets. The Bills need to win this game at home, and I believe they will.

That leaves the matchup I have been waiting for since the schedule game out. With half a season under their belts, our young, confident Bills will head to Foxboro, Massachusetts to take on the despised division rival, the Patriots. The Pats have won some ridiculous amount of games to the Bills ONE in the past many years. It’s time for that to change, and with Matt Cassell at QB, the Bills are in a much better position to go in and control the game, and leave with a big win over the Pats. The Patriots still have a decent team, but the Bills are better, and I will stick with my prediction that the Bills will win both games against New England this season. (Note: I made that prediction before Tom Brady went down with an injury for the entire season.)

That leaves the big Monday Night Football showdown at The Ralph against the Cleveland Browns. Last season, the Bills needed a win in Cleveland to have any shot at making the playoffs. They were met head on by a crazy blizzard and other such forces of nature, leading to a 8-0 loss to the Brownies. Was not at all what anyone was expecting, but perhaps this Nov 17th contest in Buffalo will turn out differently.

The Browns showed last week that they are still a talented team offensively. The Bills can score points as well. I’d expect a good battle between two up-and-coming AFC playoff hopefuls, and I would also expect the Bills to put on a show for the national audience. Much like they did vs Dallas last year, except this year, they will finish with a ‘W’.

If the Bills can have success as I describe above over the next month of Sundays (and a Monday) then at 9-1, or at least 8-2, they will be in great shape for their first trip tot he playoffs in nearly a decade. Following this 5-game stretch, the next two opponents are Kansas City, and then home against San Francisco.

Things are looking good for Bills fans.

A lot depends on this very meaningful month. How the Bills perform over that month should say a lot about them, and may nearly ensure that they will play in the second season.

That would be welcome news indeed.

Players Transactions

One Down, Two To Go

Bills Big Three, Evans, Edwards and Lynch
A few weeks ago, the Bills completed their efforts to lock up one of their star players for a few more years. Lee Evans signed a contract that will keep him playing in Buffalo through the 2012 season. That’s a good chunk of time, and Evans is a great player to build an offense around. In his first three years, he is on pace to be one of the best Bills receivers of all time.

But the Bills can not be satisfied. They have a bit more work to do.

Some fans and most of the media believe that the front office should now turn their focus toward left tackle, Jason Peters. Peters certainly has shown he is a great talent at that position, but I really believe he hurt his cause this past off-season by not only holding out, but reportedly refusing to even communicate with the Bills at all.

Where did that get him? So far through 4 games played he has been directly responsible for a couple turnovers, and some bad, drive-killing penalties. He has deservedly faced the reproof of many fans. And with two years remaining on his contract after this season, I’m really not sure it’s in the best interest of the Bills to focus on extending his deal right now. What can he do? Hold out again? Would that work for him?

No, there are two players who clearly are the heart of the offense moving forward. Two players who have at least a couple more years on their contracts, but who should be the primary focus of an aggressive and determined front office. Two more players you can really build a team around, not only because of talent, but character, heart, work ethic, and other such intangibles.

Trent Edwards and Marshawn Lynch should be directly in the crosshairs of Russ Brandon and his staff.

Edwards has proven already in his very short career that he has an understanding and command of the game of football, and an ability to read defenses and make decisions that goes beyond the talent he also has to get the football downfield to the receiver. His record as a starter is 9-4He is definitely a franchise quarterback, and needs to be treated as such. The Bills do not want to be renegotiating his contract in the final season of his current contract. They would do well to begin talking this offseason.

By the numbers, you could argue that Bills RB Marshawn Lynch is not a spectacular, franchise running back. He almost never cracks the century mark. His touchdown production has tailed off. His average per carry is usually under 4.0.

But numbers do not always tell the story.

If you get to watch Lynch, you know that his heart is enormous. When his team is down, he incredibly steps up his game another notch or two. He runs hard on every run, and usually is fighting through a few tackles before he even reaches the line of scrimmage. He calls his second gear “Beast Mode”, and over his short two year career there have been some amazing displays of that extra tough running.

Aside from the raw talent of both Lynch and Edwards, both players have displayed a strong work ethic in practice and in the off season, and that “second level” of determination to win in games. When they are on the field, the team – and the fans – can count on them to produce. That is rare, and critical.

So with Evans on the payroll for four more seasons, it’s time the Bills lock up the other two pieces of their main offensive attack: Marshawn Lynch, and Trent Edwards. With Edwards, Lynch, and Evans as the core, the Bills could have a potent offense for a long time to come.

Greg's Weekly Picks

Greg’s NFL Week 7 Picks

LAST WEEK: 9-5 :: OVERALL: 52-36

And then there was one. With the Giants losing on Monday night, there remains only one unbeaten team in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans are clinging to a 5-0 start with a fairly unimpressive win over the Baltimore Ravens (who are 2-3 after three straight losses) and for some strange reason, the division with the second-best record is the NFC South!!!

What is this league coming to?

Let’s take a look a my upset specials this week!

Dallas (4-2) at St. Louis (1-4)

I know, I know. They only lost to the Cardinals in overtime. But you gotta admit, the Cards pretty much owned that game. It was a miracle comeback that even allowed the game to get to overtime. Arizona deserved that win. And the week before that, Dallas came close to losing to Cincinnati, and they did lose the week before to Washington.. in Dallas! Now with Romo gone and several other important pieces of the team out (Roy Williams, or not) the Cowboys could struggle against a rejuvenated Rams team, who are also the home team. I know it’s an upset, but… WINNER: St. Louis.

New Orleans (3-3) at Carolina (4-2)

Here’s a game that pits two of those NFC South rivals against each other. New Orleans is surprisingly on the bottom of the division right now, and will be out to prove they are the best not the worst team in the South. Carolina will want to rebound from the beating they took in Tampa last week. Yikes. Both are very good teams. Tough game to call either way. Should be fun to watch! But, I gotta pick someone… WINNER: New Orleans

San Diego (3-3) at Buffalo (4-1)

Now, before you call me a homer for this pick… hear me out. The Bills are getting their starting QB back, apparently none the worse for the wear. They also get Roscoe Parrish back. They also are coming off a bye. They also play very well in big games at home. They also are awesome. (OK, that might be the homer coming out…) San Diego has been getting better each week, though, too, and with a big emotional win over their biggest rival of late – the New England Patriots – perhaps they come to Buffalo either “charged” up, or spent. In the middle of an insane, 16,000 miles of travel, I’m betting for the latter. Too many edges to Buffalo in this one. Buffalo proves they are legit. WINNER: Buffalo

Pittsburgh (4-1) at Cincinnati (0-6)

I am becoming a big Ben Roethlisberger fan. Seriously. I don’t even like the Steelers. But I am just shocked by how tough he is. Their line is awful, but HE is still winning games, even while he’s almost completely broken! The Bengals are just sad. They came close against the Giants and Cowboys on the road, but at home, still without Carson Palmer, they will be embarrassed by their division rivals. WINNER: Pittsburgh

Minnesota (3-3) at Chicago (3-3)

Lots of division games this week. This could be a pretty good game. Not sure really who the Vikes are this season. They can be dominant, or they can lose to just about anyone. Almost the same story for the Bears, but they looked pretty good even in defeat last week. Going with the home team in this one. WINNER: Chicago

Tennessee (5-0) at Kansas City (1-4)

I can’t believe the list of winners I am picking this week. Take a look at it at the end of this article. This game is another one of the crazy picks. It may just be a hunch. It may be Kansas City’s defeat of Denver earlier this year where LJ ran for 200 yards. It may be that I am not impressed at all with Tennessee’s team, particularly their offense. It may just be that I am crazy. WINNER: Kansas City

Baltimore (2-3) at Miami (2-3)

The Dolphins keep having success with their tricky offensive playbook, but will it be enough against the number one defense – in every category – in the NFL? Thanks to the Ravens’ anemic offense, they just may. Miami played tough again in Houston last week, coming off back to back wins over two AFC power houses. The Dolphins should triple their 2007 win total by week seven. WINNER: Miami

San Francisco (2-4) at NY Giants (4-1)

San Francisco is another confusing team. They have some great players. They have had some success this season. But at 2-4, not very much. Frank Gore could be a bit of a problem for the Giants, but you’ve got to think the Giants will want to prove that they are much better than they looked in Ohio on Monday. They were embarrassed. A loss to the Niners at home would be (perhaps) even more embarrassing. WINNER: NY Giants

Detroit (0-5) at Houston (1-4)

Can you remember the last time (if ever?) that a 1-4 team was favored by 9 points??? Detroit is that bad. And now they don’t even have Roy Williams. Or Jon Kitna. (Is that bad?) WINNER: Houston

NY Jets (3-2) at Oakland (1-4)

Believe me… I like Brett Favre. I have always like him. I think he gives the Jets much more legitimacy. Still… they just don’t impress me. And honestly, the Raiders do. More than in recent years. They have a pretty good defense, and a decent offense. I just don’t trust the Jets. WINNER: Oakland

Cleveland (2-3) at Washington (4-2)

Both of these teams had very different weeks last week. The Browns got their second win on Monday night against the defending (and previously unbeaten) Super Bowl champs. The Redskins seemed to fight off a valiant effort by the winless Rams, only to allow a completion on a desperation pass, and a last second loss on a long FG. Washington is a legitimate 4-2, while I’m not sure Cleveland is a legitimate 35-14 winner over the Giants. Will be tough for Cleveland to win, even with their potentially potent offense. WINNER: Washington

Indianapolis (3-2) at Green Bay (3-3)

Green Bay is still playing well, despite their young QB still playing injured. Indianapolis is playing better and better, because of their older QB. I want to pick Green Bay in this one because they are a good team, at home, playing a Colts team with a few injuries still… but… I can’t pick against Peyton for some reason. WINNER: Indianapolis

Seattle (1-4) at Tampa Bay (4-2)

Tampa Bay has had some impressive wins this year. This should have been a better game than it will be. Seattle will be making another trip to the east coast and it has not been pretty. I don’t expect this will be much of an “impressive” win for the Bucs. They should win easily. WINNER: Tampa Bay

Denver (4-2) at New England (3-2)

They only have two losses. The most recent was pretty bad. They also lost to Miami. That’s bad. Still, the Pats are 3-2. And they are the home team in this game. And, while it is really hard for me to think that the Broncos will win easily, I can actually see that happening. Cutler has had a good year, Marshall has had a great year, the Broncos always have a good running game…. if their defense can hold up against a weakened Pats offense… it could actually be pretty ugly. WINNER: Denver


You could never have convinced me before the season started that I would pick St. Louis, Kansas City, Miami, and Oakland to all win in the same week. Never. But, in week seven… that is precisely who I have picked. If that does actually happen… that will be insane. I’d like to point out in advance, that I predicted the insanity here!

Week six had some amazing finishes. What will week seven hold?

A Bills game! Go Bills! And see ya at The Ralph for the BBR Game!

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BBR Guys BBR Listeners Events

BBR Game! Oct 19th, vs San Diego

It’s time for the 2nd Annual BBR Game! We’ll be meeting up in the southwest corner of the northeast lot. (The lot closest to the stadium.) We’re planning to be making wings (Greg’s famous wings) as well as some other great tailgating “cuisine”. Be sure to bring something to add to the mix.

We’ll be there no later than 10am, and plan to hang out till about noon when we’ll pack up and head in for a big Bills win!!

BBR celebrities will be there, including your BBR hosts, the Ball Burglar guys, Tom Calderone, and the infamous Sven from Germany! (Maybe we can even get a cameo appearance by JP Losman?)

We will not be recording the show in the parking lot following the game this year, but that gives y’all more time to get your calls and emails in after the game.

Click the map below for directions, and we’ll see ya out THIS SUNDAY at the BBR Game!

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