Greg's Weekly Picks

Greg’s NFL Week 13 Picks

LAST WEEK: 10-6 :: OVERALL: 107-68-1

This is late getting up, but it’s been a full week with the holiday and Black Friday and all.. 🙂 Ha! Last week was not so good, I maintain that this has been one of the craziest NFL seasons. Very difficult to predict what will happen as any team can beat any other team so far this year, including undefeated teams!

Let’s take a look at week 13.

Tennesee (10-1) at Detroit (0-11)

This was not going to be a game anyway, but got worse when Tennessee lost the week before. WINNER: Tennessee.

Seattle (2-10) at Dallas (7-4)

Why were there such bad games for Thanksgiving? WINNER: Dallas

Arizona (7-4) at Philadelphia (5-5-1)

Should have gone with my gut on this one. Arizona is awful on the road, especially the east coast. WINNER: Arizona

Miami (6-5) at St. Louis (2-9)

Miami is playing well, and St. Louis is not. Strange, but true. WINNER: Miami

NY Giants (10-1) at Washington (7-4)

Washington wants to make ammends for a poor week one performance, Portis is playing. WINNER: NY Giants

New Orleans (6-5) at Tampa Bay (8-3)

Defense wins championships, and games. WINNER: Tampa Bay

Carolina (8-3) at Green Bay (5-6)

Green Bay played well, despite the score, last week. Home team wins in late November. WINNER: Green Bay

Indianapolis (7-4) at Cleveland (4-7)

Cleveland lost their starting QB, and Indy’s keeps getting better. WINNER: Indianapolis

Baltimore (7-4) at Cincinnati (1-9)

Baltimore is playing well on offense, too. Shouldn’t have any problem here. WINNER: Baltimore

San Francisco (3-8) at Buffalo (6-5)

Buffalo should have no problem here, either. It is the return of Clements and Spikes. That should be fun. WINNER: Buffalo

Atlanta (7-4) at San Diego (4-7)

Atlanta will surprise a beatable Chargers team. WINNER: Atlanta

Kansas City (1-10) at Oakland (3-8)

This game is almost impossible to pick, because BOTH are so bad! Chiefs are playing better. WINNER: Kansas City

Pittsburgh (8-3) at New England (7-4)

Surprisingly good game here, can the Steelers defense win the game for them? Yes. WINNER: Pittsburgh

Denver (6-5) at NY Jets (8-3)

The JETS beat the TITANS??? Yikes. Denver shouldn’t have a chance here. WINNER: NY Jets

Chicago (6-5) at Minnesota (6-5)

Classic NFC North battle. Home team wins. WINNER: Minnesota

Jacksonville (4-7) at Houston (4-7)

Both of these teams have had tough seasons. They are better than their records indicate, but have had their struggles. Jags have a great running game when they can get it going. WINNER: Jacksonville


Bills fans are rooting for St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Denver and Pittsburgh. And, the Bills. That would be a great weekend!

Go Bills!

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Current Bills Games

A Game of Inches

Football is a game of inches. Inches turn into feet and feet turn into yards. And yards, of course, turn into what feels like miles.

But it all starts with inches.

Looking back on the Buffalo Bills mid-season slump, it’s easy to see how Bills fans can feel like this team is just plain awful. The turnover difference alone was abysmal. Minus 11 over the six game stretch where they were 1-5. But add to that the apparent ineptitude of the run game, as well as the general lack of production from the offense… and you have some sizable “inches”.

The problem is, from a slightly different perspective, you can see how it really is about the inches.

Take for example, the game against the Jets. If all things were equal – meaning Trent gets injured on play number three of the Cards game, and the Bills are stunned by the Fish, and they remain befuddled by Belichick’s gameplans, and they even lose a very winnable game to the hapless Browns – winning just one game in which they were very competitive, they would be in a tie for first place in the AFC East, instead of two games out. Just by winning that one game.


Remember that game? The Bills had the ball for fifteen straight minutes. Game minutes, not clock minutes. They moved into the red zone once and, thanks to good pressure from the Jets and a receiver slipping, the ball went the other way for seven points. The next time, thanks to a couple very questionable spots, the Bills could not get a first down deep in the Jets territory. Two long drives, zero points.

Add to that the crazy play by Leon Washington to step out of bounds and then touch the ball that was still IN BOUNDS in order to get the Jets the ball at the 40 rather than inside their own 10. Or, the Bills inability to stop the Jets on the final drive of the 4th quarter where they took off a big chunk of time and posted three more points. (Credit the Jets on that one.)

But for a few key plays, the Bills could have won that game, and been in a much different position than they find themselves in now.

Now they are 0-3 in their division. If they have any hopes of advancing to the playoffs, they will need to win the rest of the games they play in the AFC East. At the New York Jets, “home” against the Dolphins (in Toronto), and then home against the Patriots in the final week of the season. None of those will be easy, but the Bills certainly can compete in each of those games.

If we’re talking inches, don’t forget that the Bills were stunned by Miami’s Ted Ginn Jr. who had the game of his life when they last met. Even with Ginn’s stunning performance, the Bills had clawed back to take a 16-7 lead in the third quarter. But one player – Josh Reed – went down with a serious injury, and the offense began to sputter. One player was hobbled by an injury – Terrance McGee – and that deficiency was exploited… greatly.

But for a few different plays, a different player, a few different calls, an NFL season can look very, very different altogether. Just ask the San Diego Chargers. Losers of four games in the final 26 seconds of those games… they are a pitiful 4-7 this season, but could very well be 8-3. That’s a very big difference.

Every game in the NFL is critical. Wins and losses matter more in football than in any other sport I can think of. With only 16 games per season, and only 6 games total against the other teams in your division, it’s almost essential you win every game! The Bills have been sloppy at points (Miami, Cleveland) and unlucky in others (Arizona, NY Jets) and now they are stuck with a 6-5 record, and still on the outside edge of the proverbial playoff bubble.

Every year, players and fans can look back at “what might have been” but in the end, that really never helps. The Jets game is over, and the Bills lost. The difference is first to last place, from just one game, but you can’t get it back. Now the Bills can only look forward, and hope to win every game they play. 10-6 may not be good enough to make the playoffs this year.

Actually, 11-5 might miss the playoffs!

If the Bills won all the rest of their games – finishing 11-5 – the Jets would lose one, to the Bills, but could win the rest of theirs, to finish 12-4. The Patriots would only be able to finish 11-5, by virtue of of a loss to the Bills, and the Fins could only finish 9-7, again, after a loss to the Bills, and assuming they lose to the Jets in week 17. What could keep the Bills out of the playoffs is if Indy and Baltimore also win the rest of their games, to both go 12-4 and grab the two wild card spots! What a crazy scenario that is!

A better scenario for Bills fans would be for the Jets to lose to the Dolphins, and finish 11-5 at best, and then the Bills would win the division based on the better conference record (would be 8-4). That would send the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since 1999!

But any way you slice it, thanks to this game of inches… the Bills need help. They can’t make the playoffs on their own. They have to do their share (beating all three division opponents at least, and probably Denver, too, if not all five games) but even if they can accomplish that, they won’t be in the playoffs unless other teams falter.

How does it always end up this way?

Somehow, the Bills need to find a way to get on the other side of the ruler. We’re only talking a matter of inches.


Bills – a lot – Chiefs – not so much – 10 Things I Think

Welcome to the Buffalo Bills Roller Coaster. Either the greatest show on earth, or just cheap thrills.

1. It’s nice to have a win, really nice.

When you lose, no matter how you lose, it’s always bad. When you win, no matter whom you beat, it’s a good thing. Yes, it was the Chiefs. Yes, the Bills won primarily on Chiefs’ mistakes. Yes, all sorts of things didn’t go all that well for Buffalo.

The Bills won. They desperately needed a win, and they got it.

It’s a good thing.

2. The Bills need playmakers, and Leodis McKelvin is a playmaker. Both interceptions were outstanding individual plays, reacting to the ball, beating the receiver and making the catch. (Did someone say he had bad hands?) Big-time athletic play, putting the ball over the pylon. Another really nice kick return. Two games in a row, he’s given the Bills an edge.

Bobby April said Leodis needed time to understand what the Bills were doing on kick returns. Perry Fewell said Leodis needed time to understand his assignments on defense. Looks like time was on his side. We’re starting to see the talent that made him a top draft pick. Leodis could be one of those special players championship teams need.

3. I hate to be Debbie Downer here, but I saw a lot of things I didn’t like:

a. The Bills couldn’t stop the Chiefs. Chiefs were 26th in the league in yards per game, 29th in points. The Bills gave up 462 yards and a lot of points. The Chiefs punted only three times. It wasn’t a great defensive performance. I’m not sure I can even call it good. What the Bills did do is make some big plays – two by McKelvin. They forced a fumble. Big plays overcome a lot.

b. The defense gave up two long plays. What is it with the big plays? Of course, if you take away the big plays, the Bills only gave up about 300 yards and two fewer touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Bills don’t seem to be able to take away the big plays.

c. The Bills gave up a touchdown drive to start the game. Not good.

d. The Bills TWICE left the greatest tight end in the history of the game absolutely completely totally wide open. “Okay, fellas: This guy, number 88, he’s good. We want to have someone on him all the time.” Did you see that touchdown catch? How in the world do you forget about Tony Gonzalez at the goal line?

He’s going to catch some balls, sure. I’ll give him that. But we should try covering him.

e. The offense put up a lot of points, and they gained a bunch of yards, but can you say they dominated? They didn’t pass for 300. They did have nice success running the ball, but somehow it didn’t feel dominant. I guess it was because a lot of the rushing yards were Trent’s. Those yards are nice, but that doesn’t mean the running game is working.

f. The Bills seem to be in love with throwing the ball to Marshawn in the flat. What is that all about? Trent wasn’t dumping the ball to him – he was throwing it to him by design.

4. 121. Passer rating of 121 for Trent Edwards. Talk about feast or famine. Trent still looked inconsistent. The long ball to Evans could not have been better. A couple of the slants were thrown behind the receiver. The overthrow of Robert Royal was, well, it was unbelievable.

Trent definitely was happy to have Reed back. He knows where he can find Reed, and he gets him the ball. Overthrew him once on the deep out route. Found him nicely – Reed did a great job going deep, then pulling up – on that scramble to his right.

Overall, Trent did a nice job passing.

Trent running? To be honest, I wasn’t completely excited about it. First, as noted above, those aren’t the rushing yards we want. Second, the run at the end of the half was a big gamble, because if he didn’t get in, the half was over. He won the gamble, and winners win more than their share of those, so I’ll add that one to the plus column. Then he did it again to open the second half. Then he ran, didn’t slide, got hit and fumbled. Dumb play. The Bills need him in the game. He didn’t, couldn’t slide on the touchdown runs. In the middle of the field, he has to get down.

I think Trent came into the game determined to show he isn’t the guy we watched for the past four weeks, the guy who was losing games instead of winning games. That’s a good thing, of course. I want him to be determined. The Bills need more than that; however; they need him to be smart. Taking hits like a running back isn’t smart.

With all that, of course, his runs were great plays. We’ve known he can run pretty well; he just doesn’t do it much. The Bills thought Trent would have opportunities on the move in this game, and he took advantage of them.

5. Defensive questions:

a. Anyone seen Poz lately? What happened to the tackling machine? Is someone else wearing number 51?

b. Mitchell? Looked to me like he was around a lot of mistakes.

c. And Wilson? I think the guy just has poor cover skills. We saw it all last year. And we saw it on the long touchdown against the Chiefs. Yes, he fell (he fell last year, too). Defensive backs are not supposed to fall. They’re supposed to keep running and get themselves into the play. The ball was underthrown, and it looked like he could have gotten there.

Wilson does a lot of good things. He’s always around the ball when he’s coming forward. He blitzes well. I like the guy. I just think he hurts the Bills in pass defense, and that’s not a good thing for a defensive back.

d. Maybe it just wasn’t all that good a day for the defense.

6. Most amazing takeaway stat of the day was that the Chiefs were #2 in the league in takeaways and had won only one game.

The Ball Burglar, of course, was celebrating. Get those takeaways, win ball games. The Ball Burglar celebrated last April when the Bills took Leodis, and the new gang member made his mark on the field in Kansas City.

The Ball Burglar loves those $2000 days. Bills fans are paying close to $400 per takeaway – and they pay extra for takeaways returned for a TD. So that was the equivalent of a six takeaway game.

The Ball Burglar needs you. He doesn’t want to pay $400 per takeaway to help kids with serious illness. He wants to pay $4000. He’s going to do it with $1 from you, $1 from me, $1 from a lot of Bills fans. It’s easy. Go to, click PLEDGE and make a couple of choices. As the Ball Burglar’s bounty grows, the takeaway totals will grow. The Ball Burglar guarantees it.

7. You just have to get Lee Evans into the game. The guy has the softest hands in the NFL. That catch on the deep ball was beautiful. Full speed, contested, fully extended, and there wasn’t even a hint of a bobble. He wants the ball, he’ll catch the ball, he’ll take hits. One of these days he’s going to take one of those slants to the house. Get him the ball.

8. Is Fred Jackson better than Marshawn Lynch? I don’t think so, but he certainly hits holes more quickly. Marshawn doesn’t pop through the line like Fred does. But Fred can’t carry tacklers like Marshawn can.

Marshawn just wants it. What a player. As much as I’m tired of watching the Bills throw to him in the flat, he does make plays out there, doesn’t he?

I don’t really care who’s better. It’s a very nice one-two combination, so long as the offensive line gives them some room to run. One and two, in whatever order, had themselves a nice day.

9. Did someone say offensive line? I was in a sports bar and couldn’t hear the announcers. But I did notice several close-ups of Jason Peters as penalties were being assessed against the Bills. And Dockery once, too.

I decided not to be too troubled by that. Everyone gets flagged here and there. What the Bills need is run blocking and pass protection, and they’ve been getting it. O-line had a decent day. Needs to be better, but it was a start.

10. As bad as the losing streak looked, I’m now thinking it wasn’t quite all that bad. It’s clear to me now that the Jets are a much better team than I thought. The Bills played them better in Buffalo than the Titans did in Tennessee. The Dolphins are also much better than I thought. And the Pats are pretty good, especially when the refs let Randy Moss hold and push off. The Bills didn’t play well in those games, but they competed. They played those teams better than bad teams play them.

Of course, there’s no excuse for the Browns game. That was just bad.

Good performances by Trent in a couple of these games would have turned losses into wins. Trent’s learning, I hope.

We’ll see which Trent shows up against the 49ers. If Trent and the Bills can put up a good performance, then the Bills will be 7-5 heading into the stretch where they will show how far they’ve actually come. 11-5 or 10-6 is within reach. So is 7-9 or (I can hardly bear to say it) 6-10. I started the season thinking 9-7 would be a successful year. The Bills still should get there.

Welcome to the roller coaster. Enjoy the ride.

Greg's Weekly Picks

Greg’s NFL Week 12 Picks

LAST WEEK: 11-4-1 :: OVERALL: 97-62-1

A tie! Has been 6 years since the last time that happened, and this time, it fooled one of the games best quarterbacks. Have you heard that? Eagles QB Donovan McNabb said after the game that he was unaware that a game could end in a tie. Wow. You’d think that one of the premier players in the league might actually know the rules! (Especially when my seven year old knows that!!)

On to the picks for this week…

Cincinnati (1-8) at Pittsburgh (7-3)

Cincinnati was a bit better than expected, but really… no one expected much anyway. So it wasn’t hard. WINNER: Pittsburgh.

Tampa Bay (7-3) at Detroit (0-10)

It really does seem this team might go 0-16. WINNER: Tampa Bay

Houston (3-7) at Cleveland (4-6)

Game could go either way, but Houston has been more impressive in their mediocrity this season. WINNER: Houston

San Francisco (3-7) at Dallas (6-4)

Remember when this game was a highlight of the NFL season? WINNER: Dallas

Philadelphia (5-4-1) at Baltimore (6-4)

Philly may not know all the rules, but the Ravens looked awful against another NFC East team last week. WINNER: Philadelphia

Minnesota (5-5) at Jacksonville (4-6)

This could be a really good game… two power running teams, and good defenses. Jags are home. Vikes haven’t overly impressed. WINNER: Jacksonville

New England (6-4) at Miami (6-4)

Do you really think Belichick will lose twice to them in one season? WINNER: New England

Tennessee (8-0) at Chicago (5-3)

This game is actually kind of tough to pick. Give the edge to Tennessee because Chicago is starting Rex Grossman. WINNER: Tennessee

Chicago (5-5) at St. Louis (2-8)

St. Louis had three good games… but I don’t expect any more. WINNER: Chicago

NY Jets (7-3) at Tennessee (10-0)

If the J-E-T-S are the “second best” team in the AFC, then the AFC is really, really bad. WINNER: Tennessee

Buffalo (5-5) at Kansas City (1-9)

The Bills finally get a chance to beat up on somebody. WINNER: Buffalo

Oakland (2-8) at Denver (6-4)

Oakland (the players) really is much better than their record, but this game is in Denver (who probably aren’t as good as their record…) WINNER: Denver

Washington (6-4) at Seattle (2-8)

Everyone likes playing the NFC West this year. But I have a funny feeling about this one. WINNER: Seattle

NY Giants (9-1) at Arizona (7-3)

I know the Giants just made the Ravens – a good team – look silly, but I just like the Cards chances. They really do play well at home. (But the Giants play well on the road…) Anyway… WINNER: Arizona

Carolina (8-2) at Atlanta (6-4)

Why are these two teams winning so many games? This one goes to the home team. WINNER: Atlanta

Indianapolis (6-4) at San Diego (4-6)

Manning is just too good to lose to this year’s Chargers. WINNER: Indianapolis

Green Bay (5-5) at New Orleans (5-5)

These teams are both 5-5 for a reason. They’re pretty good, but unpredictable. I’ll probably get this wrong, but going with the home team and the offense. WINNER: New Orleans.


Time for the Bills to get back on track. Chiefs defense is really not great… Bills may have gotten the running game untracked… let’s hope it all comes together!

Go Bills!

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Bills 27 – Browns 29 – 10 Things I Think

This is a team certifiably in trouble. Trouble is everywhere.

1. As I watched Lindell’s kick, I had none of my usual excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation. For me, the game already was over. The outcome didn’t matter – the Bills were lost. The game wasn’t, but the Bills were.

To be the team I thought the Bills could be, they needed to own this game. A last-second win wasn’t what they needed. What they needed was a game where Trent was taking kneel downs before the two-minute warning. That didn’t happen. That wasn’t even a possibility.

At least for now, the naysayers were right. The Bills need a quarterback. The Bills need a leader. The Bills need a coach.

We aren’t watching a slump. We’re watching a bad football team. Good football teams, even average football teams, don’t lose four in a row. Not in this league. This hasn’t been four weeks of bad breaks, bad calls, untimely injuries. This has been four weeks of bad football.

Of course, now there is virtually no hope of making the playoffs. Mathematics aside, it’s simply laughable to think that a team playing like that could even think about the playoffs.

2. Maybe I need to write a separate 10 Things I Think about the coaching. I don’t even know where to start. Try these:

a. I understand the thinking, but it was a mistake to run the ball three times before Lindell’s miss. I thought so at the time, and it’s completely obvious now. The Bills needed one more first down to run out the clock, to get Lindell within gimme range (kicking at that end of the field is always tough – I’m not sure why the Bills weren’t going the other way in the fourth quarter), and to send a message to Trent that they trusted him. Sitting on the ball said “We’re afraid. We’re afraid we won’t get the first down. We’re afraid we’ll turn it over.” Teams that play scared lose.

b. I don’t know the medical report, but I thought all week it was a mistake to play Whitner. Foolish. That’s not a decision that should be based on emotion; it should be based on what’s right for the season. The Bills needed more than one game to make the playoffs; if they couldn’t win this one with Whitner, they weren’t good enough to go anywhere anyway.

c. The Bills abandoned the cover two so they could blitz more. McGee was on an island all night long; so were Greer and McKelvin. The whole game. The coaches completely changed up the defense. Fine – things aren’t going right, change up. So how do you give up a 70-yard touchdown run with your safeties freed up from double coverage assignments?

d. One play the Bills were in the crawl, or whatever they call that defense when you can’t tell who the down linemen are or who’s coming. Ball’s snapped, several guys rush, the back 7 were COMPLETELY unable to get back into their zones – 17 yards to Braylon Edwards. If they can’t play the defense, don’t use it.

e. We can’t the ball to Evans one time? One time? Some time in that game, with the Bills on defense, the coaches have to talk to Lee and Trent and say, okay, next time we have the ball, this is the play we run. Trent, your keys are a,b,c. Look for a, take the snap, look for b, and then, if Lee hasn’t fallen down, THROW HIM THE BALL. No decent coach lets his stars get taken out of the game all together.

I’ll stop. BUT – I seriously question whether these people know how to make a football team win.

3. I thought McGee was outstanding. He had no help all night against a really good receiver, and against a quarterback who didn’t know how to look for anyone else. McGee gave him nothing deep, and he broke up several of the short balls. Yes, he gave up some catches underneath, but he stopped several too. He took on the task and he delivered exactly what the Bills wanted from him.

4. McKelvin looked pretty good, too. I watched him some of the time, and he looked comfortable. I think it was in part because the Bills were playing so much man, it played to his strength. He didn’t have to worry about his zone assignments. He also got the benefit of playing against an inexperienced QB who seems to think he has only one receiver on the team.

The scouting reports were that Leodis has bad hands. Unfortunately, it may be true – he couldn’t handle the diving interception. Still, he played well.

Kick returns, of course, were spectacular.

5. Lindell had what may have been his worst game as a Bill. He has to make that kick. Almost as bad was the 27-yard kickoff out of bounds. Couple that with Mitchell’s unnecessary roughness penalty, and right there the Bills gave up the field goal that probably cost them the game.

The problem with being a kicker is that you don’t get a lot of chances to make plays. When you do, you MUST deliver. Ryan didn’t.

6. There was a new addition to the “fan experience” at the Stadium that actually helped nullify the home-field advantage. Bills’ management understands that excitement means the stadium is noisy. Against Cleveland, they seemed to think that noise meant excitement; they thought that if they piped in noise, there would be more excitement. During TV timeouts, rock ‘n roll was blaring from the loudspeakers. Really loud. Pretty good music, actually.

The problem was that the Bills often were on defense during those timeouts. The music was so loud that the fans couldn’t make noise. Then ESPN would come back from the commercial, and the Browns were out of the huddle and ready to start the play before the music stopped. So the fans had no opportunity to build the pre-snap noise level while the Browns were in the huddle. The fans had no opportunity to shake up a young quarterback.

Put that together with the fact that general poor play dampened everyone’s enthusiasm, and I’d say that from start to finish the fans were loud for less of this game than any other this season.

7. Trent, of course, was awful. Hasn’t anyone told him that he cannot throw a pass eight feet off the ground directly over the head of a 6’5” defensive lineman? Every defensive lineman is taught to get a hand up, and they deflect or knock down those balls. Is he not looking for those guys? He has to. Otherwise, he gets what he got against the Browns – interceptions and incompletions.

What is really disturbing is that he lost his confidence. Again, I put part of the blame on the coaches – if they have a guy on the field who doesn’t have the courage to make the plays, you have to get him off the field. Simple as that. Maybe it’s only for a game, maybe a season, maybe a career. If the guy is afraid to make the throws, what’s the point of playing him?

You could see it. After the first quarter, he more or less didn’t look downfield.

One time in the fourth quarter, Lee had coverage underneath and on top. He ran 8-10 yards upfield and cut over the middle. The underneath guy was beat. The on-top guy wasn’t going to be able break up a 15 yard completion. He looked like he was open; maybe there was someone else in a shallow zone that I didn’t see. The crowd – get this – the CROWD, including me, yelled “LEE!” You could actually hear what must have been 15,000 people yell “LEE!” Trent didn’t throw it.

Easily his worst performance as a pro. He has regressed badly.

People have begun speculating that the concussion continues to be a factor. Maybe. Whatever; his isn’t playing nearly well enough to win.

8. Among the bad tendencies this defense has:

a. Give up one really long touchdown drive, more or less every game.

b. Give up just enough yards for the opponent to get into field goal range, over and over.

c. Give up a big play.

9. Special teams (except for Lindell) were special. When we really needed, when they finally kicked one to Roscoe – bang! – a big return. As great a McKelvin’s returns were, a lot of the credit goes to the rest of the receiving team. McKelvin was simply a talented return man taking advantage of the opportunities the team continued to present to him. I’m not putting him down, not at all. He did a great job. But mostly what he did was use his speed and ability to change direction to use the space the blockers created for him.

The really cool play was the Browns’ final kickoff. They weren’t going to kick deep to McKelvin – he’d hurt them too badly and they just couldn’t chance it again. April knew it. So what did he do? He had McKelvin deep, Jackson at the 20 and Roscoe at the 40. The Browns did the squib kick. It looked like Roscoe would get it, but it bounced over his head, right into Fred’s arms. Fred took it back for great field position to start the final drive. April knew they wouldn’t take a chance kicking toward the sideline – they had to go up the middle – to Roscoe, Fred or Leodis. Great move.

Special teams delivered great field position all night long.

10. I went to the game with an old friend, a great football fan who hasn’t seen the Bills play much the last two seasons. Early in the game, he asked me if Marshawn was any good. I told him yes. By the end of the game, he was sold.

What a performance! Simply magnificent. The run to set up the last touchdown was one of the best runs I’ve even seen on a football field. Not flashy, not necessarily highlight reel material, but he just kept making something out of nothing, for 30 yards.

And the touchdown run off the short pass! How he knew to cut back into the flow the defense, I do not know. He ran right into harm’s way, but he knew he could get in.

The Bills have been wasting that man’s skills for the better part of one and a half seasons. It was great to see them block well enough to get him going. It was absolutely terrible to watch the Bills waste that performance.

Is the only way the Bills can run the ball is to have the crummiest passing game in the league? Seems like they can only do one thing well per game.

This team needs help. Where they need it is on the sidelines. These are good players, and they should be winning.

See you here next week.

Don’t forget – The Ball Burglar is on the move, even it the Bills aren’t getting takeaways. We’re closing in on $400 per takeaway. Add your buck or two for every takeaway at Thanks.


I’m not suggesting Losman is the answer, but Edwards seems to suck

Before I start the QB debate up again, I thought I’d touch on a few points about this team.

1. This team is not a playoff team. The defense could be in the playoffs as could the special teams, but this offense has no place in the playoffs. However if they win the rest of their games, they still have a decent shot at a wild card.

2. No. Coach contracts are not binding. Jauron could be fired tomorrow with no penalty. I doubt that the Bills will do it, but Jauron has no job security regardless of whether there was a contract extension.

3.Last night the Bills showed what it would be like if they had an effective offensive line. Clearly they have the runningback talent and need not worry there. But don’t get excited about the line being good again, the Browns have a horrible defense. The Bills line will look good against Kansas City too, but will suck again when they face better teams. This is still a concern area.

4. Bobby April has what it takes to be a head coach. The Bills team needs a fire lit under it and if they were to make a mid-season move to fire Jauron (which they won’t), April would be the ideal guy to promote as interim and hopefully as the permanent coach (Marv was a Special teams guy first too, Special Teams is tough to coach because you are constantly getting your personnel jerked around). One way to smooth this transition would be to move Jauron into a director of Pro Personnel position. I think Jauron has done a great job finding talented players and is a benefit to the organization, but not at head coach.

5. The much maligned 2008 draft class is starting to show signs of life. Fans should give these young players a bit more than half a season before they call them busts.

6. Marshawn Lynch is clearly talented but needs to stick to the play more. He contributed to the missed field goal on the last play prior to the kick by trying to roll it out to the left side. He didn’t get any additional yards, but did cause the ball to be positioned on the far left hash (most likely spot to kick wide right from). Had he stuck to the play it would have been an easier kick for Lindell. The play call was up the middle for a reason.

7. I don’t think you can blame the coaches for bad play calling when there are wide open receivers that the QB didn’t try to throw to. Lee Evans was wide open most of the day but never even had a ball thrown to him. The coaches on this team call effective plays pretty often but the team fails to execute. So it really comes back to the coaches failing to get the team prepared for the game.

And so it comes down to the Quarterback. Once again. Trent Edwards has stunk pretty bad for most of the season, putting up small yards and few TDs even when he was playing his best. People seem to be determined to make every excuse for the kid, but the bottom line is that Edwards is Trent Dilfer good, or maybe Chad Pennington good. Not Tom Brady, Joe Montana or any of the other rediculous comparisons that have been drawn. Hand picking the stats of 3 or 4 great Quarterbacks and assuming Edwards will be good because his first 16 games were similar is actually pretty rediculous. One need only look at Cleveland’s Derek Anderson to know that 1 season does not make a career no matter how good your stats are. There are a great many more failed quarterbacks who had similar first year stats than successful ones. All that aside, Edwards stats aren’t even that good.

Could all of you folks out there who think Trent Edwards is the second coming of Montana please explain why? Even when he was playing his best, his numbers were average. His only impressive stat is completion percentage, which really doesn’t matter that much if most of the passes are so short that they are followed by a punt. Here are Trent’s career numbers with some notable extras:
Trent Edwards Career: 331 for 540 (61.3%), 3623 yards, 10.945 yards per completion, 6.7 yards per attempt, TDs 15 INTs 18 Sack 32, Rating 76.5
In 20 Starts (and a some assorted other playing time) Edwards has 2 games with more than one TD (miami 2007 he had 4, and Giants 2007 he had 2, which means in his other 18 games he had 9 TD passes, or half a TD per game).
Trent Edwards has never thrown for 300 yards in a contest.
Edwards has thrown for less than 200 yards 12 times. Or 60% of the time.
Edwards has thrown more INTs than TDs in 9 games (nearly half)
Edwards has had a QB rating below 60 in 6 games.
Edwards had ALL DAY to throw against the Browns and still sucked it up.
Edwards worst performances have been against division opponents (particularly the pats) and in cold weather. He has not had a good performance yet in cold weather.

To add fuel to the fire, Here are JP Losman’s career numbers:
510 for 858 (59.4%) 5847 yards, 11.46 yards per completion, 6.82 yards per attempt, TDs 32 INT 30, Sack 93, Rating 77.9
In other words, Losman is better in every category except completion percentage (where he is actually very close) and sacks which are as much a reflection of the miserable offensive line the first couple years of Losman’s career than anything.
Losman had a 101.3 QB rating in his only appearance this season (most of the arizona game) despite how he “looked in the pocket”. San Diego and Jacksonville were the only two games where Edwards broke 100 QB rating.
Losman has had 7 Multi TD games and broke 300 yards in 2 games. He has also thrown for under 200 yards 22 times out of 32.

I don’t know that Losman is the answer, but if the problem with Losman was that he struggled with his short passes, that’s a lot easier to fix than Edwards inability to throw beyond 10 yards. Yes he has pulled it off on a few rare occasions, but you will never see that beautiful rainbow shaped arc to Evans from Edwards. He can’t even find him. At least you knew Losman would hit the number 1 receiver. The biggest difference between these two QBs is that when the pass rush gets in their face, Edwards tries to hold his ground while Losman starts running (sometimes with disastrous consequences). What is missing in Losman’s game is teachable and can come with time, there is no reason to think Edwards will magically get arm strength and accuracy beyond 10 yards.

The other “big” difference is that fans seem to think Edwards has (had?) great pocket presence, or the intangible aspect of football. It looked that way at first but it would be hard to say that about him after the last 4 weeks. He has looked confused even when he has tons of time. He misses open receivers, doesn’t go through his progressions. Maybe its because of the concussion, but more likely it is merely because he is inexperienced and, at this point, not very good. Edwards may look more in control in the pocket, but the bottom line is this, give Losman 50 plays and Edwards 50 plays and Losman will gain more yards and throw more TDs.

More likely, the answer lies in the draft, or in free agency, this crop of QB’s has a long way to go. A few wins against weak teams is nothing to be excited about.

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Greg's Weekly Picks

Greg’s NFL Week 11 Picks

LAST WEEK: 10-4 :: OVERALL: 86-58

Another full week for me has made me question how I ever thought I could post an NFL picks article every week? 🙂 But, here are the picks I made for week eleven. Week ten went very well, and week eleven is off to a good start (1-0) … maybe this is the week I go 16-0? Let’s hope so!

Here are the picks:

NY Jets (6-3) at New England (6-3)
Denver (5-4) at Atlanta (6-3)
Baltimore (6-3) at NY Giants (8-1)
Minnesota (5-4) at Tampa Bay (6-3)
Oakland (2-7) at Miami (5-4)
Detroit (0-9) at Carolina (7-2)
Philadelphia (5-4) at Cincinnati (1-8)
Chicago (5-4) at Green Bay (4-5)
New Orleans (4-5) at Kansas City (1-8)
Houston (3-6) at Indianapolis (5-4)
St. Louis (2-7) at San Francisco (2-7)
Arizona (6-3) at Seattle (2-7)
Tennessee (9-0) at Jacksonville (4-5)
San Diego (4-5) at Pittsburgh (6-3)
Dallas (5-4) at Washington (6-3)
Cleveland (3-6) at Buffalo (5-4)


A couple games of interest in week 11… definitely Baltimore at NY Giants (a Super Bowl rematch) should be a great defensive game. I expect the Ravens to stun NFL fans by pulling out the victory there. In previous years, Tennessee at Jacksonville would be a great game, I just don’t know which Jags team will show up. Obviously the MNF game is exciting to Bills fans… will we finally see another Bills win? Dallas @ Washington features the return of Tony Romo… should be a good game. Also, San Diego at Pittsburgh could be an exciting AFC matchup.

But in the end… all that needs to be said is…

Go Bills!

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AFC East Schedule

AFC East: Best Division in Football?

If you just look at records, a good argument can be made for the AFC East being the best division in football. Tonight’s battle for first place between the Jets and Patriots being decided by a field goal in overtime is evidence of just how good all the teams in this division might be.

It’s conceivable that at the end of this weekend the Jets could have a one-game lead over all three other teams in the division. And it doesn’t stop there. Take a look at the remaining games for each of the four teams:

(Remaining Opponent’s Records in Parentheses)
JETS: @ Ten, Den, @ SF, Buf, @ Sea, Mia (28-25)
PATS: @ Mia, Pit, @ Sea, @ Oak, Ari, @ Buf (25-28)
FINS: Oak, NE, @ StL, @ Buf (Tor), SF, @ KC, @ NYJ (20-34)
BILLS: Cle, @ KC, SF, Mia (Tor), @ NYJ, @ Den, NE (22-32)

The Dolphins would seem to have the easiest remaining schedule of all four of the teams. But they also have four remaining road games, as do the Patriots. The Bills have three actual road games left, but most consider one of the remaining home games a virtual away game, as it will be played in Toronto, Canada.

A quick glance at the remaining schedules, taking into account how the four teams have played so far, it is not unreasonable to say that each team in this division could actually finish with ten wins!

The Jets already have seven, and they play Denver at home (whose defense is horrendous), and road games against two of the NFC West teams that currently sport 2 wins and 7 losses. Those games alone should get them to ten wins on the season.

The Patriots have been playing really well under their fill-in quarterback. (And their fill-in running backs, for that matter.) They should be favored to win their two West coast road games against Oakland and Seattle. The other five games could be tough, but it would be hard to see the Patriots losing three of those five.

While it is just incredible that the Dolphins actually have a winning record 10 weeks into the season, they have earned it. They are playing hard, and they are using the talent they have to its fullest potential. Don’t expect that to stop. They get to play Oakland, St. Louis, Kansas City and San Francisco. It’s still a little hard to believe, but, the team who had one win last season should win all four of those. That is nine wins, and it seems the Fins might grab one of the three division games they have remaining.

The Bills have their share of “easy” opponents as well, starting with the Cleveland Browns this Monday. The Browns have been up and down all year, but do not have a very strong defense, and are starting a quarterback who has only played one NFL game. The home-field advantage on Monday Night, coupled with the Bills fired up to break out of this 3-game losing streak should give the Bills the win this week, and then they have Kansas City and San Francisco, as well as a game against the Broncos who have struggled. That would give them, quite possibly, 10 wins on the season.

Factoring in what we know now, I’m predicting the division will end up like this:

NY Jets 11-5
Buffalo 11-5
New England 9-7
Miami 9-7

I know I said that everyone could have 10 wins, but honestly I think the Dolphins and Patriots will have a harder time reaching that goal. Although, it is very, very possible. And, the only way the Bills end up with 11 wins is if they rediscover their run game, and bring balance back to their offense. (A little pass rush wouldn’t hurt either!)

The division goes to the Jets (even if the Bills win the rematch) thanks to their likely 4-2 division record (beating Miami in the final game of the season) with the best possible AFC East record for the Bills being 3-3.

That three-game winless stretch against the East was a crushing blow, even with a half-season remaining.

But in the end, a division with a 40-24 record would be pretty amazing. Considering last year (even with the historic 16-0 Patriots) the division was a meager 28-36!

This race should come down to the final weekend with both AFC East matchups playing a crucial role in the Division title and the Wild Card berth.

That is why they play the games!

(Footnote: The final division standing above could be quite different if the Pats beat the Steelers (I think Pittsburgh should win), and if the Dolphins can beat the Jets in the final game of the season. If that happens, it could be like this:

Buffalo 11-5
Miami 10-6
New England 10-6
NY Jets 10-6

Not sure who would win the tie-breakers between NY and NE. Head-to-head, Division, and Conference records would likely be the same. It’s gonna be a fun finish! End footnote.)


Bills 10 – Pats 20 – 10 Things I Think

Well, that was bad, but not as bad as I feared.

1. First to last in the division in three weeks. Lose three division games while all three teams in the division are going 3-0. That’s as bad a stretch as you can have. The only possible good news is that the division may actually be stronger than I thought. Maybe the Jets are one of the really good teams in the league. I think the Pats are very good. The Bills played them both close.

How’s that for looking for a silver lining? But it may be true.

Even though the Bills played them close, they never seemed to be in the games. This team needs help; it has players but it needs help.

2. The defense. The defense isn’t bad. It just isn’t all that good. It’s 14th in the league in pass defense, and they gave the Pats just over the average yards the Bills are giving up. It’s 12th in the league in rushing defense, and they gave up a little more rushing yards than the Pats, one of the league’s good running teams, ordinarily gets. They’re 13th in the league in scoring defense, and they gave up less than their average to the Pats. And the numbers are much better than last season; 31st in yards per game last year, 14th this year. 18th in points per game last year.

The fact is, on Sunday this defense performed on its averages, more or less, on the road against a good team.

The problem is that this defense doesn’t make plays. One takeaway isn’t enough, for the Bills or for the Ball Burglar. The two most important drives of the game – after the opening kickoff, and after the punt in the fourth quarter, the defense could not get off the field. Winning teams need someone to step up at important times in the game. It happened early in the season, but now that the games really count, it isn’t happening.

I don’t think it’s the injuries. Whitner doesn’t get the Bills off the field. Schobel doesn’t.

This defense is loaded with players who are good at playing their positions, but none of them ever does more than that. Every team needs more some of the time, and the Bills need more. Nobody is giving it to them.

3. Looks like what the coaches were saying about McKelvin is right. He’s a serious return man. It was particularly nice to see him break one when it counted. You can say it was garbage time if you want, but the Pats play 60 minutes. The only way the Pats were going to lose that game at that point was to give up a big kick return, so McKelvin’s return wasn’t because the Pats weren’t paying attention. It was a quality return, as was the earlier return.

Before people start screaming that a first round pick has to do more, well, yes, but it’s still early. He’s learning. McGee returned kicks well before he played corner well, too.

4. Trying to stay positive: the offensive line is starting to look more like last year’s offensive line. That is, they protect the quarterback pretty well. They gave up two sacks, and Trent got hit a few times, but by and large Trent had time. Against a clever Pats defense, they did a nice job.

But they can’t run block. Can’t. Pitiful. Those are good running backs the Bills put back there. Every bit as good as running backs on the best teams. Every bit as good as BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Both of our backs gain yards, when they have SOMEPLACE to go.

Individual plays that troubled me: Dockery and Peters got absolutely scorched on a stunt the Pats ran. The Bills get beaten on stunts all the time. They can’t slide and find the man coming around. They haven’t done it all year. In the Giants-Eagles game, I saw what I think was the RIGHT guard pull and run behind the line of scrimmage outside the LEFT tackle to pick up a defensive tackle who was looping all the way around the defensive line. Dockery and Peters couldn’t simply hand off two payers side by side.

Chambers got mowed down on one play shown on the replays – completely off balance and leveraged.

Peters had his obligatory penalty.

The Bills have to do something about the line. They haven’t solved this problem.

5. Trent is a second-year quarterback. The first INT was really poorly thrown. Did he misjudge the wind? The second INT, as they showed on the replay, was a play where he read the defense wrong. I’d guess Belichick drew that one up. Trent has to learn to see the field better. He will. Plus, every QB makes mistakes. McNabb made his fair share last night. Favre did against the Bills. You’re going to make mistakes. But Trent still has to play better.

What troubled me more was that his accuracy abandoned him Threw behind Hardy. Threw behind Roscoe. Led Marshawn too much in the flat.

And he threw too late to Royal on a big third down.

Trent isn’t getting it done. That’s okay if he’s learning. Jauron says he is. I’m from Missouri.

6. The entire offense did not get it done. For the third consecutive week, the offense was anemic. Not enough sustained drives, not enough points. 10 points a game does not win.

7. Hardy is like a lot of tall receivers running after the catch – he doesn’t. Moss, Burress, even Owens, go down easily. That third down pass Hardy caught might have been a first down if he would just turn upfield, running hard and driving into the tackler. He didn’t do that, and probably never will. He isn’t Josh Reed. But that’s not why the Bills drafted him. (By the way, I’m sure the Bills miss Reed. Reed is one of those guys who makes plays in crunch time.)

Hardy’s TD was sweet. Nice plays by Trent and Hardy. Too little, too late, but a nice play and something to build on.

8. Violence. Give me some violence. I have to believe that these players can hit people with authority, instead of simply executing picture-book tackles. This is a violent game, and violent players make winners. I’m not seeing much violence. Watch the Giants-Eagles. Watch the Colts-Steelers. Our guys are trying to make tackles. Their guys are trying to make hits.

The best hit by the Bills all day was Simpson’s hit on Moss. By the way, compare the unnecessary roughness penalty on that hit to the non-call when Wilfork mowed down Edwards after Edwards released a pass. It was, in my mind, the same play – defender going full speed about to apply the hit (in Simpson’s case, not knowing whether Moss would get his hands on the ball). Defender follows through with the hit. One team got flagged.

9. I have to ask if these coaches know how to win. As each goes by, it becomes more clear that the coaches are the weak link.

I have to believe that there is a way to get Marshawn and Fred the ball in space.

I have to believe that there is a way find Hardy more than once a game.

I have to believe these offensive linemen actually can move the defense.

I have to believe that the offense can be tricked up some way from week, rather than looking so absolutely predictable.

I have to believe that the defense can attack the offense, some way, some how. I have to believe they can be more aggressive, they can blitz (when’s the last time the Bills brought a DB on the pass rush?).

I have to believe that the Bills can play with the kind of heart that it takes to actually WIN important games, not just stay within a touchdown or so of the winner.

Here’s what I saw in the paper this morning:

Jauron said “They’re a very, very talented team, a well-coached team, and they beat us.”

Every week Jauron says we have to eliminate mistakes and get better. Well, maybe he needs to watch that game again. The Bills didn’t lose on mistakes – the Bills lost because series after series, the Pats were better. They made runs, they found open receivers, they stopped runs. They were better. The Bills need to be better.

In his Monday press conference Jauron said it’s a tough division, because all three teams play the 3-4; they give you a lot of different looks and it’s difficult to adjust. Well, if that’s true, why is it that the Bills are playing this passive 4-3 that Tom Brady – er, no, that wasn’t Tom Brady – and Brett Favre and Chad Pennington can pick apart? I mean, I don’t know which is a better defense, but if you want me to believe that it’s tough to win against a 3-4, I’d like to know why we aren’t in it.

Dick is talking about how good the other guys are. I’m concerned that Dick doesn’t get it. Hey, at least Mora would scream “PLAYOFFS?? PLAYOFFS???” and Singletary would drop his pants. Dick says “We played hard. They’re a good football team.” Well, I say screw that. Who cares if you played hard and you LOST? Everyone plays hard. The point is to make the OTHER guy say “the Bills are a good football team.”

One of my favorite quotes is attributed to George Patton. It’s something like this: “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Fortunately, people aren’t dying on football fields. Unfortunately, for the Bills, it feels like they are. They need a general out front leading them. I don’t see Jauron in that role.

Kawika Mitchell said: “We thought we were on the verge of changing the culture around the clubhouse. It comes down to believing you can beat your guy out there in every situation, and the last three weeks I’m not sure we’ve had that.” He will not throw his coach under the bus. Maybe the players on their own can get themselves to the emotional place where they need to be, but I think they need a coach who says more than “we need to get better.”

10. Contrast Jauron with Belichick, who I believe is the best coach in the history of football. Look at this quote from Ellis Hobbs: “We know how to prepare. We know how to make adjustments on the fly. We know how to handle the pressure.”
James Sanders (safety) said: “We were a very physical team today. We kept everything in front of us, beat up their receivers and our front seven stopped the run.”

What are we, punching bags. Do the Bills go out on the field so other teams can beat them up?

Belichick gets the entire game. His guys play with heart, desire, violence and intelligence. The Bills play with heart and probably desire. The Patriots look prepared every week; the Bills have looked prepared once in the last five games.

Now, everyone has trouble beating Belichick, so I’m not totally depressed. Right now I’m wondering if Jauron can beat anyone.

Okay, for the fourth week in a row, the Bills face a big game. A lot is on the line. I hope the fans will be into it, but I’ll certainly understand if they’re a little hesitant. The Bills haven’t been giving them much to cheer about.

Ball Burglar Totals: 12 takeaways so far this year, with two returned for touchdowns. The Burglar’s Bounty is up over $360 per takeaway – that’s over $6,800 raised for charity this year. All raised by Bills fans like you and me, pledging a buck or two for every takeaway the Bills get. Add your buck to the total today – just go to, click “Pledge” and follow the directions. It’ll only take a minute, and you’ll be glad you did. Thanks.


Hi, I am Dave Drake and I am a Bill’s fan…

The 12 steps to fix our slump:

1. Admit that we are powerless over losing and our play is unmanageable (Yes, Jason Peters you must admit we are not a good running team).
2. Came to believe that a new head coach could restore our winning ways.
3. Make a decision to turn our playbooks over to proven successful coaches.
4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of our over-paid underperforming starters.
5. Admit to the commish, the fans the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to let a new head coach remove the defects of our football team.
7. Humbly ask Mr. President to remove this team’s shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all the fans we had harmed and make amends to them. (This would be done by a playoff berth.)
9. Made direct amends to such fans wherever possible (like winning a Super Bowl).
10. Continue to take team inventory and when we hire bad coaches and draft bad players admit we were wrong and promptly get rid of them.
11. Sought through hard hitting and big plays to improve our division record.
12. Having had a organizational transformation we tried to carry this message to fans who desperately want to win a Super Bowl.