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Buffalo Bills Review: Week 2

These Bills took the phrase "Squish the Fish" quite literally! The Defense was dominant in Week 2 against Miami.

These Bills took the phrase “Squish the Fish” quite literally! The Defense was dominant in Week 2 against Miami.

Good Stuff

The Bills were dominant on Sunday. I predicted as much, but it was nice to see it actually happen. The defense was stifling, only giving up ten points (and that, aided by questionable calls by the officials) to a team who scored 33 points one week earlier!

Special teams was also dominant: punt block, kick return TD, punts downed inside the 20-yard-line, and 17 points from the kicker! CJ Spiller was named the AFC Special Teams player of the week (Dan Carpenter received that honor in Week One!).

The offense is not half-bad, either, with EJ Manuel leading the league in completion percentage of passes of 20 yards or more in the air. (Yes, leading the league!) Sammy Watkins was wide open much of the day, and looked very worth the trade up to get him. (He was also named Rookie of the Week for Week 2!)

Another good thing about this Bills team is the way they respond. In the Bears game, whenever Chicago would come back to tie up the score, the Bills had an answer. Miami scored two times in the second half to get within six points of the Bills, but both times the Bills answered to extend their lead. (The second time they never looked back.)

This all happened on a day when Ralph Wilson Jr. was immortalized on his Wall of Fame in gold letters, Jim Kelly received a 90-second standing ovation, and every Buffalo football fan was euphoric from the news that a local family (with loads of cash) will be buying the team and keeping them here forever! (Or close to it…)

It was a GOOD week.

Bad Stuff

The Bills were dominant for the whole game, but they still had some trouble scoring in the Red Zone. The plays were there (two passes that could have, should have, gone for scores were missed or dropped). It will happen, but settling for field goals will not work against better offensive teams.

The only other bad might be injuries, but the good news there is that the Bills are one of the healthiest teams in the NFL so far this season. (When was the last time we said that?!) Sammy Watkins looks hurt every time he touches the ball, but he’s still making lots of plays. So it’s not that bad, right?

The Refs deserve honorable mention here with many questionable calls on the Dolphins only scoring drive. But… we won. So who cares?

Newsy Stuff


The nominees for the 2015 NFL Hall of Fame class were announced this week. More than a hundred names from football’s near and distant past, and several of them have ties to the Buffalo Bills. All-time favorites like Cornelius “Biscuit” Bennett, Darryl Talley, Steve Tasker and Fred Smerlas made the list, as did the late Kent Hull, who does not receive as much credit as perhaps he should for the success of those Bills teams of the 1990s. (Maybe he now will?)

Here are the nominees with Buffalo connections:

  • LB Cornelius Bennett
  • C Kent Hull
  • HC Chuck Knox
  • HC Lou Saban
  • NT Fred Smerlas
  • LB Chris Spielman
  • LB Darryl Talley
  • ST Steve Tasker
  • CB Troy Vincent
  • NT Ted Washington

In other news:

  1. The Bills are favored by 2.5 points over the “apparent favorite” Chargers. Due to their much greater success over the recent past, as well as last week’s win over Seattle (by 9 points) most are picking the visiting Chargers to win over the also-undefeated Buffalo Bills. But Las Vegas had them as 1-point favorites to start the week, and that has only increased all week, to the 2.5-point spread here on Friday night.
  2. The Chargers lost their starting RB Ryan Matthews for a few weeks, and have a list of players who were limited or did not practice this week that include several starters on the offensive line. The Bills on the other hand will be missing only two or three players this week, and have been relatively injury-free so far this season. That’s a welcome change from the past decade, or so, where it seems Buffalo generally has the worst of the injury bug in the whole of the NFL!

Crazy Stuff

Speaking of injuries… how crazy is it that Eric Wood was once thought of as injury-prone, but now we don’t give him a second thought as the rock, the core of the Bills rather solid offensive line? Crazy!

And how about all the hullaballoo regarding the ineptitude of the Bills starting QB before this season. Calls for EJ Manuel‘s head (or at least his position on the roster) were frequently and vociferously shouted wherever they might be heard. But after two weeks of arguably much more than “game management” (see stat above, and his 7.8 yards/attempt) Manuel has almost completely silenced his critics—after just two weeks! Crazy!

Up Next: San Diego Chargers

369px-San_Diego_Chargers_logo.svgThe Chargers just beat the Seahawks. (Yes, those Seahawks.) It took a nearly-perfect game from their offense, but it worked, and they won. Can they do that here? They were 5-3 on the road last year, including many wins in the Eastern US. And they won a playoff game in Cincy. They’re not afraid of the eastern time zone.

The Chargers will definitely be a challenge. Philip Rivers has a greater than two to one touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio over his career, and I believe last year threw 32 TDs to only 11 INTs. That’s impressive. He is definitely no Jay Cutler (who is happy to share the ball with his opponents). But the bottom line from my view of their win last week: they were nearly flawless. Seattle didn’t play badly, San Diego made every play they had a chance to make. That does not happen every week. It really can’t.

This game is important. Later in the year, we might be kicking ourselves if we don’t get this win at home against a team we will likely be battling for a wild card spot. (Unless we win our division of course!)

Buffalo’s defense, at home, with a mistake-free offense… (the Chargers apparently have a very good run defense, so it will be interesting to see what Buffalo’s very good run offense can do against them) the Bills have a great chance of taking advantage of this September game on their home field and finishing with the victory, going 3-0 for the second time since 2011.

(More on the differences between 2011 and 2014 next week, if in fact my prediction is accurate…)

Bills Win: 31-27

This may be a weekly series of very short reviews of the Buffalo Bills 2014 season, game by game. Or it may not. Stay tuned!

Articles Current Bills

Buffalo Bills Review: Week 1

Fred Jackson Stiff Arm
This may be the start of a weekly series of very short reviews of the Buffalo Bills 2014 season, game by game. Or it may not. Stay tuned!

Good Stuff

The 2014 Buffalo Bills did not impress in their extended preseason preview. EJ Manuel looked mediocre at best, the starting offense couldn’t score, there were rumors of turmoil between the head coach and nearly everyone in the organization, and outsiders questioned whether the defense could withstand offseason losses (Byrd, Alonso, and Pettine).

That’s why the overtime win in Chicago Sunday was even more impressive. We saw good things. EJ Manuel was definitely competent. Not just completions, but looking off defenders. He ran in a score. He threw another. He threw down the field, just missing Sammy Watkins deep down the left sideline. His receivers helped. His offensive line helped, allowing only one sack. The running backs were all as good as we thought they would be.

Best of all, as Kyle Williams said this week, this team was resilient. Bad calls by the referees, mistakes by teammates, letting leads slip away, several unproductive offensive series in a row—none of that daunted this team who came up with big plays in all phases when it mattered. And they won.

Quick honorable mention in the Good Stuff for P Colton Schmidt. Who? Exactly! This “new guy” came in and had a net average of 43.2 yards/punt on the day, downed 4 inside the 20. He was amazing, actually. (Second honorable mentions go to the rest of the special teams: big FGs by Dan “Nailed It” Carpenter, many booming kickoffs by Jordan Gay, and a fantastic (and fun) DOUBLE tackle (took out two guys!) by Marcus Easley.)

Bad Stuff

Honestly (and strangely) there was not much “bad stuff”. You could say EJ’s one interception, but they still won the game. Fred Jackson muffed a punt, but picked it right back up. The defense allowed 41% conversion on third downs—Chicago got lots of first downs, and plenty of yards—but, the Bills won the game.

One thing that qualified as “Bad” in this game was the calls be the refs. Many PIs that should have been non-calls. And the strangest one of all was the holding penalty that was called back. Huh? Yes. That’s what Kyle Williams said. (He had a lot to say!) The ref threw the flag (at Williams’ back) and then they decided, nah… let’s not call it. That gave the Bears life, and sent the game to OT. Yikes.

Kim & Terry Pegula - Bills and Sabres Owners

Newsy Stuff

You already know the news this week! The Bills have a new owner! Her name is Kim Pegula! Well, OK, it’s Kim & Terry Pegula. I keep reading that Kim will be more than a little involved in the business operation of the team (maybe the primary person?) so, that’s interesting. The Pegulas are most beloved by Buffalo sports fans for their swooping in and purchasing the Buffalo Sabres two years ago, and resuscitating that team. Billions of dollars, a deep, lifetime love of Buffalo sports, and a commitment to win the Stanley Cup (and now the Lombardi Trophy) will do that to a sports fan base!

In other news: the Bills were ranked near the bottom of most Power Rankings prior to Week 1, but after their road win in Chicago (and looking pretty decent as they did the winning) they have moved up in most polls to the high teens. Not a bad jump! Let’s see what happens after week 2 and the home opener against Miami!

Crazy Stuff

When Terry Pegula, life-long Sabres fan, became the owner of that same team, he began bringing in famous names from the team’s past to help run the organization. Former coach, Ted Nolan, is back coaching the team. Beloved Hall of Fame center, Pat Lafontaine, was brought in to run hockey operations.

Wouldn’t it be crazy if… he did the same thing with the Bills?

Jim Kelly—as he regains his health—is given a more active role with the franchise. Bill Polian is brought back to build another dynasty. Players like Jim Haslett, Fred Smerlas, and Darryl Talley bring some of their fire back the Bills on the sidelines and elsewhere.

It’s not actually that crazy…

Up Next: Miami Dolphins (Home Opener!)

dolphins-logoOK, so we have a new owner… check. We have a greatly revamped stadium, hosting its first regular season game and crowd… check. We have perhaps the all-time favorite Bill scheduled to make his first appearance at a game since being declared cancer-free (for the second time), maybe even leading the team onto the field… check!

The Bills will also be honoring deceased former owner, Ralph Wilson, at the game, and, oh yeah… they’re pretty pumped up from that solid win last week on the road!

The Dolphins don’t stand a chance!

The Bills beat the Fins twice last year, both times with third-string QB, Thad Lewis. For some reason, Buffalo’s defense always seems to easily handle Miami QB, Ryan Tannehill. With all the emotion and enthusiasm and excitement coursing through the veins of the Bills defense in the home opener Sunday, I expect lots of pressure, several sacks, and a few takeaways. The Bills running game always excels against Miami, too, and with nearly 200 yards against the Bears last week, they are primed for another great showing against the Dolphins this weekend.

Really. It shouldn’t even be close.

Buffalo Wins: 34-7

Go Bills!

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The 2014 Buffalo Bills Season Preview


The Bills say, “It’s Our Time”—but is it? Will #14 (4th round draft pick, Sammy Watkins) help end the 14-year playoff drought in 2014?

These questions will be answered in a few months. Some say they are already answered. (Those people need a hug.)

A Review: 2013

To correctly set up the game-by-game predictions below, it seems appropriate to review last year’s predictions. Overall, my predictions were a respectable 9-7. Nine were correct, seven were wrong.

The breakdown is interesting. First, I was two for nine in the first half, and then rattled off seven straight correct picks in the last seven weeks. Impressive! (Except for that first part…)

Even more interesting to me is that I was slightly better at predicting the Bills’ losses than wins. (I suppose that is greatly aided by the Bills giving me ten losses in sixteen games to “get right”. Ugh…)

Well, let’s see if this year will be any better.

2014 season preview

@ Chicago – L (0-1)

Not the way you want to start a season. Especially with rumors of unrest and locker room turmoil, and new ownership on its way, and the angst surrounding the trade up for Sammy Watkins. But the Bears have a really good offense. Two great receivers. A QB who can throw TDs—but he’s also really amazing at throwing the ball to the other team, too. Buffalo’s strongest unit is their defense, which seems to have improved in 2014, despite “losing” Jairus Byrd (they let him go) and the injury to Kiki Alonso. The Bills’ offense is not too shabby, either, and Chicago’s defense has been suspect. Expect lots of points in this game; scores in the mid-to-high 20s for both teams, and higher. But I think the Bears get the win on the last drive or last play.

Miami – W (1-1)

Well, there’s nothing like a Miami home opener to right the ship! It’s always fun when Miami comes to Buffalo in December, but the home opener against the Fins is probably the second best choice. Miami does have some talent (Mike Wallace, Lamar Miller, Knowshon Moreno, and a very solid defense) but Buffalo, at home, in the opener… the Bills should shine, all the way to a 10-point (or more) victory.

San Diego – W (2-1)

This one is hard to pick before I see the Chargers play. I like San Diego this year as one of the better teams in the AFC. The good news for the Bills is, the AFC is fairly weak this year. The Chargers can score points, but maybe not against the Bills rock-solid defense. Pressure, takeaways, stopping the run—all may lead to a Bills victory. Not to mention the home crowd. Pumped up after the division win the week prior, I expect the Bills can outlast the Chargers who travel across the country—after playing the defending Champion Seahawks the week before—to play in Orchard Park.

@ Houston – W (3-1)

This one is also hard to pick. Best part of this game for Bills fans will be facing former starting QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who (along with his beard) remains a Bills fan favorite. The Texans have some great pieces on offense and defense. But, they were the worst team in the league last year. Will Fitz be able to get the ball to their offensive weapons? Will the Bills offense be able to handle Watt and Jadeveon Clowney (and the rest!)? I really don’t know. My gut says Fitz throws a crucial pick late in this game, and the Bills eke out the victory. I’m going with my gut.

@ Detroit – L (3-2)

In the offseason, the Bills lost their stellar defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, but shortly after they gained former Lions HC Jim Schwartz. The defense does not seem to have missed a beat. Schwartz knows defense, and of course, he knows the Lions. With that advantage, there is a chance the Bills can sneak out of Detroit with the win, but I think the Bills find a way to lose this road game: EJ Manuel is still a very young QB, an ill-timed fumble, inability to contain Calvin Johnson… whatever it ends up being, the Bills lose a close game and fall to 3-2.

New England – W (4-2)

Yes. You read the right: win. The Bills have been so close for so long, including last year’s first game in Buffalo against the Pats. This year, this game: Bills win. Brandon Spikes said it would happen, so… Who knows what each team will look like by week seven (injuries, etc) but the Bills should want this game, at their home stadium, and I think they overpower the Patriots on offense and defense. Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, so he can always reverse any amount of great Bills effort, but on this October day in 2014, the Bills get the much-needed victory.

Minnesota – W (5-2)

Adrian Peterson is coming to town. If the Bills run defense has not been tested yet (but it will have been) this will be a great test. The Bills play better at home. They just do. So this day would likely see a fired-up defense, and an adequate offense, and against a Minnesota team that puts all of its hopes on its (amazing) running back. If they can’t stop AP, then they could lose. (But they could still win.) If they can then this game goes easily to Buffalo at home.

@ NY Jets – L (5-3)

One of the Bills worst games last season was in New Jersey against the Jets. This year they face the Jets for the first time on the road, one week before their bye. At 5-2, they’re probably really happy with the way the season has gone… until this day. Rex Ryan and his ample defense find ways to confound the Bills offense more than the Bills defense will be able to compensate for, giving the Jets the win. If it’s really ugly, a big win.


No loss here! (No win, either.)

Kansas City – W (6-3)

This game, in 2013, KC @ Buffalo, did not end the way it “should” have. The Bills played really well, had a big lead, with their third-string quarterback, until that QB threw an INT at the goal line that was returned the other way for a long TD, and then fumbled away the ball the next drive. That’s not likely to happen this year. I know KC has weapons. But I really think they are overrated, and it showed last year as the Bills should have/could have beaten them. That happens this year as they can not overcome our defense, nor stop our offense. Bills win big.

@ Miami – W (7-3)

This game will be tough. Miami will need the win. They are home. The Bills are traveling. But the Bills are better. They have more offensive weapons. They have as good a defense as the Dolphins. Dan Carpenter kicks several field goals to defeat his former team for the second time in 2014: Bills get another road win! Wow!

NJ Jets – W (8-3)

After losing to the Jets on the road, the Bills will need to win this rematch at their own place. It’s getting late in the year, and division wins are really important. Last year, EJ Manuel showed why the Bills picked him over Geno Smith when he looked great against the Jets, and Smith had a QB rating in the single digits, looking awful. The Bills play well at home, and they get a hard-fought, but “easy” victory over the Jets. (Spiller, Jackson, Brown, and Dixon pile up over 200 yards rushing in this game, too.) And the Bills are 8-3?!?!

Cleveland – W (9-3)

One of the games the Bills really, really should have won last year was against Cleveland on a Thursday night. They had the game won until EJ Manuel was injured, then everything fell apart. Assuming a full roster of players, the Bills will avenge that loss and then some. The Bills are just far superior to the Browns. Sorry, Coach Pettine, your return to Buffalo will not be pretty. Bills by thirty. (Or so…)

@ Denver – L (9-4)

The Bills begin their descent to reality with a road game against the Denver Manning. Peyton will find a way to overcome this defense, and the Bills, while giving their best against last year’s AFC Champs, will likely go home with a loss here. This begins a stretch of three road games in four weeks.

Green Bay – L (9-5)

Green Bay is good. Buffalo at home in December is hard to beat. One of those things will have to give in this last home game of 2014, and I think Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will find a way to win this game in Buffalo. They know how to play in cold weather, so that won’t be an issue. The Bills will likely put up a good fight, but the Pack win, handing Buffalo a second-straight loss.

@ Oakland – L (9-6)

If the Bills are as good as their previously 9-3 record would suggest, they need to find a way to win this game. This is the “winnable” game in their last quarter of the schedule. But, the Raiders are improved, and at home, facing the Eastern time zone Bills, Buffalo gets another loss. Third straight. Might the playoffs be in jeopardy?

@ New England – L (9-7)

The Bills have to win this game. They have NEVER won in Gillette Stadium. Ever. Really! Spikes predicted two wins against his former team for his current team in 2014, but can they really do it? Looking at New England’s schedule, I think they will need this game as much as Buffalo. (I think they might need it to salvage a winning season, coming into the game at 8-7.) Tom Brady gets one last win over the Bills, and the Bills will have to wait till 2015 to beat New England in their house.

Funny. I predicted a 9-7 record for Buffalo last season, too. That didn’t turn out so well. Maybe this is the year the Bills actually do play up to their potential?

It begins today! Buffalo @ Chicago at 1pm. Go Bills!