Slim But Still Kicking

by Ryan

As of today we are still “In the Hunt” as the leaderboards like to say. It may not feel like it mentally, but statistically this is so. Does anyone here still think the Bills have a good shot at the playoffs? Perhaps, but I think we all understand what needs to be done for it to happen. Before we get to some points on the game, let’s lay out what the Bills need to do to get a wild card spot. Keep in mind this isn’t looking at the other teams and their schedules, but just what the Bills can control.

Win the remaining three games within the division: There’s no way the Bills make the playoffs with a below .500 record against the AFC East. The Bills need to realistically leap two teams in the East to have a chance at the Wild Card, and that means no sweeps. If they don’t beat the eventual division champs I suppose that doesn’t matter, but who knows which team that will be?

Get healthy: The injuries on defense have to stop, and the guys currently out have to be back for the stretch run. They already screwed themselves at linebacker and DiGorgio is on IR, but there are some players that could come back and help this team. Guys like Schobel and Whitner are huge parts of the Bills defense, and getting them back for the last five games would be a big help.

Screw it, win out. Looking at the schedule there are two real “losable” games: @NYJ and @Denver. The Bills should be able to win the remaining “home” games and can conceivably lose to the division winner (Jets) but still make the playoffs. Losing to Denver would be tough but one could assume they hold the other wild card position, and the Bills never seem to win those type of road games.

If the above is any indication, the Bills probably won’t make the playoffs. I don’t see this team going 4-1 or better down the stretch, but it’s still possible. Ah, the power of math. Here are some thoughts on the game, because it’s the only good thing I’ve watched in the past two weeks.

– Solomon Wilcots loves Herm Edwards. I decided this after the third time he claimed Herm did a “great job” coaching the Cheifs this year. Herm Edwards is an awful coach, and he should be fired. How he’s not gone yet is beyond me. He destroyed Larry Johnson’s career, dicked around with his quarterbacks incessantly, and makes coaching decisions I couldn’t defend if I was on speed. Those two challenges were freaking horrible yesterday, and Solomon slobbered all over his underachieving man-member like he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Dick Jauron is a mediocre head coach. I’ve accepted this and moved on. However, matching up against Herm is like Manny playing tee ball with six year olds. He’s not just ripping the cover off the ball, he’s ripping the face off the toddler.

– It was good to see that even in victory the Bills defense managed to allow that monster run play a few times. Nice to know Larry Johnson still has knees after that 2006 season.

– You have to hand it to the coaching staff in how they handled Trent. They knew KC’s defense was awful, but the kid gloves approach really helped bring him along nicely as the game progressed. I’m not sure I like the naked bootleg run stuff with our recently concussed quarterback, but it was nice to see him gain back some confidence. He’s going to need it for the playoff push in ’09.

– Isn’t Marshawn Lynch fun? I loved that he wanted to get back in the game after that late hit. This was the kind of game you want him to have every week, and I don’t care if his stats showed it or not. He’s not on my fantasy team, so I couldn’t care less if he gets over 100 yards. Hit holes, finish your runs, and let Jackson get some carries as well. This is what we’ve wanted from the Bills running game all year, and it only took two games against awful defenses to get it. Hey, at least we play Denver soon…

– Perhaps Mitchell was a bit too “amped up” to play in Kansas City again. He missed a ton of tackles and just sort of pushed Thigpen in the end zone instead of powerbombing him for the safety. Not a good showing overall.

– Leodis McKelvin is a bust.

– Do you think the Bills play better with a shorter week because they have to think less? Like, if they were playing the Lions on Thursday is there any doubt in your mind that the game plan would be absolutely stellar? Strange.

Any thoughts on the game? We never get comments on Bills posts, but maybe that’s just because the last month has been so depressing it wasn’t worth talking about.

2 Comments

  1. spavery

    I don’t comment often, but read all of your posts, Ryan.

    Those four loses don’t look so bad anymore. Miami, NYJ, and NE are all good football teams, much better than we thought they were at the beginning of the season. Cleveland beat the Giants, so you know they’re talented enough to beat anybody. None of the games were blowouts either, as the Bills didn’t lose of any of the games during that stretch by more than 10 points.

    What is troubling to me is Jauron’s tendency to lose to winning football teams. It’s not just a trend for this season. If you look back over his tenure, he tends to lose to teams with winning records, and beat teams with losing records. He and his assistants consistently get out-coached by quality football teams. That trend has to end very soon if the Bills are going to be a successful franchise.

    What scares me is it’s conceivable that the Bills finish 10-6 and don’t make the playoffs. Indy, Baltimore and NE are all 7-4., and it seems unlikely that any of them will finish 9-7 at this point. It’s even conceivable that the Bills run the table, finish at 11-5, and still don’t make the playoffs. That’s the sort of math that offers little solace…

  2. Ryan

    I agree with pretty much everything you said there, including Jauron’s ability to get outcoached by good teams. It’s something that has to change but probably never will.

    I also believe the Bills could win out and still miss the playoffs, which only makes games against the Browns and Dolphins that much more frustrating.

    The AFC East is a lot better then most people thought, and we have to play some great football over the next five weeks to have a prayer against them.