So the bye week cometh, and the bye week, um… goeth. Now we’re left with nine more games to decide the fate of this Bills team. I can only hope that we become the big story in the second half of the season as we set up a nice winning streak and surprise all the doubters. Mario’s got a fresh new wrist, the focus is back in Buffalo, and maybe… just maybe… we’ll get a little of that Fitzmagic back.
As for the rest of the league, there were a few big shakeups in my rankings. Enjoy!
Fastest Risers: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+12), Miami Dolphins (+7)
Steepest Fall: San Diego Chargers (-8)
- Atlanta Falcons (same): I don’t know how Vegas had the Eagles winning that game. Matt Ryan has significantly matured this year, and the Falcons are now winning big games on the road. They hadn’t won in Philly since 1988. This looks like the year they finally win a playoff game, and maybe more.
- Houston Texans (same): After some rest, the Texans come off the bye to face our Bills. We can only hope for severe overconfidence in Houston. Maybe then our boys can surprise them.
- New York Giants (same): It wasn’t a pretty end to their game against Dallas, but a win is a win and the G-Men firmly hold the crown in the NFC East. Pittsburgh poses a tough challenge this week.
- San Francisco 49ers (same): Last year’s Niners were amazing. While the defense remains dominant, this year’s Niner offense has shown significant improvement over last year. It’s very easy to imagine them in the Super Bowl. They might as well spend the bye going to Disneyworld or something.
- Green Bay Packers (+1): The Packers move up one for the consistent play from Rodgers & Company. The Cardinals likely won’t put up much of a fight.
- Chicago Bears (-1): Sorry Chicago, but you move down one spot in a win because it shouldn’t have been that close against the Panthers. That offense should be dominating lesser teams, but Cutler’s terrible protection continues to make that difficult.
- Denver Broncos (+1): Peyton Manning is officially 100%. If anything, Peyton is even better than he was before his injury. Now that the rest of the Broncos are learning how to play in Peyton’s offense, this team will likely be a contender for the next few years.
- New England Patriots (+2): DANGER! The Patriots actually looked like themselves in London. If they keep playing like that, the rest of the AFC East is getting left in the dust. Let’s hope it was just jetlag for the Rams that caused them to get so handily stomped. Maybe after the bye, the Pats will forget how to play again.
- Baltimore Ravens (-2): The Ravens spent their bye watching other teams look better than them. They probably aren’t sweating their upcoming match against the Browns, though it is a big opportunity to prove they’ve fixed the run defense. Otherwise Trent Richardson is gonna prance all over the field like a gazelle.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (+2): A LOT of people picked the Redskins going into this game. That Steelers defense looked like it had lost some bite, and RG3 seemed like too much for them. Turns out the Steelers swarmed Griffin like angry bees. Get it?
- Minnesota Vikings (same): I’m not willing to condemn the Vikings for losing to a surprisingly good Bucs team. They are 5-3 and they still have a great defense. They’re in the mix for the playoffs after 8 games, which is way more than anyone expected from them.
- Seattle Seahawks (-3): The Seahawks have impressed me much less in recent weeks. That strong defense didn’t look too great against a Detroit team that has had difficulty producing points. This week brings the battle of the surprise teams: MIN@SEA. Time to find out who is for real and who is just pretending.
- Miami Dolphins (+7): Who saw this coming? Miami is 4-3 and has looked like a balanced team over the last few weeks. Tannehill continues to impress. I REALLY hope they take a nose dive in the second half of the season, because they’re looking confident right now.
- Detroit Lions (+4): Matt Stafford has returned! For a while, Stafford was collateral damage in Megatron’s Madden Curse, but on Sunday he proved he has other receivers to throw to. Titus Young may as well start calling himself Starscream. You know, Starscream? One of… the other Decepticons… hangs out with Megatron a lot…. Don’t judge me.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+12): I don’t know what Schiano did, but a few weeks ago the Bucs decided they were done playing like crap. Doug Martin can’t be stopped. Josh Freeman is a fantasy stud. Ronde Barber (who’s like 60 now) is probably going to the Pro Bowl. The NFC is a tough conference these days, but continued play like this could get this team to the postseason.
- Cincinnati Bengals (-1): The Bengals are hoping they found that fire they had last year during their bye week. The Broncos won’t exactly go easy on them.
- Washington Redskins (-4): So much for “explosive offense.” Now everyone’s drawing comparisons between RG3 and Cam Newton in advance of their battle this week. If you want to see how different these guys really are, watch their post-game interviews after a loss. If I had to pick which one has a better future in the NFL, I’d go with RG3 in a heartbeat.
- New Orleans Saints (-4): Welp, there goes the hope in New Orleans. Even if they win out, they’re going to need a lot of help to earn a spot in the playoffs. Joe Vitt can only hope that he does a decent job for the rest of the year. Maybe he can earn a head coaching job elsewhere next year.
- Philadelphia Eagles (-3): Michael Vick managed to protect the football, and yet blame still rains down on him for Sunday’s loss. The real blame lies with that Eagles high-priced secondary that couldn’t do a thing against the Falcons offense. Of course, the blame doesn’t seem to ever land in the right spot in Philly these days.
- Indianapolis Colts (+3): It isn’t an incredible feat to defeat the Titans, but Luck and the Colts did it. A divisional win is a pretty big deal in the tumultuous AFC. The Colts have the chance this week to get an advantage over one of the other AFC wild card hopefuls, the Dolphins. I say, GO COLTS!
- St. Louis Rams (-2): The Rams got the ultimate lame deal this week. London was CLEARLY not a home game in any way for them. Despite the NFL’s best efforts, there were too many Patriots bandwagon fans in London. I’m not saying they would have had a much better chance in St. Louis either, but still… pretty lame deal.
- Arizona Cardinals (-1): The Cardinals defense actually performed well considering the way the Niners offense was clicking. If the Cardinals had ANY offense to speak of, they might have been in that game.
- Dallas Cowboys (-1): It doesn’t matter how good you look in the second half if you open the game with a turnover-festival in Dallas. Romo and the gang still lack the discipline to contend in the NFL.
- Buffalo Bills (+2): At least we’re not the Jets! With Mario’s wrist surgery done and the team refocusing on what it needs to do, I feel comfortable bumping our Bills up a couple spots. We’re going to find out real quick if the right changes have been made.
- San Diego Chargers (-8): What a terrible performance. An interesting result of the disappointing Chargers season may be the release of Philip Rivers. I once would have clamored for the Bills to pick him up in that case. Now, I’m not so sure.
- New York Jets (-2): The Jets were OWNED by the Dolphins on their own turf. You wonder if Tony Sparano will eventually just put in Tebow to shut people up. He’s got the whole bye week to consider it. Everyone, however, is ignoring the fact that the whole Jets team is failing to perform, not just Sanchez.
- Tennessee Titans (-2): After a couple weeks of decent wins, the Titans defense proved it couldn’t keep up. Vick Ballard put them on the wrong side of a SC Top Play, and now the Titans must face a Chicago defense that won’t give them an inch.
- Cleveland Browns (+1): These guys have to be riding high after upsetting the Chargers, but don’t be fooled. They’ve still got a long way to go. Trent Richardson is legit, though. He’s likely salivating at the Ravens defense.
- Oakland Raiders (-1): I don’t care that they won. They beat the worst team in the league. What would you expect? The Browns beat someone better, so they move up and Oakland moves down. If they beat the Bucs, I’ll give them credit. Until then they stay here.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (+1): Word on the street is that the Jags are looking to trade for Tebow. They tried to nab him during the offseason but couldn’t. I honestly think they need to just stick with Gabbert for another year and try to actually give him a team to work with.
- Carolina Panthers (-1): There are no excuses for this. When asked about his sideline behavior, hanging his head on the bench after mistakes, Cam said that’s how he normally responds to those situations and it’s nothing out of the ordinary. THAT’S THE PROBLEM. Look at ANY great QB and tell me what they do after a mistake. No, I’ll tell you what they do. They talk to their coaches, talk to their players, look at the playbook, and focus on the next drive. LEAD YOUR TEAM. Jeez. #RantOver
- Kansas City Chiefs (same): I kind of feel bad for the Chiefs. There is really nothing they can do at this point. I mostly blame coaches and the front office for the atrocious situation this team is in. With Quinn injured, they just have Matt Cassell at QB. That’s it. Their backup against San Diego, assuming Quinn isn’t cleared to play, will be Ricky Stanzi. Good luck.
Here we go, Bills Mafia! Time to forget the last 8 weeks and focus on cheering our Bills on to victory! Nothing is a foregone conclusion in this league. We can steal one from the Texans, and Mario will probably be eager to put on a show for his former team. LET’S GO BUFFALO!