I don’t know about anyone else, but I found the bye week to be discombobulating and mildly disorienting. Ever since camp opened in July there’s been Bills football. Now it’s 1 PM on a Sunday and there are NFL teams playing, pundits pontificating and calls being blown in every time zone including the one in London and yet there are no Bills anywhere.
It’s like the team folded and they don’t exist anymore. I don’t care that they are wearing their hideous red uniforms on Sunday (give me the classic blue on white every weekend) and playing perhaps the worst NFL team, I’ll be happy to have them back and order restored to my little universe.
I wish I could tell you in technical football terms all about the Dolphins schemes and their personnel and analyze in depth why they have no hope of beating the Bills this weekend. I can’t do that. All I know is that I’ve been watching Bills games since 1962 and I really don’t care what the point spread of the game is. There are rarely easy games in this league. The Bills have found creative ways to torture their fans and apply maximum stress in situations that pre game would have suggested otherwise.
I’ve been all in on Sean McDermott, the culture he has been building and the team’s approach to games. I think this week is another test. Coming off a bye week, playing arguably the worst team this year (and perhaps the last decade), heavy favorites, at home and perhaps thinking about style points, personal stats and entertaining the crowd, could well be a recipe for one stinker of a performance.
Old friend Ryan Fitzpatrick apparently will be starting and, in my opinion, gives the Phins hope for a “Fitz Magic” type performance. (There really can’t be the flip side “Fitz Tragic” when his team is a 16 1/2 point underdog).
In any event, the men of McDermott need to toe the “process” line this Sunday; one play at a time, focus, intensity and playing to the standards they have established. If they do that, (and I think they will) I think they win handily. If they need a reminder, the Vikings were 16 1/2 point favorites over the Bills when the Bills whacked them last year in Minnesota.
Reading Bills “takes”, articles and all things NFL this past week, I sense a trend toward thinking the Bills remaining schedule is “easy”. I urge caution. The NFL is, truly, a week to week proposition. The stinker games the Browns played the last couple of weeks mean nothing in 4 weeks.
The 3rd string QB in Pittsburgh, Devlin Hodges, just won a game against the Chargers and could be the 2nd coming of Kurt Warner for all we know. Dallas losing on the road to the Jets doesn’t mean much of anything for a game in a month and a half.
I cannot be persuaded that road games against Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas and New England and home games against Philly, Baltimore, Denver and the Jets will be “easy” (or the new buzzword: “favorable”). Winnable? Yes, I’ll give you that. But also losable too I think.
Two weeks ago KC looked like a Super Bowl favorite. If they lose to rapidly improving Denver in Denver on Thursday night, there could be one game separating all four teams in the AFC West by the end of the week and even making the playoffs is no longer a certainty. It is a week-to-week league. Just for myself and due to past traumas, I am slowing my roll a bit.
I watched most of the Jets/Dallas game and was impressed with Sam Darnold. He truly elevated that whole team. Does this mean they are going to the Super Bowl? No of course not but I think they can do some serious damage to the playoff hopes of teams in coming weeks. Their game at home with New England on Monday night might tell us a lot about them going forward. The Bills 3 straight home games coming up might tell us a lot about the Bills too. Or, it might not. Week-to-week. Week-to-week. As fans, I think it will serve us well too.
Editor’s babble: Totally on board with this post. Maybe it’s our advanced age (lol) but we’ve seen too many weird things happen over the decades when the Bills and Dolphins meet. Thanks to Joe Tauriello for his terrific contributions to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @Joe_Tauriello.