Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bills vs. Chargers Preview

by Coast

It was the 2008 season. The Buffalo Bills were the talk of the National Football League after an improbably 4-1 start. In to town came Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. This was the Bills’ statement game. A win against a respectable opponent with a good quarterback to go to 5-1 would officially put the Bills on the map and make their 2008 season legitimate. What ensued was one of the best days at the Ralph during the playoff drought. The Bills overcame a power outage to win the game 23-14. Trent Edwards was nearly flawless completing 25-30 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown. This was it, the Bills had their quarterback, had a statement win, were 5-1 and were officially a playoff contender.

They lost their next 4 games and finished 7-9 and Trent Edwards, well, the rest is history.

Fast forward 6 years to 2014. The Bills are a hot topic around the league after a surprising 2-0 start. They have 2 solid wins over average or better teams. Coming to town for week 3 are the San Diego Chargers and Philip Rivers, fresh off a beat down of the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. A win in this game for the Bills would be a statement win to get them to 3-0 and officially become a contender for the post season.

This match-up is very interesting for many reasons. First of all, it is a let down game for both teams. The Bills obviously coming off an emotional opening day victory vs. Miami with all of the hoopla surrounding the game. The Chargers home opener pitted a huge win over Seattle and now they must travel across the country to play an early Sunday game. Can the Bills back up their inspired performance from last Sunday with another one this Sunday? Time will tell.

The Chargers win over Seattle was convincing to say the least. Philip Rivers shredded the defending champions vaunted secondary. A week after the Seahawks made Aaron Rodgers look pedestrian (and obviously thinking back to how they embarrassed Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl), Philip Rivers had little to no issue. Rivers was 28/37 for 284 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. An 82.8 QBR is the highest allowed by Seattle since, well, at least 2012...I didn’t want to keep going back. Antonio Gates caught all 3 of Rivers’ touchdown passes as he adds to his resume as one of the greatest tight ends of all time.

The Chargers have been playing quality football going back to the 2013 season, in which they made a late run to a surprise postseason berth. The Chargers won their final 4 regular season games and then validated their playoff berth with a win in the wild card round in Cincinnati. The Chargers are 6-2 over their last 8 games, with their only 2 losses a 1 point loss at Arizona and a 7 point loss at Denver in the divisional round of the playoffs.

The strength of the Chargers team has historically been their offense lead by Philip Rivers. In 2013 they ranked 5th in yards per game and 4th in yards per game through the air. Philip Rivers quietly had an MVP caliber season in 2013 ranking 5th among Qbs in yards and 4th in touchdowns. His TD/INT ratio was 32/11. Philip Rivers is a premier quarterback in this league, in my opinion.

The weakness for San Diego in 2013 was their defense , ranking 23rd in 2013 in yards per game allowed. They allowed a 12 point 4th quarter comeback to the Carson Palmer led Cardinals in week 1 but other than that, their defense has been pretty solid in 2014. The Chargers defense has been stout thus far against the run in 2014, limiting Andre Ellington to 53 yards and Marshawn Lynch to 36 yards.

Offensively, the Chargers come into this game with some injury issues. Through 2 weeks this year, the Chargers are averaging a mere 76.5 yards per game rushing and to make matters worse, the Chargers will be without their starting running back Ryan Mathews for this game. Donald Brown and Danny Woodhead will be the main men toting the rock for San Diego. On top of that, Chargers star young receiver Keenan Allen is questionable with a groin injury. If he plays, he will likely be limited. Besides Keenan Allen, the Chargers wide receivers are Malcolm Floyd, Eddie Royal and some dudes I have never heard of. These guys don’t strike much fear in my heart. Antonio Gates is going to be the focal point for San Diego Sunday, so the Bills need to key on him. Gates has gotten off to a great start in 2014 with 177 yards and 3 touchdowns through 2 games.

The Bills are coming off a huge win vs. Miami, but with all of the emotion surrounding that game, they need to back it up with a solid performance against a playoff caliber team. If the Bills have legitimate playoff aspirations, my opinion is that this game is a must win. The Bills have back to back road games and then come home for the Patriots, so a home win against a quality team with potential playoff tiebreaker implications just needs to be had.

The Bills got Sammy Watkins involved early and often in week 2 vs. Miami and need to do more of the same this week. The Bills need to make getting Sammy Watkins and CJ Spiller the football in space a focal point of their offensive game plan and this includes in the red zone. The Bills red zone offense has been atrocious and if my memory serves me correctly, CJ Spiller had one touch in the 5 red zone possessions the Bills had in week 2. That is just not good enough. Fred Jackson in the red zone has been a failure so far this year. The Bills have a variety of weapons to use in the red zone and need to get more creative in getting these guys the ball. Watkins and Spiller obviously have great speed and ability. Mike Williams was brought in to help with the red zone with his great size. I would like to see Hackett open up the play book in the red zone and get these play makers more opportunities.

My pick this week is Bills 27 Chargers 13. The major reason for this prediction is that I think the Bills defense is legitimate. They are big, physical and fast and have dominated through much of the first two weeks. A legitimate defense can be counted on week in and week out, so if this defense truly is good, I expect another solid performance Sunday, especially with the Chargers injury issues on offense.

Go Bills!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

San Diego Chargers at Buffalo Bills Podcast

Steve, Coast and a special guest review the surprising Dolphins blow out and look ahead to the Chargers and beyond.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week 3 Buffalo Bills Power Rankings Recap

Week 3!!! Bills power rankings ya know?

CBS Sports 15 :
 After a 6 spot jump, Ohhh, now's the week to show they are for real
"They have a chance this week to show they are for real with San Diego coming to town. EJ Manuel has done a solid job the first two weeks."

ESPN 12:
11 spot jump but generic stats provide nothing
"Buffalo ranks sixth in both rushing yards and rushing yards allowed per game. The Bills are 2-0 for the first time since 2011 but host the Chargers next."

Walterfootball 20:
Perhaps worse than no comments "20. Buffalo Bills (2-0). Previously: #28"

Yahoo! Sports 18:
Six spot jump but hey their ipso facto retardery makes zero sense.
" Think about this: They're 2-0 with wins over Chicago and Miami. Those opponents' other two games are wins against New England and San Francisco. What a start in Buffalo."

PFT 18
eight spot jump and shit I don't get:
"18. Buffalo Bills (No. 26; 2-0):  The organization’s best week since January 1994 could become the best two weeks since January 1994." 9:
Highest ranking and it isn't even close but what the fuck is this guy talking about?
"Say what you want about C.J. Spiller and how the Bills tend to use him; the man can flat-out fly. His kickoff return was more than highlight stuff -- it answered a Dolphins field goal, returning control of a key AFC East matchup to Buffalo's hands.

Love that this team is 2-0. Love even more that the Bills are staying in Buffalo. Love less that I missed this game pick, but, well, I don't really care. The Bills are not leaving the city in which they were based when they won the 1964 and '65 AFL championships, as well as four straight AFC crowns under Marv Levy. And don't sleep on the Ground Chuck years, either."

Highest spot 9 lowest 20, not a lot of respect but nothing terrible. Hmm

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bills Dolphins Recap

by Coast

I know it is only week 2, but the Buffalo Bills stand all alone in first place in the AFC East. Yes, this is the same Buffalo Bills team that I predicted would go 5-11 and pretty much be the laughing stock of the NFL after their pathetic offseason. However, through 2 games, I could not be more wrong. At 2-0, the Bills are staring down at the Jets, Patriots and Dolphins, all of whom have suffered a defeat. The Bills have scored the most points and have allowed the least points in the division. They have only trailed for 4:43 of the 125:14 played (they have been tied or winning for 96.2% of the season so far). These wins have not been flukes either. The Bills went into Soldier Field and beat the Bears in their home opener. This organization had never won at Soldier Field. The Bills followed that up with a convincing blowout win over the hated Dolphins in a home opener to remember.

What makes this 2-0 start more impressive than others is the teams that the Bills have beaten. It is hard to tell after two weeks whether or not a team is actually good in the NFL. It is one thing to be the Houston Texans right now, who are also a surprising 2-0, but have beaten the Chiefs and Raiders (both 0-2). I don’t think anyone would argue that the Raiders are not one of the worst teams in the NFL. On the contrary, the Bills have beaten the Bears and Dolphins, both of whom have won their other game against formidable opponents. The Dolphins beat the Patriots and the Bears went into San Francisco for their home opener in a brand new stadium on Sunday Night Football and spoiled the party for the defending NFC runner ups.

One thing I have noticed about this Bills team which I believe makes them different than the 2008 and 2011 teams that got our hopes up only to dash them as soon as possible is I believe that the Bills have been decidedly more physical than their opponents so far. They are controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football. Check out these stats through two weeks.

Rush yards per game allowed: 6th (83 ypg)
Rush yards per game gained: 6th (153 ypg)
Sacks for: 6th (6 sacks through 2 weeks)
Sacks allowed: 3rd (only 1 sack allowed through 2 weeks)

The Bills have been able to run the ball and stop the run. They have also been able to protect EJ Manuel and pressure the opposing quarterback leading to a +4 turnover differential through 2 games.

Now on to the Dolphins game. The Bills beat Miami 29-10. Ironically this is the same score as the Bills AFC Championship triumph in the 1992 season at Joe Roby Stadium. The Bills hit on all of my keys to victory from last week’s preview.

First, they needed to get CJ Spiller and Sammy Watkins more involved. I would say that they did that. Spiller had a 47 yard run leading to a Watkins touchdown reception and a 102 yard kickoff return touchdown  that basically ended any slight hope Miami had. Watkins had 8 for 117 and a touchdown and nearly had another on a long bomb on the Bills’ first drive. The Clemson boys were the Bills’ best players.

Secondly, they needed to block Cameron Wake. I wasn’t sure if Cameron Wake even played so I checked the box score, he had 1 total tackle. Hats off to Seantrel Henderson who is looking like an absolute steal in the 7th round of the 2014 draft. I know the Bills probably gave him so help, but damn, what a day for Seantrel.

Thirdly, EJ needed to play with some confidence, make some plays and not do anything stupid. EJ did not do anything stupid, made some nice throws to Watkins and seems to be gaining confidence as is being shown with his pre and post game speeches.

Fourth, the Bills needed to stop the run and pressure Tannehill. Miami ran for 80 yards and the Bills sacked Tannehill 4 times.

It wasn’t ALL good though yesterday, which makes the margin of victory even more impressive. The Bills red zone offense is horrendous, with both execution and play calling. The Bills managed just 1 touchdown in 5 red zone possessions. The Bills need to change something up in the red zone soon (maybe use Spiller in some creative ways, other than just running it up the middle with him).

The AFC game of the week next week is the San Diego Chargers at the Buffalo Bills. The Chargers are 1-1 and just beat the defending champions at home 30-21. Phil Rivers is just on another level right now and will pose a bigger threat to the Bills defense than they have seen thus far this season. The Bills are favored by 1 point initially, showing that they are at least gaining some very marginal national respect. Yeah, they would still be dogs on a neutral site, but after being home dogs for their home opener against Miami, this is a step up. Go Bills!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Week 2 NFL Expert Picks

2014 Week 2 NFL picks from our experts (best bet in bold)

Steve 2-3

Bengals -5.5 v Falcons
Panthers -2.5 v Lions
Bills -1 v Dolphins
Texans @ Raiders under 40
Eagles @ Colts over 54

Katman 1-4

Bills -1
49ers -7
Chiefs +13
Panthers -2.5
Bengals -5.5


CLE +6.5
jax +6
ten -3.5

Chiefs +13
sd +6
cle det buf

Friday, September 12, 2014

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins Preview

by Coast

The Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins will face off at One Bills Drive with first place in the AFC East on the line (in all likelihood as the Jets face the Packers at Lambeau). What is this, 1990? Well, this Sunday’s home game is as close to a 1990s feeling as we have had as Bills fans in 2 decades. What home opener has seriously had this much hype?

First, it is not too often that the Bills win a road game to open the season and come home at 1-0. The last time it happened was in 2011, when the Bills crushed Kansas City and then came home and beat the Raiders in dramatic fashion. Before that we can go all the way back to the Jim Kelly era as the Bills won in the Meadowlands to open the 1996 season.

Secondly, for the first time since I truly remember paying such close attention to this team, there is no worry of the team actually moving. With Pegula buying the team, we can all sleep peacefully now knowing the team will not be going anywhere.

Third, the greatest Bills QB of all time and biggest advocate of the team battled cancer all off season and right before the opener in Chicago was told he was cancer free.

Fourth, newly inducted Buffalo Bill hall of famer Andre Reed will lead the team out of the tunnel. I am pretty sure most of the crowd will have goose bumps.

Fifth, talking about goose bumps,  the tribute to founder Ralph Wilson will sure to bring tears to the eyes of thousands of fans.

Sixth, what better team to be facing than the hated Miami Dolphins?

Since I started going to most/all of the games about 10 to 15 years ago, I would rank the top 5 home openers in terms of “pre game hype” as follows.

Honorable Mention: New England Patriots, 2013 - A lot of hype surrounded the Bills new coaching staff and rookie QB, but I don’t think anyone really expected anything great from that team.

5. Houston Texans, 2005 - JP Losman’s first game as we all hoped he was the next great QB, in the year following our heroic run to 9-7.

4. New England Patriots, 2003 - After picking up Lawyer Milloy and Takeo Spikes in the offseason, the Bills had playoff aspirations in Bledsoe’s second year.

3. New York Jets, 2002 - Drew Bledsoe’s first game as a Bill, the year after the Bills went 3-13 (PS - Bledsoe was great in 2002 throwing for 4,359 yards).

2. Tennessee Titans, 2000 - Sunday night opener, rematch of the Music City Miracle.

1. Miami Dolphins, 2014 - Kelly, Ralph, Pegula, big road win, Reed, hated rivals coming off big win.

So what about the Bills opponent on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins? They are coming off a big 33-20 win, including a 2nd have destruction, 23 to zilch, of the New England Patriots, in their home opener in 1 million degree & 7,000% humidity Miami, Florida. Football outsiders said Cameron Wake was the best football player last weekend and he will be going up against a rookie tackle. Knowshon Moreno ran all over the Patriots defense for 134 yards. They held the Pats to 89 yards on the ground and Brady only completed 29/56 for 249 yards. The Dolphin defense sacked Brady 4 times. The Phins clearly did a good job running the ball, stopping the run and pressuring Tom Brady…a good formula for success.

So what must the Bills do to win the game? Here are my keys to the game.

Keys to the game for the Bills on offense:

- Get Sammy Watkins and CJ Spiller more involved. Combined under 100 yards last week is inexcusable and Nate Hackett needs to somehow get more creative and get these guys involved more. The grantland
pod cast this week talked about the best rookie fantasy WR and guess who wasn’t even mentioned, Sammy Watkins. Yeah I know it is fantasy and not real football, but fantasy football still depends on production and to not even be on that conversation is pathetic.

- Block Cameron Wake. Chip with a TE or one of the 9 running backs on the roster. Whatever the Bills do, they need to block Wake. The Dolphins will undoubtedly try and put pressure on EJ Manuel. They have a huge matchup advantage with Cameron vs. rookie 7th round pick Seantrel Henderson. We will soon find out what we have in the rookie 7th rounder.

- EJ Manuel play with some confidence please. Use your athleticism to make plays and stop being a pu---. Complete some clutch passes and don’t do anything stupid.

Keys to the game for the Bills on defense:

- Stop the run and make Miami one dimensional. The Dolphins ran with great success against New England, but this Bills defense with the backing of the 12th man which is sure to be crazy, will pose a different threat than the Pats. The Bills held the bears to 86 yards on the ground. Yeah, Forte had 8 catches for 87 yards coming out of the backfield, but Miami doesn’t have a back that poses that kind of threat (who does?).
- Tee off on the bad/mediocre Tannehill


- The Bills will win 23-13. The home field advantage will be significant. Beyond that, I think the Bills are just better. After all, this team swept Miami last season with Thad Lewis at the helm. The games were actually important for Miami too who was on the verge of a playoff spot until the Bills spoiled it for them. A win to go to 2-0 would be huge and really MUST happen in order for this Bills team to be a legitimate playoff contender.

@twreckk predicts 17-14 Bills win
Steve 21-20 Bills win