I came close to picking the Bills last week against the banged up New England Patriots, but I stopped short because I know the history of this franchise in big games all too well. I predicted Rex Ryan’s team had a chance but I just couldn’t jump on the bandwagon after a couple of wins against less that elite teams like the Dolphins and Jets. My caution proved well advised.
The Patriots were ripe for the taking but the Bills, and especially quarterback Tyrod Taylor, lacked the offensive firepower to win the game even though the defense was impressive against all-world Tom Brady who did enough to get the victory (20 – 13) even without his best wide receiver, Julian Edelman. That’s what Super Bowl champions do; they find a way to win even when injured.
Buffalo’s sputtering offense will face another big challenge this week in Kansas City against a Chief’s team that has allowed an average of 12.2 points a game in the last six games and has won four straight to reach the .500 mark on the season with the same 5 and 5 record as the Bills. But the Chiefs hold the lead in the race for the conference wild card playoff spot given their better conference record and quarterback Alex Smith has not thrown an interception in a franchise-record 253 pass attempts.
The Chiefs, under Coach Andy Reid, have been winning despite losing their best offensive weapon, running back Jamal Charles, to a season-ending knee injury in Week 5. Their third string running back, Spencer Ware, ran for 96 yards and two scores last week as the Chiefs torched the San Diego Chargers, 33 – 3. The Bills will likely see plenty of Ware this week and will certainly have their hands full putting up points against the Chiefs who have outscored their opponents 130 – 39 during their winning streak.
Unfortunately for Bills fans, this team looks a lot like most Bills teams over the last 15 years when it comes to wins and losses: not enough wins and too many losses even though the names have changed on the field and off.
There is still no franchise quarterback on this roster and while Taylor has his moments, he looks like a backup trying to carry an offense and he just doesn’t have it. The Bills can’t seem to find Sammy Watkins even when he’s on the field and whether it is Taylor or the play-calling, it doesn’t matter. He’s barely a factor.
The defense had its best game against Brady and the Patriots but defense alone isn’t enough in this league, especially one that’s inconsistent. The Bills need to score points to get into playoff hunt and the offense can’t seem to deliver against the good teams.
The Bills might sneak into the playoffs but even if they manage to get in, which I doubt, there’s not much chance they will advance given their weakness at the game’s most important position, quarterback, and no help on the bench with the erratic and inconsistent E J Manuel.
Unfortunately for local sports fans, there’s not much relief with the Sabres who also have trouble scoring and have lost six straight. Terry Pegula, who owns both teams, was better at extracting money from fracking than he is at owning sports teams, at least so far. Maybe things will eventually change but it doesn’t look like it will happen soon. The Chiefs are favored by six against the Bills but I fear that the final score will be much worse.