Chargers 37, Bills 10: A New Post-Game Formula

Let's try a new format. "Three Good and Three Bad" wasn't a bad game review format. After four blowouts in six games, finding positives was getting more and more difficult each week. It's far easier to find things to write about in the new format. I believe the old format had us talking about the same things each week, so I'm throwing a change-up in an attempt to get more out of the game. "The Good, the Bad, and the Let's Not Overreact" will come from each team's perspective, with different viewpoints.

San Diego Chargers
The Good. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what the vertical offense is supposed to look like. Norv Turner still runs his offense the way he did in Dallas, with a power run game, and receivers running vertical routes. When the Chargers are clicking, which they are now, almost no team in the league can stop them. With two 6'5" receivers and a 6'4" tight end that can all run well, defenses are severely challenged to cover downfield and play the run. Buffalo struggled to stop Philip Rivers and company from the first drive of the game. Though likely too late to win the AFC West, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Chargers win out and make the playoffs as the sixth seed.

The Bad. San Diego can't cover anyone on the outside. Quentin Jammer looks old. Jammer used to be what Buffalo fans want Aaron Williams to be: a big, physical corner with acceptable speed but super fluid hips that allow him to turn and run with anyone. Now, Jammer looks like he's lost some change of direction skills. Antoine Cason was a better fit as a nickel cornerback. Steve Johnson should have caught a bunch more balls. He was targeted 10 times, and open on many more, but Ryan Fitzpatrick could get the ball on target. Street free agent Derek Hagan got open, and should've had a deep reception at the end of the first half if not for a pass interference penalty where the flag got picked up when it shouldn't have been. The Chargers may need to take another cornerback high in the draft.

Let's Not Overreact. The Chargers aren't winning the AFC West. They would have to win out, and Denver would have to lose out. It's not likely. The Chargers have an outside shot of catching the Jets to make the sixth seed. The Chargers have relied on late-season runs to win the division. This season, San Diego did well early on, tanked during the middle portion of the season, and is now making their late run. It's probably not going to be enough, and it will likely cost Turner his job.

Buffalo Bills
The Good. Despite the offensive futility, Buffalo was in the game into the third quarter. Bryan Scott had a rough day covering Antonio Gates, but let's give him some credit for being a playmaker. He was in the right place at the right time to score the touchdown. He followed the play up by stopping the Chargers - nearly by himself - on their next drive, forcing a Charger punt. He put Buffalo in position to get the ball and go ahead by a point with another touchdown. Alas, the Chargers converted the first down on a fake punt. Scott has proven his usefulness this season as the swiss-army-knife of the defense. He shouldn't be viewed in the negative for not covering Gates. How many safeties in the league can cover Gates in man coverage?

The Bad. I could go on for days about the defense. Everyone knows that Buffalo needs outside help. What's more interesting is the way the Bills folded in the second half. It was reminiscent of the Bills games last season against the Jets, and the second game against the Patrios. After Steve Gregory's interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter, the Bills packed it in. Buffalo recovered from these types of game before, but it's disheartening to see this happen again. Buffalo needs to show up in the final weeks of the season to prove their mental toughness.

Let's Not Overreact. Re-signing Fitzpatrick was the right move for two reasons. First, it brings stability to Buffalo's offense. Second, Fitzpatrick's presence allows Buddy Nix to develop the team around him, and even a quarterback of the future behind him on the depth chart. Fitzpatrick is what he is: an average starting quarterback. He's also streaky. He can have great months, like he did in September. He can put together bad streaks, like he did against the Jets, Cowboys and Dolphins. But he was good in the second Jets game and the Titans game. Buffalo did the right thing re-signing him, and for the near future, Fitzpatrick is a good choice as the franchise's starter.

Outlook
Buffalo is now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. It's officially time to start thinking about the future while we watch the last few games. A lot of good has come out of this season for Buffalo. The Bills were out of playoff consideration before they won their first game last season. This season, Buffalo remained in the hunt for a playoff spot into December. Buffalo may only end up being a couple of games better than last season's final record, but this team is vastly superior offensively. Buffalo has work to do defensively. These next few games will test the Bills' mental toughness. Buffalo needs to come out hard and put together a 60-minute effort on Sunday against the Dolphins to at least prove they still are mentally tough.

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