If the Bills are to have any chance at making the playoffs, they can really only afford to lose one of their upcoming eight games. Unfortunately for them, the Bills will have to face three teams currently in line to make the playoffs, two of them facing the Bills in the next four games (the Pats and the Colts). In the next four games the Bills start off by facing the Patriots at Foxboro. From there they go home to face the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night. Next they travel to Indianapolis to play the Colts. Finally the Bills head back home and face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the beginning of December.
Part 2: Report Card
Offensively the Bills are struggling in most areas through all 8 games of the season so far. They currently are 18th overall in points per game (22.5), 21st in total yardage per game (343.9) and are 27th in passing yardage a game (202.6). On the bright side though, the Bills are currently 6th in rushing yards per game (141.3). [Are you paying attention to this Chan?]
Defensively is a much bleaker situation for the Bills. The Bills are ranked 31st in three categories: points given up per game (31.0), yards given up per game (417.9) and rushing yards per game (169.5). The Bills pass defense is ranked 24th in passing yards given up (248.4). Hopefully a better pass rush from Mario Williams and improved play from the linebackers can help reverse some of these gaudy numbers.
Note all team statistics attained through Yahoo Sports.
New England Patriots (6-2)
Offense: Total Yardage per Game 440.8 (1), Points per Game 32.8 (1),
Rushing Yardage 149.6 (4), Passing Yardage 291.1 (5)
Defense: Total Yardage Given Up per Game 369.8 (22), Points Given Up per Game 21.3 (12),
Rushing Yardage 88.6 (8), Passing Yardage 281.1 (28)
The Patriots have been all but unstoppable against the Bills in the past decade. Yes the Bills were winning through the first two quarters earlier this year, but then got blown out in the end. The Patriots defense has had great success in stopping the run so far this year, so the Bills may need to throw the ball more against a porous Patriots’ secondary. DO NOT ABANDON THE RUN! Both Spiller and Jackson’s skill sets allow them to perform well enough on their own and the Bills offense needs the run to get momentum going. On the other side of the ball the Bills need to get pressure on Tom Brady consistently throughout the game if they are to have any chance of keeping off of a rhythm. That especially means keeping Gronk and Welker contained. Speaking of containment, the Bills must not let the Pats run all over the field again, although not running 4-1-6 formations will be of HUGE help Buffalo.
Prediction: Patriots Win, 41-20
Miami Dolphins (4-4)
Offense: Total Yardage per Game 332.5 (23), Points per Game 21.3 (20),
Rushing Yardage 111.9 (13), Passing Yardage 220.6 (20)
Defense: Total Yardage Given Up per Game 382.1 (24), Points Given Up per Game 18.6 (6),
Rushing Yardage 83.9 (3), Passing Yardage 298.3 (30)
For the second week in a row (and on short rest), the Bills will play against one of the better run defenses in the NFL. On the other hand, like the Patriots, the Dolphins struggle in pass defense. Getting a few deep passes should help to open up the run game against the Phish. On the other hand, the Bills get to face a young, but developing offense led by rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill is not having a great year by any means which is why RB Reggie Bush is the go to guy on offense. The Bills must contain Bush and a huge way to do that is to have Mario Williams dominate rookie RT Jonathan Martin and get in the backfield.
Prediction: Bills Win, 20-13
Indianapolis Colts (5-3)
Offense: Total Yardage per Game 390.9 (4), Total Points 19.9 (23),
Rushing Yardage 105.9 (19), Passing Yardage 285.0 (6)
Defense: Total Yardage per Given Up Game 352.3 (18), Points Given Up per Game 23.9 (23),
Rushing Yardage Given Up 130.8 (25), Passing Given Up Yardage 221.5 (11)
As I said earlier, if the Bills have any shot of making the playoffs, they’ll have to knock off the AFC team currently sitting in the sixth spot, the Colts. The Colts have been largely successful so far due to the arm of their first overall pick of the 2012 draft, Andrew Luck. The Bills first priority on defense is to therefore keep him and his targets in check. While the Colts have a decent pass defense, their new 3-4 defense has struggled against the run. The Bills best bet thus is to run the ball in Indy.
Prediction: Bills Win, 24-20
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7)
Offense: Total Yardage per Game 254.4 (32), Total Points 14.6 (32),
Rushing Yardage 84.0 (28), Passing Yardage 170.4 (32)
Defense: Total Yardage Given Up per Game 392.9 (27), Points Given Up per Game 27.4 (26),
Rushing Yardage Given Up 137.4 (27), Passing Yardage Given Up 255.5 (25)
This should be the easiest game of the year, although Tennessee was supposed to be that as well. The Jaguars have struggled with the worst offense in the league due to an oft-harassed Blaine Gabbert and having star RB Maurice Jones-Drew sidelined with an injury. IF Jones-Drew is sidelined, the Bills on paper just need to blitz the hell out of Gabbert to take out the Jags offense. The Bills should also have a good time offensively. The Jags defense, led by Poz has been struggling all year both against the pass and more so against the run. This is obviously great news again for Spiller and Jackson and the Bills offense as a whole. Just play smart football, avoid turnovers and make tackles and the Bills should prevail.
Prediction: Bills Win, 38-9Go Bills!!