There are lots of reasons to be frustrated with the season so far. But perhaps the only reason that makes you wonder about the inequity of the league (aside from the officiating itself) is the way in which the scheduling of the games themselves is arranged.
And, it seems reasonable to conclude, the most important way in which a schedule could be biased against one team versus other teams would be in the way home and away games are alloted over the course of a season. Indeed, since almost everything else about the schedule is overdetermined by rules of order and rotation, the only thing which could be biased would be the ordering of home and away games.
Ironically, the Bills are the outlier in the system this year: no team has played a higher percentage of road games so far this season than the Buffalo Bills. We finally can claim to be #1 in one important NFL statistic: we have more road games played than any other team, and obviously, therefore, we have more home games remaining on our schedule than any other NFL team.
Unfortunately, I suspect few or no NFL team would lobby the league to be #1 in this category. And I believe this to be the case because, for the life of me, I cannot come up with a good argument as to why being #1 in road games through Week 12 of the NFL would be a good thing.
I realize losers look for excuses to continue losing, but it does seem the height of bizarro that the only team in the entire NFL with 4 home games remaining on its schedule with 5 games left in the season is the Buffalo Bills.
Now to some extent, you could argue that the Bills are being done a tremendous favor by the NFL. It is not easy to come into the cold and wind of Buffalo in December and beat a good Bills team.
The problem is that more than the weather, it is the fans which give a team the home field advantage. And with the season close to being over for the Bills, many fans refuse to go to games that mean little and are also freezing cold events to attend.
The loss of momentum matters in games and seasons. Playing so many games on the road so far into the season has helped kill whatever momentum the Bills might have had this season.
Having said that, it is not the case that I believe the NFL has a plan to destroy the Buffalo Bills. But it does seem a wee bit strange that, when everything about the franchise is taken into account, the league would see fit to arrange such a schedule for Buffalo, of all teams (or better said, only the Buffalo team).
Yes, all teams except the Bills have played five or six home games going into this week. If there is a significant home field advantage in the NFL (which I believe there is), it would seem that the NFL should not allow one team to be different than all the rest.
At this stage of the season, the Bills should have played at least one more home game. No team should have played more than six, or fewer than five, through eleven games of the season.
This is all the more important given that we know, from past seasons, that wild card battles are determined often by less than one game per year. Wild Cards are won and lost in the final few weeks of the season. Teams should not have a decisive advantage in their distribution of home and away games at any time during the course of the season.
The NFL, with the exception of the Jets and Giants, does not have to worry about scheduling conflicts with its use of the stadiums assigned to each team. In this way, it is different than basketball and hockey, which often have to arrange their long 80 game plus seasons with concerts, circuses and lacrosse leagues using their arenas. And baseball is obviously different because it is a 162 game season and it only makes sense to have longer road trips and home stands for the sake of travel and ticket sales.
Football is a game known for its concentrated schedule, where every game counts more than in other sports precisely because the season is brief. This makes it more important to have a fair and balanced schedule.
So we face the Catch 22 of the Bills 2012 campaign: the tougher early schedule of games against some of the elite teams on the road was supposed to be balanced by the easier finishing stretch against weaker teams at home.
The pitfall is that there is no guarantee that any team will survive the tougher first two-thirds of the season well enough in order to still be able to take advantage of the easier final third of the season.
Of course the Bills shot themselves in both feet and both arms over the course of the first two-thirds of the season and certainly could have been 6 and 5 or 5 and 6 heading into today's game, right in the thick of the playoff run.
But if it is a game of inches, it is also a game of scheduling. And it is hard to see why it is that the only team in the entire league to play all but four of its games on the road heading into week 13 of the NFL is the Buffalo Bills.
If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a Duck, it most likely is a Duck.
Which is a polite way of saying, Duck You NFL!