Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE
On the field of Ralph Wilson Stadium in Week 17, it's all about C.J. Spiller. Off of it, things are much more interesting (and potentially tumultuous) for the Buffalo Bills.
Can C.J. Spiller best Jim Brown?
Let's face it: if you're a Bills fan morbid enough to tune into a game like this (if you even can, as it's blacked out), you're in it merely for Spiller. The Pro Bowl snub is on pace to break a 49-year-old NFL record for the highest single-season yards per carry average in history. In 1963, Brown - considered by many the best back to ever play pro ball - averaged 6.4 yards per carry. On his 183 carries this season, Spiller has averaged 6.48 yards per tote. If he's slightly better than half as good as he was against the Jets in Week 1 (14 carries, 169 yards, one touchdown), Spiller will re-write the record books.
Will Buffalo end its six-game skid against Rex Ryan?
The last time the Bills beat the Jets? October 18, 2009, when Mark Sanchez threw five interceptions and Rian Lindell kicked a 47-yard field goal in overtime to give Dick Jauron's Bills a 16-13 road win. Ryan Fitzpatrick came on in relief of an injured Trent Edwards that day to complete 10-of-25 passes for 116 yards, with a key touchdown toss to Lee Evans that tied the game up in the third quarter. (Yeah, he threw a pick, too.) Buffalo won despite the Jets running for 318 yards on the day; the Jets would get the last laugh, however, with a late-season win in Toronto and, later, a trip to the AFC Championship Game.
Since that day, the Jets have won six straight, including all five since Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey were brought in to head up the Bills' football operation.
Do we really want the Bills to win?
Let's get one thing out of the way first: I don't care how staunchly you deny it, there's not a single Bills fan out there that wouldn't find the tiniest shred of satisfaction in beating the Jets and, proverbially, kicking them while they're down. I know I would. Alas, fans - who always have the team's best interests at heart - have bigger priorities on Sunday. Namely, draft positioning.
WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia mercifully does all of the heavy lifting with this, and here's what he reported earlier this week: the Bills could pick as high as fourth in the 2013 NFL Draft if they lose, but would likely be in the five or six range; if they manage to beat the Jets, they could slide all the way down to No. 10, and perhaps even a bit further if they're really unlucky. You tell us: is kicking the Jets while they're down worth sacrificing a few spots in the Top 10?
What will happen with Chan Gailey on Monday?
Gailey, who enters this game 15-32 as head coach of the Bills, is expected to be fired by almost everyone that follows the team and the league closely. It has reached "foregone conclusion" territory, in fact, and even Gailey seems to sense his impending departure. Barring the unforeseen - and we've seen the unforeseen plenty as Bills fans, so keep that in mind - Gailey will get the axe on the NFL's Black Monday, and the more interesting question to ponder is below.
What will happen with Buddy Nix next week?
If the Bills do wind up firing Gailey - and if they don't, there may be a fan revolt of unprecedented ferocity for the franchise to deal with - then they'll also need to determine if their house-cleaning will extend further into the front office. Nix, the 73-year-old GM that's completing his third season on the job, hired Gailey in January of 2010 without ever having worked with him before. He's banged the "continuity" drum harder than anyone else in the organization, but if the powers that be give Nix a "Chan's gone or you're gone" ultimatum, would his principles win out, or would he go find another coach?
Nix is a regular guest of WGR 550's The Howard Simon Show on Friday mornings, but cancelled his appearance this past week because he was traveling. That interview has since been re-scheduled for Wednesday morning, January 2. Sure - it's pretty easy for Scott Berchtold to call off a scheduled interview if the guy gets fired. Then again, maybe Nix already has assurances that he'll remain the GM beyond next week. We'll know in short order, but until we do, speculation will run rampant.