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Bills Media Hype is Premature

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This is an interesting period of time to take a gander around the Internets to see what outsiders are saying about the Bills. With the team seemingly on the uprise and facing a struggling Jets team, many articles are overly positive about the Bills this week. Two such articles follow:

Apparently, people in Minnesota have been overly impressed with Trent Edwards. Former league MVP Rich Gannon, in particular, likes the kid:

The best example came in 2004 when Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger became the first rookie quarterback to start his career 13-0. The next example hasn't quite surfaced.

We know it isn't, wasn't and won't be Tarvaris Jackson, a struggling second-round pick of the Vikings in 2006. But two men with ties to the Vikings say they believe they know the identity of the next young QB who will defy the odds.

"Trent Edwards in Buffalo," said former Vikings quarterback and 2002 NFL MVP Rich Gannon, referring to the Bills' rookie third-round draft pick. "I was very impressed by him. I watched film of his first start, and I wrote in my notes that it was the best debut start by a rookie that I've ever seen."

The hype surrounding Edwards is a bit perplexing to me - yes, he's 2-1 (nearly 3-0) as a starter, and yes, the whole poise/quick release thing has people (including yours truly) excited. But people are jumping the gun on this kid - he's got a lot to prove. He certainly can't turn the ball over on the road as he's done at home. I hope Gannon is proven to be incredibly correct about this, but I'm taking a cautiously optimistic approach to this.

Connor Byrne, a favorite of mine for quite some time now, doesn't see the Jets as a threat this Sunday:

The Jets' problems coupled with the Buffalo's recent success spells difficulty for the former and success for the latter. The Bills, as maligned as they tend to be around the league, have lost two one-point games -- to Denver and Dallas -- by way of last-second field goals this year; frankly, they're three seconds away from being 4-2 right now. And, in all honesty, they're likely much better than the Jets.

Byrne is going too far in each direction here. Yes, Buffalo could be 4-2, but those 4 games were at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The team hasn't proven anything on the road yet - they lost by 23 at Pittsburgh and by 31 at New England. While the two road opponents are - let's be honest - elite, the team still hasn't shown me that they can win on the road. Oh, and in the Jets' four-game tailspin, they haven't lost by more than 9 points. Byrne's prediction of a 24-14 Bills victory would be nice, but I'm counting on a closer game. That said, it's still a game the Bills should win - and they need it.

Not all the media is hopping on the bandwagon, however - Mark Gaughan, for one, still sees a serious hole in Buffalo. It's third down offense.

On third-and-1 situations, the Bills have converted 4 of 8. Not good enough. They're 3 for 7 on runs and 1 for 1 on passes. On third-and-2 situations, the Bills also are 4 of 8. Not good enough. On third-and-3 situations, they're 3 of 9. That's poor. They've passed all nine times in that category. They're 1 for 6 on third and 4 and 1 for 4 on third and 5.

So on third and 5 or fewer, they're converting 13 of 38 (34 percent). A team should be at least 50 percent on those plays.

Gee - wonder why the Bills can't convert third downs? Oh yeah... it's play-calling! Bolded text for case-in-point - who throws 9 times out of 9 on third and 3? Only Steve Fairchild. Trent Edwards excels at moving the chains on first and second down with 7-12 yard gains through the air, but if the team wants to, you know, score more than 19 offensive points (their season high), Fairchild needs to clean up his third-down play-calling. This was a great point by Gaughan.