I know what you’re thinking from the title: probably not much. Welcome to Week 15 Bills fans, Russ Brandon’s annual “career fair” game. For today and the next two weeks, instead of playing for the playoffs the employees of One Bills Drive will be playing for their jobs. That should provide an additional, much-needed, spark to the lethargic play from the past few weeks. With this in mind, there are several Bills players on the bubble who will be fighting to put meat on the table for their families which might give viewers a bit of a show today. Low expectations aside Bills fans, here is what you can expect today.
Mike Pettine’s Defense will “put up or shut up” today. While the defense has generally played better this year over the previous few (including chasing a 18 year sack record they could potentially break), they have still given up too many big plays, especially against the run. No better was this fact embodied than with Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey’s 80 yd run last week on the second play from scrimmage. For two weeks in a row, no-name running backs have put on a clinic with this porous defense. With Jacksonville’s MJD doubtful for today’s game, there is no excuse not to have a shutdown type day on defense. From each player.
Doug Marrone will continue to explore his rookies and depth chart. As all fans know the playoffs are out of virtually reach for this team for the 14th year, the rookie head coach would be remiss not to test his fellow first-year companions and give them significant playing time. This will achieve three things: 1. Exploring their talents and limitations 2. Finding hidden gems and 3. Reducing the probability of injury to starters and marquee players. Besides giving depth players more NFL experience (which is obviously better than practice squad time) for the Buffalo Bills, it also may increase their value as potential trading pieces. As I mentioned in last week’s post, Buffalo is one of the few teams in the NFL that all three QBs on the depth chart have starting and solid playing time this year. This should also make Coach Marrone’s job a bit easier in April when he needs to decide where the depth chart is the thinnest.
CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson should run wild today. Every Bills fan knows that numbers are deceiving, but probably no more so than the fact that Buffalo is the 5th best rushing team in the NFL. This is a deceiving stat due to the fact that Buffalo is never consistent with its run performance. The same team that put up 193 rushing yards against the Chiefs also saw EJ Manuel be the leading rusher with 29 yards to the Bucs. If the Bills’ rushing attack was a stock on the NY stock exchange, it would be so volatile that few people would invest in it. Even with this inconsistency and the fact the Bills are away, CJ and Fred are too good (despite the terrible play by Buffalo’s O-Line) and the Jags defense is too bad for them not to have a big day.