Good Morning Bills fans – welcome to week 10, the time that begins to separate those who will be playing in January vs those who will be home watching. The Bills travel to the Steel City today in hopes of beginning a long winning streak to find themselves as part of the first group and avoiding their 14th straight year without making the playoffs. Take a step back and consider that for a second; the last time the Bills were in the playoffs, we were still worried about Y2K, you might not had a cellphone yet (certainly not a tablet), Facebook was not even a consideration and we wouldn’t be blogging anything (WordPress came along a few years later). I think that puts things into great perspective and how difficult it is to reach the playoffs. Now consider if everything is fair each team that makes the playoffs has a 1-in-6 chance of going to the Super Bowl (1-in-12 to win), and you can start to see just how amazing the 90’s Bills actually were. Yet from what I’ve seen this season I believe there is reason for hope (there has to be anyway) and Coaches Marrone, Hackett, and Pettine, for all of their questionable calls and decisions, are beginning to steer the ship in the right direction. We have a solid group of young, up-and-coming wide receivers, who look like a threat for years to come, the best 1-2 punch of all RBs in the league (when healthy), one of if not the best defensive line, who are starting to show their true potential, an ever-improving and opportunistic secondary, and a promising Rookie QB, who if he can stay healthy and keep his composure can win big football games (not to mention both 2nd and 3rd string QBs with great NFL experience). The Bills also boast the 3rd youngest team in the NFL, which should give fans even more reason for long-term optimism, as well as young general managers and head coaches who are learning to win and gel together. Plugging a few holes here and there could make this in a perennial playoff contender for years to come. With all that hype behind us, here’s what to expect today:
EJ Manuel will stretch the field. EJ has spent the last 4-5 weeks on the sidelines watching his backup and his backup’s backup complete long passes in the NFL against two of the top 5 teams. Manuel will want to show the football world he is just as capable of making the long throw too, so look for Hackett to dial up an air raid like we haven’t seen all season. Also keep in mind that Pittsburgh’s defense is not the same that it was back in their Super Bowl/Playoff years, so this young team should give them a handful.
CJ Spiller will have his best game of the season today. I know this might be going out on a limb, but CJ Spiller, who is finally back ~100%, has a bone to pick. Unfortunately, it’s with the Pittsburgh Steelers as they are the next team in his path. Start CJ today if you have not yet and you will not be disappointed.
Mike Pettine will throw the kitchen sink at Ben Roethlisberger. “Big Ben”, now in his 10th season, has seen almost everything when it comes to defensive formations and schemes. If the Bills will be successful today on defense, Pettine will have to get exotic with blitzes and shifts and move players around, especially if Manny Lawson is playing.
This is not your average Steelers team. In years past, going into Pittsburgh against the “Steel Curtain” would be a formidable task for any team, much less the Buffalo Bills. However, age, injuries, and trades have made this team into a very beatable squad. This doesn’t mean by any circumstance will this be a trap game for the Bills, who may have not played in a trap game in 10 years, but the intimidation factor is not what it once was. The Bills should play smart, tough, Buffalo Bills football, and they could very easily circle the wagons and find themselves up to 4-6. A loss today means you can start planning your winter vacations.