Welcome to December and week 13 Bills fans. For the first time in recent memory, the Buffalo Bills are ready to make a playoff push in December and actually have the means to do so. Buffalo sits at 4-7, and currently 4th in the AFC East. With a win today against the Atlanta Falcons in Toronto, the Bills will most likely move up to 3rd place in the AFC East due to the Jets and Dolphins playing one another, and the Bills have split or lead both of those series. Currently the Baltimore Ravens hold the 6th seed in the AFC playoff picture, but play the Vikings, Lions, Patriots, and Bengals the next 4 weeks, almost guaranteeing a loss. A split there gives the nod to Buffalo. In front of the Bills also sits the Chargers and Titans. San Diego plays the Bengals, Giants, Broncos, Raiders, and Chiefs, and would most likely need to lose 2 of those 5 for the Bills to safely pass. The way that all those teams are playing now, that is not out of the question. Finally, Tennessee has to deal with the Colts, Broncos, Cardinals, Jaguars, and Texans. Once again, two losses would secure their spot beneath Buffalo. The Bills still need some help, but have time and schedules on their side. The Bills next 4 opponents have a combined 18-26 record, and if the Patriots clinch the AFC East (which they could by winning the next 3 games), might put them in a “safety game” in Week 17. But for now, let’s focus on what to look for in today’s game.
Expect to see another complete game by the Bills offense. Atlanta has a lackluster defense this year, and has been shredded at times, as their 2-9 record indicates. This should provide numerous opportunities for Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to open up the play book and stretch the field against this team. With the entire offense at probable or better, the Bills will also have all of their offensive weapons at their disposal, which when healthy, can compete with any team.
Mario Williams will have another career day today. I don’t foresee anything less from the Bills’ star pass rusher, who already has 11 sacks and could even make a run for the NFL sack record of 22.5, but needs big games the next 5 games. Look for him all over the field today, jumping around and giving an Atlanta line which has no history with the Bills, more than they bargained for.
Today is a statement game for the entire organization. Yes I know that Atlanta is certainly not the team of years’ past, but this is a game that the Bills should win, and must win. If the team wants to ever shed the skeletons of the past which lost critical games or critical drives, today is the day to show the football world they are heading in the right direction. This week there is no rookie QB, no inclement weather (for better or worse), and no excuses. Toronto or Orchard Park, it is still a home game and must put the hammer down.
This will be the best game in the Toronto series. With the possible exclusion of the 23-0 game against the Redskins in 2011, I expect today to be the best game of the “Bills in Toronto” series. Buffalo is coming off its bye week with most of the entire team healthy and ready to go against a team that is already planning for next year, and will show that today. Expect the game today to be a fun one, even with a “different” homefield advantage.