Monday, September 08, 2014

Bills Take Down Bears in OT

The Buffalo Bills pulled off what, to most experts at least, seemed like an improbably win yesterday in Chicago - on the opening Sunday of the NFL season. The Buffalo squad won 23-20 in OT, with the highlight of the game being this wonderful Fred Jackson stiff arm of overwhelmed Bears' white safety dude. That play set up the game winning field goal.

Otherwise, the Bills primarily took advantage of Bears mistakes - three turnovers to be specific, and a solid running attack - as well as some timely EJ Manuel completions to stay close. Defense wasn't bad, but it clearly missed The Legend in the middle of the field - especially on shorter pass plays. Manuel's accuracy seemed like a problem again, although he did complete 16-of-22 passes. To their credit - his receivers, in particular Mike Williams and Robert Woods that I can remember, made a couple of key leaping catches to keep drives alive. Manuel is a big dude and has decent pocket presence, but he seems to float the ball out there too much. I think he might not have confidence in his accuracy, so he is trying to aim the ball a bit too much. Luckily, it seems his receivers seem to have adjusted to high floaters, although Sammy Watkins was disturbingly quiet.

I don't know what this win means for the rest of the season. My first instinct says that the Bills will still go 5-11 and this was an early desperate win by a desperate team. I mean they had to be motivated by all the bad press they have been getting about the preseason and then, of course, you had the shouting match and the f-bombs exchanged between Head Coach Doug Marrone and some members of the Bills front office in practice last week leading up to the game. This kind of turmoil/tension can sometimes be a good thing and if used correctly can lead to an "us against the world/nobody believes in us" mentality that is great for fueling the fire of a football team.

Of course, I'm not sure how long using this type of motivation can last, especially, when you consider how little depth the Bills have. So, while it was a nice start, I'm not sure that level of play is sustainable. Plus, the Bears were a good match-up, with their suspect run defense, and Cutler's reputation for making untimely (Fitzpartick-esque) mistakes - which were both on display Sunday. (That, and the Bears didn't seem to be taking the Bills too seriously, as evidenced by Brandon Marshall's laughing after his early fumble.)

That said, next Sunday at home vs. the Dolphins doesn't seem like such a bad mach up either. My buddy Mike, who is a huge Dolphins fan, stopped by later in the afternoon to get a scouting report on the Bills. He said the Dolphins pass rush and running game dominated in their win over the Pats. For whatever reason, I'm not overly worried about the pass rush, although reportedly (even aside from Mike's opinion), it's pretty good. For some reason, I think Manual's size and calmness in the pocket will neutralize it's advantage. And I think our D-line backed up by Brandon Spikes is solid enough that we will hold up okay vs. the run. And if we can pressure Tannehill close to how we did last year...Also, our secondary, led by a solid game from free agent pick-up Corey Graham, looked pretty solid on Sunday.

So, maybe we can pick-up a second win, as long as we can run the ball with our trio of strong backs - Jackson, CJ Spiller, and new guy  Dennis Dixon. And that would put the Bills at 2-0, which would be a nice start and maybe bring me some more optimism. But, we will see.


DrD said...

The Bears were 7-point favorites. Nice win for the Bills.

Ralph said...

Yeah, I was fairly bullish on the Bills due to the "us against the world" and favorable match-ups with Bears questionable run defense. But, yes, it was a good, if somewhat lucky win. I'd really like to beat the Dolphins this week.