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10/19 San Diego
10/26 @ Miami
11/2 New York Jets
11/9 @ New England
This Sunday the Bills host the San Diego Chargers. It’s a surprisingly difficult game to call. The Chargers would seem to have the upper hand talent-wise, but the Bills have many other advantages. Aside from being quite talented themselves, they also have the home field advantage, the time zone advantage (and no cross-country trip), they are coming off the bye, and a handful of other match-ups in their favor.
Still, the game could really go either way. And that doesn’t necessarily hurt the Bills.
Now, you always want to win. And, if they Bills pull off the win against the Chargers, that puts them in pretty good shape in the conference, having victories over the Jags and Chargers – two AFC playoff candidates. But if you take a look at the next month of games for the Bills, they could really put the team in a great position for their first playoff run in nine years.
From October 19th through November 17th, the Bills face five AFC opponents, three of those being their first AFC East contests of the 2008 season. If they can win each of those games, they would be almost a lock for a playoff spot. And of course, the opposite is true. If they should lose all or most of those games, it would be much more difficult, despite their 4-0 start.
Following the first game vs San Diego, the Bills head down to Miami to face the Dolphins in their first of three straight AFC East games. Miami has already beaten the Patriots and the Chargers, and gave Houston a tough game on the road recently. They are certainly improved over the 1-15 team they were last year. It will be a test for the Bills, especially being down in the heat of Miami in November. However, if the Bills are the team we think they are, they go into Miami, and leave with the win.
After that, the Bills host the New York Bretts … uh… Jets. The Jets certainly have a bit more… something? They have a decent receiving corp, a couple decent running backs, and a decent defense. But overall, they are still the Jets. Brett Farve is definitely the “X” factor, and can win any game he goes out to play. But they are still the Jets. The Bills need to win this game at home, and I believe they will.
That leaves the matchup I have been waiting for since the schedule game out. With half a season under their belts, our young, confident Bills will head to Foxboro, Massachusetts to take on the despised division rival, the Patriots. The Pats have won some ridiculous amount of games to the Bills ONE in the past many years. It’s time for that to change, and with Matt Cassell at QB, the Bills are in a much better position to go in and control the game, and leave with a big win over the Pats. The Patriots still have a decent team, but the Bills are better, and I will stick with my prediction that the Bills will win both games against New England this season. (Note: I made that prediction before Tom Brady went down with an injury for the entire season.)
That leaves the big Monday Night Football showdown at The Ralph against the Cleveland Browns. Last season, the Bills needed a win in Cleveland to have any shot at making the playoffs. They were met head on by a crazy blizzard and other such forces of nature, leading to a 8-0 loss to the Brownies. Was not at all what anyone was expecting, but perhaps this Nov 17th contest in Buffalo will turn out differently.
The Browns showed last week that they are still a talented team offensively. The Bills can score points as well. I’d expect a good battle between two up-and-coming AFC playoff hopefuls, and I would also expect the Bills to put on a show for the national audience. Much like they did vs Dallas last year, except this year, they will finish with a ‘W’.
If the Bills can have success as I describe above over the next month of Sundays (and a Monday) then at 9-1, or at least 8-2, they will be in great shape for their first trip tot he playoffs in nearly a decade. Following this 5-game stretch, the next two opponents are Kansas City, and then home against San Francisco.
Things are looking good for Bills fans.
A lot depends on this very meaningful month. How the Bills perform over that month should say a lot about them, and may nearly ensure that they will play in the second season.
That would be welcome news indeed.