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The Way I See It... From the Desk of Ed Kilgore

Bengals Bash Bills 27-10

Everything lined up perfectly for the Bills Divisional playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals at High Mark Stadium.

 

Damar Hamlin was in the house, and the crowd of over 70,000 roared when he waved.  Then it started snowing with no wind to speak of.  Where else would you rather be?

 

Little did most of us around here realize, this was a bad time to play the Bengals, who were also impacted by Hamlin’s on the field fight for his life 3 weeks ago in Cincinnati.  While Bengals players and coaches were all in on cancelling the game, the NFL’s reshuffling of the playoff format seemed to heavily favor the Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.

 

Then to top off the disrespect, oddsmakers installed the Bills as 4 point favorites, and the line had moved to 6 by kickoff time.  So the defending AFC Champs and near Super Bowl winners were almost a touchdown underdog?

 

It was fools’ gold.

 

The Bengals were missing 3 starting offensive linemen, and the conventional wisdom was that even without Von Miler, the Bills at home could put some pressure on Joe Burrow while handling the Bengals sputtering rushing game.

 

If this was a boxing match it would have been stopped.  The Bengals dominated every aspect of the game from start to finish in a 27-10 win that crushed the Bills Super Bowl aspirations.  Again.

 

Burrow was great.  Easily the best performance by a Bills opposing qb all year, including Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.  Burrow’s stats weren’t gaudy, but impressive under the conditions.  He passed for 242 yards and 2 TD’s with no turnovers, and the Bengals rushed for another 172 to outgain the Bills 412 to 325.

 

This one wasn’t on Josh Allen, who will remain in the discussion of top NFL qb’s, but anybody thinking Burrow isn’t in that category with Allen and Mahomes just needs to look at the film.  Burrow even outrushed Allen 31-26, as the Bengals D shut down the Bills running game.  Allen was hit often, as he wound up with 265 yards, one rushing TD and one interception that came in the final minutes.

 

It’s just mind blowing how dominant the Bengals were in every aspect of this game.  Their banged up O-line manhandled the Bills front 4, and the Bengals D line dominated the Bills up front.  No doubt this makes a few Bills bashers in the national media (no need to name them, you know who they are) extremely happy to be right.  The Bills were overrated.  Good, but not championship caliber.

 

This is a devastating loss for the Bills, who have fallen a game short of the AFC title game 2 years in a row after reaching it 3 years ago. GM Brandon Beane, applauded for building a talented roster that included some cagey draft moves to land Allen and LB Tremaine Edmunds,  faces some heat.  Ditto for HC Sean McDermott, who was badly outcoached by the Bengals’ Zac Taylor in this one.

 

Although Stefon Diggs bolted out of the lockerroom after the game, McDermott said it wasn’t something he was concerned about.  Allen was just the opposite, lingering at his locker much longer than usual.

 

Beane now faces a huge challenge.  He has a franchise qb to build around, and Allen gave it all he had in this one.  But he needs help.  The Bills face some large salary cap hurdles now, which means some familiar names might have to go.

 

Right now it’s difficult to think about “next year”, but the QB and other key pieces are here, so no reason to believe the Bills won’t be a strong contender next season.  But for now, the pecking order has changed.  It’s Cincy-KC or the other way, and who knows what the ambitious Dolphins might do to push the Bills in the division?

 

Still, this season can’t be, and shouldn’t be, defined by one game, however disappointing.

 

The Bills became a national favorite after going through a gauntlet of events.

 

The Tops shootings.  The snow storms that changed the Bills schedule. And leading the way, the stunning collapse of Hamlin 3 weeks ago in Cincinnati, where an entire nation watched players and fans come together. It’s a miracle Hamlin’s life was spared, and his eventual full recovery is heart warming.  This was a special season, even though it ended so unexpectedly.

 

As Marv Levy put it, quoting Sir Andrew Barton, “Fight on my men! I am hurt, but I am not slain.  I’ll lay me down(e) and bleed awhile, and then I’ll rise and fight again.”

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

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Bills Face Confident Bengals

For a team that is a 5 ½ point underdog, the Cincinnati Bengals are almost strutting into Highmark Stadium for Sunday’s Divisional playoff game against the Bills.  To say they’re confident is an understatement.

 

Certainly the fact they’re defending AFC Champions and almost a Super Bowl winner is part of it, and so is the fact they’ve won their last 9 games.

 

Part of this is perception.

 

The Bengals were flying in the 1st quarter of the Monday Night game almost 3 weeks ago now that was shockingly halted and then cancelled due to Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffering cardiac arrest after tackling Bengals receiver Tee Higgins.  His heart stopped on the field, but the medical response and recovery have been a national feel good story. A coming together story that no doubt will continue before the game Sunday as Bills fans and Bengals fans exchange greetings.

 

That will disappear once the game is underway, but the bond between Bengals and Bills fans is unique in the NFL. Hamlin is doing great, and Higgins plans to meet with him before the game if it can be arranged. Higgins was shaken by the reaction of some over zealous fans who blamed him for the Hamlin injury on social media, but it was a play that happens several times a game with no problem.

 

Back to the Bengals confidence.

 

In the Monday Night game, the Bengals took the opening kickoff and marched to a quick TD.  The Bills then answered with a drive that stalled for a field goal, and the Bengals were driving again near midfield when the Hamlin collapse stopped the game.

 

Some Cincinnati media people say the Bengals, among themselves, feel they learned a lot about the Bills in that brief meeting.  Yep, leading 7-3 with less than a quarter played and they’ve learned something?

 

Ridiculous if true.

 

The Bills, who’ve won 8 straight games, trailed by 6 or more points in the second quarter of 5 games this season.

 

They won all 5.

 

Maybe a bigger reason for this confidence; running back Joe Mixon said more than once this week that the AFC path to the Super Bowl goes through the Bengals, who are the ‘big dog’ of the AFC.  The Bills and Chiefs might beg to differ.  But why not be confident? The Bengals have Joe Burrow. 

 

They seem to forget that while the Bills struggled in their Wild Card game against the injury-riddled Dolphins, the Bengals were a fumbled goal line dive away from losing to the Jackson-less Ravens.

 

And then there’s Josh Allen, and the growing perception that he’s becoming a turnover machine.  Many national media types, and even some Bills fans, are buying into that narrative after the 3 turnover game against Miami.  Yet even with the turnovers, including a sack/fumble that turned into a TD, the Bills gained over 420 yards and scored 34 points.

 

Burrow is considered by some to be Allen’s equal or better, but I’m not buying it. Patrick Mahomes is hard to argue against so far, but the rap on Allen is more perception than reality in my view.

 

Burrow and Allen have both thrown 35 touchdowns.  Burrow has 12 int’s while Allen has 14.  Burrow has lost 3 fumbles and Allen 5.  That’s a difference of four turnovers in 17 games, and even at that, the Bills have a plus point differential of 203 to the Bengals 120, although the Bengals did play a tougher schedule.

 

Allen is by far the better runner, averaging 6.1 yards per carry for 762 yards and 7 touchdowns, to Burrow’s 3.4 average and 267 yards and 5 TD’s.

 

The 2 have very different styles.  Burrow is much more protective of the football and will succumb to a sack much more quickly than Allen, who loves to extend plays if he can.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s who he is. Burrow also gets the ball out much more quickly, and despite having some great receivers like Ja’Marr Chase, Higgins and Tyler Boyd, he doesn’t try to hit them deep nearly as much as Allen does.  But.  They all can run after the catch, so the Bills tackling must be solid.

 

Going into the playoffs, we all thought the Bills offensive line was better than the Bengals’ O-line, even when they were healthy.  Now the Bengals have 3 starting linemen including both tackles, who are questionable.  However, the Bills allowed Allen to get sacked 7 times against the Dolphins, who were short handed.

 

That unit will have to be better, and getting Devin Singletary and James Cook some running room is also a must, as the Bills run game is simply better than Cincy’s, even taking Allen out of the equation.

 

Defensively, the Bills are as healthy as they’ve been all year, although they obviously miss Von Miller right now most of all.  Games like this were why the Bills gave him a 6-year, $120m contract. But Miller is still helping the Bills down linemen, and Greg Rousseau outside and Ed Oliver inside need to have disruptive games.  I’m also hoping rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam will get the start even should Dane Jackson be able to play.  Elam has great ball skills and can be a difference maker.

 

With linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds ability to cover receivers as well as run support, the Bills should be in good shape there.

 

It’ll be interesting to see how the Bills attack the Bengals D, which is not without talent.  Allen will have Isaiah McKenzie available along with Cole Beasley and rookie Khalil Shakir in the slot, but how many will get targeted?  Will Allen use his running backs a bit more in the passing game, including Nyheim Hines?  Let’s see Hines get the ball in some open space.

 

Bills OC Ken Dorsey must focus on the task at hand even though he’s a contender for the HC job at Carolina, but I don’t see that as an issue.  He won’t try to water down Allen’s game, nor should he.  Allen must be himself, and that’s usually more than good enough.

 

He’s not perfect, but who is?  Give me Allen all day long.

 

Bills win 33-24.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

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Bills Survive Dolphins 34-31

Because I’ve been around sports for a LONG time, there’s one thing I’ve learned.  The biggest upsets occur when one team is considered a lock and the other is given NO chance by anybody.

 

Such was the case before the Bills finally survived a valiant effort from the injury-riddled Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium, winning 34-31 in their Wild Card matchup in a surprisingly sloppy performance. The Bills, now 14-3, will obviously have to play MUCH better next weekend when they host the streaking Cincinnati Bengals.

 

I for one believe the Bills will do just that.

 

This game looked like a mismatch on paper, but they don’t….you know.

The Bills were 14 point favorites by kickoff time on a chilly but sunny January afternoon in Orchard Park.  The way it started made it seem they weren’t giving enough points.

 

With Josh Allen sharp, the Bills jumped to a 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter and at one point had outgained the Dolphins in yardage 172-9.

Dolphins rookie qb Skylar Thompson looked overwhelmed, and star receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle had the dropsies. Thompson was forced in there  with Tua Tagovailoa out, and backup Teddy Bridgewater dressed but is dealing with a dislocated pinky finger on his throwing hand. Despite a slew of Dolphins injuries, including running back Raheem Mostert, coach Mike McDaniel had his team believing they could and would shock the world.

 

They almost did.

 

After throwing 2 interceptions and losing the ball on a strip sack leading to an easy touchdown, Allen’s MVP candidacy may have expired.  His wide open and aggressive style can backfire at times, but the Bills allow it because his mental toughness and drive overshadow the occasional miscues. Let me add here, that Allen’s arm now looks fully healthy, and a couple of his downfield efforts narrowly missed connecting.

 

So it was again.  With Allen, you’re never out of the game. Sometimes he makes it more interesting than we’d like.

 

After the fast 17-0 start, the Dolphins were down only 20-17 at the half. After a quick 3 and out, the Bills had the ball.  Oh oh. Deep in their own territory, Allen was strip sacked by Eric Rowe at the Bills 17, and eventually Zach Sieler recovered in the end zone for a gift TD that gave the underdog Fins a stunning 24-20 lead.

 

This was getting real about now.

 

But Allen kept his poise, and drove the Bills to a pair of TD’s in the 3rd quarter with a 6 yard toss to Cole Beasley and later a 23 yard strike to Gabe Davis, who made one of those toe tapping specials in the end zone to make it 34-24.  Great to see Davis reemerge as a threat. He had 6 catches for 113 yards and the TD, with Stefon Diggs adding 7 catches for 114 yards.

 

Allen, despite the 3 turnovers, finished with a career playoff high of 354 yards (23-39), 3 TD’s and 2 int’s.  He was also sacked 7 times as the Dolphins variety of blitz packages did cause some disruption.  The Bills were without Isaiah McKenzie, giving Beasly a chance, and rookie Khalil Shakir added 3 catches for 51 yards. Shakir made some clutch grabs in traffic as the Bills coaches show more and more faith in him.

 

The Dolphins did keep Allen from a big rushing day – 4 carries for 20 yards – but Devin Singletary had 48 yards on 10 carries and James Cook added 39 on 12 trips.  Singletary actually sealed the game with a 3rd and 7 run late in the 4th quarter, where he carried tacklers the last 5 yards to gain the first down and effectively end the game.

 

Defensively, the Bills clamped down on the Dolphins running game, in part because Raheem Mostert was out, allowing just 42 yards on 21 carries.  That’s just 2 yards per carry.  Thompson completed only 18-45 for 220 yards and was sacked 4 times.  The rookie did show a lot of mobility and a strong arm, and Hill was held to 69 yards and Waddle 44.

Matt Milano celebrated being named All-Pro with a couple sacks and 2 tackles for loss, while Tremaine Edmunds made plays all over the field.

 

One highlight of the game, as fans continue to honor Damar Hamlin with their #3’s being worn in different ways, was an interception by Dean Marlowe, who is playing in Hamlin’s safety spot.  Hamlin actually made a trip to visit the Bills at practice earlier in the week.

 

So why was this game so close?  Should we just assume the Bills aren’t as good as we thought?

 

No.

 

The Bills won’t use this as an excuse, but you just can’t convince me the emotional ups and downs of the past few weeks didn’t play a part.  The early 17-0 lead probably didn’t help.

 

But with no significant injuries we’re aware of, the Bills are exactly where they want to be.  The defending AFC Champion and almost Super Bowl winning Cincinnati Bengals are right here.  They’ve gone from cocky to just plain arrogant, with QB Joe Burrow stating right out the Bengals are a Super Bowl legacy team.

 

We’ve been waiting all year for the Bills to put an entire game together, and next weekend will be the opportunity to continue the dream.

 

Can’t wait.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

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Bills Respect Tua-less Dolphins

After all the Bills have been through this season, just about every NFL expert has already moved the Bills into the Divisional Round of the playoffs even before they take the field against the Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium Sunday.

 

How hard can it be, right? The Bills were already 10 point favorites in their Wildcard playoff game, and that line jumped to 13 ½ when we learned Tua Tagovailoa would not play.  This is actually a relief, because most of us cringe at the thought of Tagovailoa going down with another concussion.

 

Rookie Skyler Thompson, a 7th round draft pick, will start at qb with backup Teddy Bridgewater available despite a dislocated pinky finger on his throwing hand.  Thompson is a good athlete with a strong arm, but this is a tough spot for him against a Bills defense that is getting healthier each week.

 

It’ll be awhile before NFL players everywhere will take injuries for granted.  Only now that Damar Hamlin is home and expected to fully recover from his cardiac arrest in Cincinnati just under 2 weeks ago can the Bills focus on the task at hand.  Number 3 will still be a part of the Bills mindset Sunday.

 

The Bengals have a similar must focus situation, as they are 9 ½ point favorites over the Ravens, a jump of 3 ½ points when we learned Lamar Jackson won’t play.  Yes, there’s a lot of speculation out there about Jackson not trying very hard as he looks for a huge payday, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  He has a knee injury that just isn’t getting better quickly enough.

 

Already the rumors are flying that Tom Brady might be lured a bit further south in Florida after this season, as the Dolphins face a lot of important decisions going forward. 

 

So if the Bills and Bengals both win as expected, it sets up a monumental meeting in Orchard Park in the Divisional Playoff round.  The Bills have won 7 straight  and the Bengals are now on an 8 game winning streak. The Bengals, interestingly, seem to be the media darling right now even though the Bills played a tougher schedule and have a NFL second best 169 point differential. The Chiefs, as we all know, sit out this weekend with a bye, but should KC and the Bills keep winning, the AFC Championship game will be held in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium Sunday January 29th at 6:30pm.  And yes, it’s a dome.

 

But a lot will happen before then.

 

Those of us who’ve been around awhile know that virtually anything is possible in the NFL.  Pro golfers miss 2 foot putts every now and then.

 

While Tagovailoa is easily the most worrisome injury for the Dolphins, who finished a topsy-turvey 9-8 season to squeak into the playoffs, the Fins have others. However, speedsters Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle can break a long one at any time if Skyler has time to throw.

 

So how will the Bills approach this?

 

The obvious expectation is that they won’t use designated runs for Josh Allen unless absolutely necessary.  But with low 30s and some sunshine expected, Allen will throw it plenty and mix in James Cook and Devin Singletary to keep it honest.

 

The steadiness of Allen is underappreciated imo.  Despite a ton of injuries and other distractions, Allen’s season numbers are almost identical to a year ago.  Does he try too hard at times?  Well, yeh. That’s who he is. One number that isn’t good is 29 interceptions over the past 2 seasons, the most in the NFL.  But in the playoffs, he’s Superman.  He’s thrown 14 TD passes with exactly ONE interception, which is an all time NFL record for TD to INT ratio. He’s still dealing with elbow and ankle injuries, but he’s one tough dude.

 

The bigger the stage, the better he is, and the Bills lofty goals will ultimately be decided by his play. Stefon Diggs will still be his #1 go to guy, and #2 Gabe Davis must be more consistant. Tight end Dawson Knox will also be more of a focal point.

 

Slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie is questionable with a hamstring, but expect Cole Beasley to get some targets. Jamison Crowder is now activated but won’t play against the Dolphins.

 

Defensively the Bills are getting healthy.  Von Miller won’t be back, but All Pro safety Micah Hyde is also active and practicing and might be out there if the Bills keep winning.

 

The Bills veteran leadership is all over the younger players about the importance of this game. The Dolphins have played the Bills tough twice and that could well be the case again, and the dreams die quickly with a stumble here.

 

It won’t happen.

 

Bills win it 31-13.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

#gobills #bigweck #buffalo #westherr

Bills Channel Emotions in 35-23 Win Over Pats

Most of us thought going into this final game of the regular season with playoff positioning at stake, the emotional edge for the Bills over the Patriots would be substantial. Seeing fallen teammate Damar Hamlin’s incredible recovery from a life-threatening cardiac arrest on the field just a week ago, would have a profoundly positive effect.

 

Yes, and no.

It’s just not that simple.

 

 

The Bills eventually outlasted a game Patriots team 35-23 to gain the 2 seed, meaning the Bills will host the Dolphins next weekend. Right now Tua Tagovailoa is still out with another concussion protocol, but it’s obviously a break for the Bills if he can’t play.

 

The no game call for the Monday Night Bills/Bengals game in Cincinnati  forced the NFL into a backup plan that made everybody unhappy.  That is, except the Kansas City Chiefs, who are now the 1 seed with a 14-3 record, despite the fact they lost to both the Bills and Bengals.The Chiefs get a bye while the Bills host the Dolphins and the Bengals are home to the Ravens in a rematch of Sunday’s game.  However, should the Bills and Chiefs both reach the AFC title game, it was determined the game would be played at a neutral site.  No Arrowhead Stadium this time.

 

Although media and fans are now all but giving Patrick Mahomes the MVP crown for leading the Chiefs to the 1 seed, it’s impossible to ignore what Josh Allen and Joe Burrow have been doing as well.

 

The Bengals have now won 8 straight games, and the Bills 7 in a row.

 

Allen’s running game was stifled by the Patriots, as coach Bill Belichick always has a plan and it almost worked. Allen averaged under 2 yards a carry for the first time all year, but a couple huge 2nd half touchdown bombs were the difference.  He wound up with 254 yards passing, 3 TD’s and one Red Zone interception that was the result of being hit while throwing in the 2nd quarter.

 

Two typical Allen plays turned the game. Late 3 qtr in a tight 21-17 game, Allen was flushed out of the pocket and rolled right. He motioned to receiver John Smoke Brown and fired a beautiful on the run 42 yard strike that Brown caught fully extended at the goal line for a TD.

 

But the biggest play came with the Bills holding a precarious 28-23 lead midway through the 4th quarter, facing a 3rd and 10 near midfield. Whether it was Allen noticing Stefon Diggs in single coverage or a play from OC Ken Dorsey, Allen went for the bundle.  He threw it 60 yards in the air and Diggs never broke stride for a 49 yard TD that put the game out of reach.  Big players make big plays.

 

 

 

The X factor no one could have predicted, except perhaps Bills GM Brandon Beane, was the contribution from backup running back and kick/punt returner Nyheim Hines.  Beane knew the Colts desperately needed a running back, so he shipped Zac Moss to Indy and brought Hines to Buffalo at the November 1st trading deadline. A less noticed move by Beane has also paid off in a big way.

 

The Bills reaquired safety Dean Marlowe from the Falcons for a 7th round draft pick, and with Hamlin on IR, Marlowe was the starter against the Patriots and had 4 tackles.

 

With the sold out crowd of over 70,000 already in a hyper frenzy following a tearful tribute to Hamlin before the game, Hines took the opening kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown.  The NFL actually records the speed of players, and Hines hit a personal best 21.25 mph on that return.

 

Seriously, does that really happen except in a movie?

 

Bills players couldn’t believe it, and after the game several players, including Allen, pointed upwards and said there’s a higher power involved.  Save your arguments.  I’m just telling you what Allen said.

 

Even more mystifying, just :13 seconds (a familiar number) after the Patriots took a 17-14 lead in the 3rd quarter, Hines did it AGAIN.

This time, he burst through a hole and raced 101 yards to a TD to give the Bills a 21-17 lead they never relinquished.

 

The Bills won by making plays, but also by overcoming some mistakes.

By far the biggest gaffe came from special teamer Taiwan Jones, who was  inexplicably touched by a live Bills punt, giving the Patriots the ball around the Bills 10.

 

In the end though, the Bills defense rose to the occasion.

 

On 3 long TD drives, Pats qb Mac Jones was a perfect  17-17 passing. But the Bills D kept putting on the heat, led by DE Greg Rousseau, and wound up with 3 interceptions, including Dre White’s first of the season. This was White’s best game since returning from knee surgery.

Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds also had int’s.

 

Will the Bills crazy season have a storybook ending?

 

The Damar Hamlin inspiration from a near death experience? The snowed out home game moved to Detroit? The long list of injuries including all Pro’s Von Miller and Micah Hyde?

 

What looked like a numbing tragedy caught the attention of the entire nation and even beyond, in large part because the outpouring of love and support for Hamlin was unprecedented.  Network anchors wearing 3’s on their lapels, and on and on.  Bills and Bengals fans hugging and praying together, while players did likewise.

 

 The win over the Patriots was Chapter 1 toward the eventual stated goal.  Chapter 2 comes this weekend against the Dolphins (Sunday, 1pm at Highmark Stadium).

 

Can’t wait.

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

#gobills #bigweck #buffalo #westherr

Bills Refocus on Patriots

Words can’t express the joy and sense of relief most all of us feel with news that Damar Hamlin is making what doctors call “A remarkable recovery” from Monday Night’s shocking brush with death in Cincinnati.

 

The Bills safety is now awake, although still in critical condition, as he recovers from a cardiac arrest event early in the Bills/Bengals game at Paycor Stadium.  Doctors at UC Medical Center say Hamlin woke up last night, and asked them in writing if the Bills had won the game.  One doctor was quoted as saying “you won the game of life”.

 

He still has a lot of healing to do, but the worst fears appear to be behind us moving forward.

 

No doubt speculation about what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest will continue as he recovers, but in no way in my opinion should anybody try to put the blame on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, whose helmet hit Hamlin in the chest as Hamlin made the tackle.  This type of hit happens in almost every game, but this time, the hit was nearly fatal.

 

The NFL goes through an hour long drill before each and every game to ensure everybody knows how to coordinate efforts should the unthinkable happen, and the preparation no doubt saved Hamlin’s life.

 

Hopefully more universities and high schools will realize the importance of being prepared for such an event, even though it happens so rarely.

 

A shout out to Bills coach Sean McDermott, who told Bengals coach Zac Taylor “I need to be with my player, not coaching a football game”, as CPR was being administered to a motionless Hamlin.  McDermott didn’t wait for permission from the NFL or anybody else, but pulled his team off the field and the Bengals did the same.

 

Hamlin’s recovery clearly lifts a dark cloud hanging over the Bills nation as they continue practicing for Sunday’s home game against the New England Patriots.  It’s a 1 o’clock kickoff at Highmark Stadium, and in keeping with the positive news, the forecast is for low 30’s and some sunshine.

 

Wisely in my view, the NFL has already decided the Bills-Bengals game will not be resumed, as the Bengals had a 7-3 lead in the first quarter when Hamlin collapsed.

 

Hamlin’s improvement makes the NFL’s job both easier, yet more complicated.

 

With both the Bills and Bengals playing one game less than everybody else, winning percentages will be a big part of determining seedings in the AFC, and the no contest has a negative effect for both the Bills and Bengals.  The Chiefs can now take the top seed with a win over the Raiders Saturday, and this is despite the fact both the Bills and Bengals have beaten the Chiefs this season.

 

Without going into the many scenarios being discussed, the NFL will try to compromise for some degree of fairness, which means somebody will still be unhappy. What will eventually happen in some way, is even if the Chiefs are AFC top seed, they will have to give up either a home game or a bye week to make it more fair for the 2 seed, which will be Buffalo if they don’t stumble against a Patriots team fighting for a playoff spot.

 

Hamlin’s positive recovery certainly improves the Bills’ players state of mind.  The crowd, which loves the Bills unconditionally as it is, will be amped to a new level as the Bills take the field.  There’s even the chance the Bills could know by then that Hamlin will be watching the game on TV as he recovers in Cincinnati.

 

Buffalo, we need a break.  We deserve a break.

 

We’ve dealt with the horrible Tops shootings, a couple crippling snowstorms that resulted in several deaths, and being forced to move a Bills home game to Detroit after 7 feet of snow piled up in Orchard Park.

 

Kind of a shame that it takes adversity to bring out the best, and worst, in people, but the good is winning out here.  Bills Mafia and fans have raised nearly $7 million for Hamlin’s kids charity, with donors including many national celebrities and nearly all NFL owners and many players.

 

Barring the Chiefs being upset by the Raiders Saturday, the Bills won’t be able to reach their goal as the top seed earning a bye week and home field throughout the playoffs.

 

Honestly, I don’t think it matters.  They’ve won 2 of the last 3 at Arrowhead Stadium and came within 13 seconds of making it 3 in a row.  The Bills are already a close team that has bonded even more as the result of adversity this season.  With few exceptions, they’re healthy.  They’ll be happy to play anybody in a parking lot, with #3 Damar Hamlin providing even more inspiration.

 

This is a crazy season that someday might make a good book or movie.

 

We just don’t the ending just yet, but I think the Bills don’t slip up and beat the Patriots 26-14.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

#gobills #bigweck #buffalo #westherr

Bills Face Bengals on MNF

This could be one of the most viewed Monday Night Football games in NFL history.  It’s already a match of teams with a combined 23 wins, which is an MNF record going back to the 80’s.

 

The Bills, despite playing on the road, are a 1 point favorite at Cincinnati even though the Bengals have won 7 straight.  The Bills have won 6 in a row, with both teams winning some close ones.  The winner of this one is a giant step closer to reaching Super Bowl 57 February 12th in Glendale Arizona.

 

Vegas still has the Bills as the bettor’s choice to win it all at  +350, with the Eagles and Chiefs next at +450. Put $100 on the Bills and get $350 if they win.

 

We can’t overstate the importance of this game for both teams.

 

The 12-3 Bills currently have a tenuous hold on the AFC’s top seed, with the 11-4 Bengals in position to knock the Bills down to the 3 seed with a win, as the 12-3 Chiefs are 12 point home favorites over the woeful Denver Broncos Sunday.

 

Finally the weather shouldn’t be a factor. 

 

The forecast right now shows temps in the low 60’s in Cincy Monday with no rain or heavy winds expected.  That’s exactly what any red blooded NFL fan wants to see as Josh Allen and Joe Burrow face off for the first time.

 

Some good news on the injury front, as Pro Bowl center Mitch Morse has cleared concussion protocol and practiced Thursday. Rookie cornerback Christian Benford is also back after missing a month with an oblique injury.  Basically that’s a lower rib cage problem that takes time to heal, but his return gives the Bills some depth and options.

 

Stefon Diggs missed Thursday’s practice with an illness, not Covid, and the Bills think he’ll be fine by Monday.  Geez.  Don’t even think…

 

While defense and special teams could easily decide this game, it’s the offensive matchup between Allen and Burrow that has everybody interested.

 

Looking through all kinds of formulas rating quarterbacks is interesting, but still riddled with more questions. The QBR is an ESPN formula that has Patrick Mahomes at 78.7, Allen at 70.5 and Burrow at 61.3.  Funny thing though.  Both Allen and Burrow have beaten Mahomes and the Chiefs this season.

 

All these numbers crunched boil down to this: Burrow is considered to be more accurate than Allen, but Allen has a much stronger arm and is a far more dangerous runner.

 

Much like a year ago, one of the criticisms of the Bills offense is the lack of a strong running game, although that is changing as rookie James Cook gets more comfortable.  He and Devin Singletary combined for over 200 yards rushing against the Bears last week, but the Bears run D is woeful compared to the Bengals front 7.

 

The Bills aren’t gonna stack up 250 yards rushing against the Bengals, but offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will mix the runs in there in order to make Allen’s play action more effective.  It does make a difference.

 

Conversely, the Bengals don’t have the run game the Bills have, because Allen plays for the Bills and Burrow doesn’t use his legs nearly as much.  Burrow loves going downfield to Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins among others, so up front Bills D-linemen like Greg Rousseau, Ed Oliver and Shaq Lawson must generate some pressure.

 

While Bills cornerback Tre White is getting closer to where he was before the torn ACL, I’d expect Burrow to test him early and often.

 

Here’s how I see this game a bit differently than most local and especially national NFL media and fans.

 

Numbers don’t lie, but they do if you leave some of them out.

 

Allen’s running ability and competitive drive are underestimated.  He’s always been at his best on the big stage, going back to that 2019 Thanksgiving game at Dallas.

In 6 playoff games, 3 home wins and 3 road losses, Allen has a passer  rating of 106.6 with 14 TD’s and 1 interception.  One.

He also averages over 60 yards and 7 yards per carry, with many of those yards in crucial third down or goal line situations.

 

Allen’s legs will be the difference in this game. The stats may not even reflect how important a couple scrambles or designed rpo’s are, but just a few drive extending first downs here and there will make an enormous difference.

 

While we all hold our breath when Allen takes off, this is who he is when the chips are down, and this is one of those times.

 

A win means a first round bye and possibly two home games and a trip to Arizona.  A loss?  It could mean facing both Mahomes and Burrow on the road.  Not undoable but not the outcome desired.

 

Allen is uniquely unafraid of risking failure, and the risk/reward usually falls in his favor, although not always.

 

It works this time.

 

Bills 27, Bengals 24

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

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Bills Brush off Bears 35-13

So just what do we take away from the Bills 35-13 win at Chicago?  The game was closer than the final score, the Bills took too many dumb penalties, Josh Allen had a sub- par (for him) game and Stefon Diggs had 2 catches for 26 yards.

 

But it was really impressive for many reasons, as the Bills showed the signs of a mentally tough and physical team ready for crunch time.

 

  The Bears aren’t good. However, they lost by only 5 points to the high flying Eagles just the week before. Bears young qb Justin Fields, already over 1,000 yards rushing for the NFL’s best rushing team, was just under 100 against the Eagles.

 

The Bills held Fields to his NFL worst day, with 11 yards on 7 carries.  That’s it.  Fields also had a poor day passing, but with wind chills below zero and heavy gusting winds that’s understandable.

 

Allen won’t use that as an excuse, but he clearly wasn’t as accurate as usual with under 200 yards passing and two interceptions, including one in the end zone. Allen also ran one in, and the 3 TD’s put #17 in the record books.  His 75th overall touchdown pushed him ahead of Dan Marino for most TD’s in his first five seasons in the history of the NFL.

 

No question this is also great news to West-Herr Automotive Group, Nike, Frito-Lay, Oishei Children’s Hospital, Microsoft, Hyundai, Tommy Armour Golf and New Era. 

 

For now.

 

The fact that Allen had an off day, for him anyway, and the Bills still won by 22 points, is encouraging.  He doesn’t have to be perfect for the Bills to win, at least against teams the Bills are favored to beat.

 

But Allen will have to be nearly perfect for the Bills biggest game of the season a week from tonight at Cincinnati, where the AFC’s top seed will probably be decided. The Bengals have won 7 in a row behind talented Joe Burrow, who has a healthy receiving corps again, while the Bills have reeled off 6 straight to improve to 12-3, a game ahead of Cincy. The Chiefs are also 12-3 but the Bills have that tie breaker with the earlier win at Arrowhead.

 

The early Vegas line has the Bills a 1 ½ point road favorite, and no question the Bengals will use that sign of disrespect as a motivator.  Like that will really matter.

 

Maybe the most encouraging sign for the Bills at crunch time, is the success of their overall running game, which started late in the Miami game when the weather turned into a snow globe.

 

Against the Bears, the Bills rushed for 254 yards, with Devin Singletary and James Cook splitting most of that. Both broke TD runs beyond the red zone, which was important under the extreme conditions.

 

But another thing we learned is that a mostly healthy Bills defense can be pretty good.  Earlier this year they held both  Derick Henry and Nick Chubb under 2 yards a carry. Against the Bears Greg Rousseau, Ed Oliver, Shaq Lawson and AJ Espenesa bullied the Bears up front. Cornerback Tre White continues to round into pre injury form. Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds and Jordan Poyer are also the healthiest they’ve been since October.

 

This matchup against the Bengals at Cincinnati has been getting bigger every week, with both teams red hot, getting healthier, and oh by the way owning wins over the Chiefs.

 

The long range weather forecast shows us some quite mild temperatures for December in southern Ohio, so hopefully we’ll see this game played on a fast track.  Allen vs Burrow is the headline, but turnovers and special teams will likely decide the game at the end.

 

Although we can’t expect Allen to be perfect for every game, it’s game like this where his true value is determined.  Mahomes has the ring and Burrow just missed one.

 So far in his career, Allen has played his best football on the big stage, and I fully expect that to happen at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati a week from today.

 

Bills win it 32-27.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

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Weather Again Factor in Bills at Bears

You know December is always going to be iffy as the NFL regular season winds down, and especially for the Bills, who actually feel they have an advantage in cold weather for home games in Orchard Park.

 

Finally some other city gets the weather attention.

 

Not so much last week in a close call against the spirited Miami Dolphins, but this week potentially horrible weather in Chicago must be dealt with by both the Bills and the Bears, who won’t be phased as they play in outdoor Soldier Field right on Lake Michigan.

 

Although the brunt of an enormous storm system will be east of Chicago by Saturday’s 1 o’clock (12pm CDT) game, temperatures around 11 or 12 degrees and gusting winds will have an effect on the football and how to get it into the end zone.  Hopefully the 6-8 inches of snow expected will be cleared from the natural grass field by kickoff.

 

Although the Bears are an NFC opponent, the 11-3 Bills really need to win this game over the 3-11 Bears to realistically reach their goal of a 1 seed in the AFC.  The Bills are 8 point road favorites and the Bears have lost 5 straight, but the weather is usually a great equalizer.

 

That’s especially true in this game, which has all the earmarks of a “trap game”.

 

Bears QB Justin Fields is a better running version of Lamar Jackson.  He’s already rushed for over 1,000 yards as the Bears have the NFL’s top rushing offense.  Looking at a couple recent Bills games, that’s not a good thing at all. Missed tackles and blown assignments must be fixed.

 

While Josh Allen is becoming more and more accurate in the passing game, even in windy conditions, this could still be a challenge similar to the game against the Patriots last season. Gusts of 40-50 mph are expected in the Windy City, where they play right next to Lake Michigan.

 

Bills DC Leslie Frazier focused on the passing game against the Packers and most recently the Dolphins, at the expense of allowing surprising big chunks of yardage on the ground.  The Bills were ok with the trade off, and it worked.

 

The plan against Fields and the Bears will probably be just the opposite. Fields is a scary and efficient runner, who also has a strong arm. But the team with the #1 rushing offense is also dead last, #32 in the passing game.  The Bills will come up with something to at least contain Fields and make him beat them with the pass.

 

You know Allen is going to throw the ball no matter what.  That’s a given.

 

But as scary as this is, I’m also quite certain he’ll have to run the ball more than any of us, especially the coaches, would like to see. If this game was meaningless in terms of playoff standings, that could be different, but the 1 seed is different. First, you get a bye, watching everybody else play.  Right now that would mean the Chiefs and Dolphins in KC.  Then, you win two home games and you’re in the Super Bowl. Not easy, but quite doable.

 

Allen, as we all know, is a competitor, and if third and short or third and goal situations arise, there’s a good chance he’ll tote the football.  This is especially true in the Red Zone, where the Bills have been terrific while the Bears D has struggled to get stops. Still, you can’t put any player in a bubble, and the risk is always there for injury. 

 

Does anybody want to tell Josh not to take off if he sees an opening?

 

Me neither.

 

Because KC’s remaining 3 games are all expected wins, the Bills know they probably have to win this game, and then win at Cincinnati a week from Monday night, and then beat the Patriots at home. The Pats will be out of the playoff hunt by then, which doesn’t mean they’ll simply show up.

 

But we’ll worry about that later.

 

The Bills certainly can’t afford to look past the Bears, and they know it.  Center Mitch Morse is out with a concussion, but backup Ryan Bates is back thankfully.

 

The Bills do have a couple D linemen questionable, but they’re pretty healthy, including linebacker Matt Milano, who was surprisingly snubbed in Pro Bowl voting this week.  Allen, Morse, wr Stefon Diggs and strong safety Jordan Poyer made it.

 

The Eagles had 8 players named in the NFC.

 

To wrap up, I found it really interesting that when Fields was asked if he’d watched Allen play earlier this week, his quick answer was “not really”.

 

Is it just me, or is that worth one raised eyebrow?  Maybe two?

 

I think Allen will make Fields notice, as the Bills win it 24-10.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

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Bills Weather the Dolphins Storm

We’re all used to Lake Effect snow and dire weather warnings around Buffalo in December, and we all know sometimes it’s worse than we expected, and sometimes better. 

 

It’s just weird.

 

Such was the case in the Bills pulse pounding 32-29 win over the Miami Dolphins Saturday night at Highmark Stadium, where all week we were told to expect significant snowfall before, during and after the game. 

 

Not even close.

 

It was cold, not that windy, and the field was dry as 71,000 fans had to dig in their own snow packed seats.  They were loud and proud and didn’t care, although a few idiots couldn’t resist tossing snowballs at the field in general and at the Dolphins in particular.

 

So were the Dolphins affected by the weather?

 

Not at all as it turns out.  Rookie head coach Mike McDaniel looks like your computer genius, and to his credit he had the Dolphins more than ready to go in a huge game for both teams.

 

The Dolphins, who’d looked surprisingly bad in two straight losses on the west coast, bounced back and nearly slipped out of Orchard Park with a W.  They played a near perfect game with no turnovers, and a sharp performance from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who among other things threw a couple of long TD passes perfectly to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

 

The Dolphins also shocked the Bills and the big crowd by running straight at the Bills, who looked like they need a refresher course in tackling. Raheem Mostert averaged 8 yards a carry as the Dolphins ran the ball unlike any game until now.

 

The Bills did adjust in the 2nd half, but it was a physical brawl and the Dolphins were winning the battles, even though they trailed 21-13 at the half.

 

When the Bills play, it’s always about Josh Allen.  Everybody tries different things to throw him off his game, but when Allen gets locked in, he’s simply unstoppable.

 

He did lose a fumble on a strip sack, and almost blew a sure scoring chance just before the half.  From the Dolphins 4 yard line with 8 seconds in the half, Allen almost waited too long to hit James Cook in the end zone for a TD.

 

It was a half second from a zero, and afterwards coach Sean McDermott said if Allen had cost points there, he’d have gone out to the parking lot to slash Allen’s tires.

 

Kidding of course.   I think.

 

The stats just don’t tell how good Allen was, as the Bills had to shuffle around some O-Line injuries, including another concussion to center Mitch Morse.  Allen finished with 304 yards and 4 TD’s passing and added another 77 to be the Bills leading rusher.  Again.

 

But here’s why Allen is a great – not good – great quarterback.

 

With the game tied 29-29 in the 4th quarter, the Bills started a drive from their own 7 yard line with just under 6 minutes left in the game.  The temptation is to be extremely careful, because a mistake down here is a killer.

 

Give OC Ken Dorsey some credit here.  He trusts Allen, and gave him a solid plan to mix the pass and run, but with some downfield passes part of the plan.

 

Allen, much like the game at Baltimore, hit some key third downs and used his legs as well to slowly march down the field. Eventually Devin Singletary in a da ja vu moment, went down just before scoring a TD to ensure the Bengals wouldn’t get the ball back.

 

Don’t laugh.  You want to bet against a Hill or Waddle breaking one from anywhere on the field?

 

So with his O-line brushing away some snow for Tyler Bass, the snap and hold and kick were perfect as the snow fell and the crowd roared and the Bills won it 32-29.

 

Snow angels  all around.

 

It wasn’t all perfect.  A huge special teams gaffe came in the third quarter when the Bills forced a 3 and out near midfield. Inexplicably, backup cornerback Cam Lewis piled into the punter, and the roughing the kicker PF gave the Fins the ball and momentum.  Lewis is a great story, a UB kid undrafted who made an NFL roster, but this one could have cost the game.

 

Tight End Dawson Knox jumped back into the picture.  Six catches for 96 yards and a TD.  But Knox also had a couple bad drops.

 

Cornerback Tre White continues to get back to form with several strong plays, although he was beaten by Hill for a 20 yard TD.  He’s not alone there.

 

So the playoff picture keeps changing.  The Pats are out at 7-7 with a mind blowing loss at Vegas and the Jets are also 7-7 with a home loss to the Lions.  Miami is 8-6 and very much alive and dangerous for anybody.

 

Next up on Saturday Christmas Eve, the Bills play the Bears in Chicago at 1pm.  The Bears are 3-11 after a tough 25-20 home loss to the Eagles, and the Bills are early 9.5 point favorites.

 

The Bills can’t look ahead, so we’ll do it for you.  After the Bears game, the Bills get a couple extra days’ rest before playing at Cincinnati in a Monday Night game that could well determine who gets the AFC top seed.

 

Allen vs Joe Burrow.

 

That works.

 

But for now, it’s all about Da Bears!

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

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Bills Host Dolphins in Snow Globe

It’s gonna be snowing and cold throughout the Bills-Dolphins game Saturday night at Highmark Stadium in Lake Effect magnet Orchard Park NY, and right now the only question is, how much and will it get windy?

 

This is a huge game for the 10-3 Bills, who can all but clinch the AFC East title with a win, and the Bills are a touchdown favorite over the Dolphins.  Despite the cold, the Bills will have 71,000 screaming fans to play for.   The Fins were in the driver’s seat a couple weeks ago, but a trip west was a disaster.  They lost at the 49ers in San Jose and then looked terrible in LA as the Chargers found a way to all but shut down Tua Tagovailoa.  Tyreek Hill scored a couple TD’s and a bad field could actually be an advantage for him because he knows where he’s going.

 

That kinda scares me.

 

Despite the Dolphins recent regression, it would be foolish to write them off now, or to think playing in cold and snowing conditions mean they won’t be dangerous.  Bills players will tell you privately they hate playing in cold weather too, but they also feel it’s an advantage because they’re used to it.

 

As usual, the weather forecast opens the Dome speculation up again, but there is no debate.  It’ll open in 2026, and although it’ll be open air, it will have a heated field to keep snow from accumulating, and a new design outside the stadium to redirect prevailing winds around the structure.

 

While critics always seem to find ways to throw shade at Josh Allen, his clutch play in recent games seem to show he’s back in gear and his sore right elbow is getting better.  Yes, he has 11 int’s now, as does Patrick Mahomes, but Allen has thrown 26 TD passes and rushed for 6 more. Allen, like it or not, is still the Bills leading rusher with 628 yards and a 6.3 per carry average. With the conditions we’ll see, he’ll be off and running again.

 

Allen did receive an early Christmas present this week, when out of the blue Cole Beasley rejoined the Bills in a surprising move.  Surprising in part because of Beasley’s stance on being vaccinated and some unkind remarks about Buffalo after he was released. The Bills had made the decision that with a big cap hit and his age, they were moving on.  It didn’t work out when Jamison Crowder got hurt and Isaiah McKenzie just hasn’t been consistent from the slot position.  Beasley could be activated off the practice squad and play right now, after looking quick and sure handed in practice.

 

Beasley also handled a press conference extremely well I thought, by taking some of the responsibility for his acrimonious departure. Bills players and fans are overwhelmingly excited to have him back, and that includes Allen, who was missing his 3rd down go to guy.

 

Despite missing Von Miller, which we can say every week now, the Bills defense is pretty healthy now.  They’ll use the same formula that worked against the Jets, by getting pressure on Tagovailoa while also paying close attention to the Fins running game. They’ll try to jam Hill and always dangerous Jaylen Waddle to upset Tagovailoa’s timing throws, as the Chargers did successfully last week.

 

This can be a dangerous game if the Bills don’t take the Dolphins seriously, but I don’t think that happens.

 

Bills win it 27-10.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

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Bills Beat Jets and Weather

If we knew going into this game the Bills would muster only 232 total yards against a scary Jets defense, we’d think the Jets probably pulled off  a 2 game sweep.

 

Not so.

 

Weather conditions made this a very different game.  Steady rain or snow flurries along with gusting and changing winds turned this game into a game of not blinking.  It’s an inarguable fact conditions like this affect the game a lot. While many Bills fans are still clamoring about how this shows we need a dome, the truth is the Bills are built for December and January in Western NY, and that’s especially true of their franchise quarterback.

 

The Bills earned a 20-12 win over the Jets in part because of what Josh Allen didn’t do as opposed to what he did.  Because he didn’t turn the ball over, he more than atoned for a two interception game that led directly to a 20-17 loss to the Jets in New Jersey a month ago. Now, at 10-3, the Bills remain the AFC top seed with 4 games to play, including here next Saturday night against the Dolphins. A win next week would almost ensure an AFC East title.

 

As usual with these Bills, they go as Allen goes, and that doesn’t always mean he has to throw for over 300 yards and 3 or 4 TD’s.

 

It was obvious right away both teams were facing tough defenses in adverse conditions, and the teams traded punts most the first quarter.  Allen looked uncomfortable early, off target at times, and a couple drops didn’t help. The running game was sputtering as well.

 

But late 2nd quarter with still no points, the Bills caught a break when they drew the Jets offsides on a 4th and short from their own 39.  That kept the drive alive, and Allen hit tight end Dawson Knox with a 24 yard toss capped by Knox’s summersault into the corner of the end zone.  Knox had 4 catches for 41 yards as the Jets muzzled Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, holding them to 3 catches each and a total of 68 yards. 

 

Not only that, for the most part the Bills couldn’t run it either.  Allen wound up with 47 yards rushing and Devin Singletary 39 more.  Despite that, Allen kept his cool. He didn’t force anything and didn’t play hero ball when sacked 3 times. His 147 yards passing don’t really tell the story. He had a TD pass and another 5 yard rushing TD and did what winners do.  Make plays when they matter and avoid mistakes.

 

Despite a strong effort from the Bills defense, now getting used to life without Von Miller, Jets quarterback Mike White and his receivers were impressive. He shrugged off a 4 interception day here in a blowout loss a year ago with 268 yards passing and no touchdowns or int’s.  Some of those yards came late with the Bills in prevent, but he was battling. Big hits by Ed Oliver and later Matt Milano knocked him out of the game, but he came back each time despite obvious rib discomfort.  Jets receivers Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore combined for a dozen catches and 138 yards, with several of the catches heavily contested.

 

A shoutout to defensive end Greg Rousseau, who had a couple sacks and a forced fumble, Oliver, Milano, Tremaine Edmunds and Shaq Lawson all played well.  Safety Demar Hamlin forced a fumble, and cornerback Tre White played nearly the entire game with no physical setbacks.  White was picked on a bit, but his rustiness is wearing off quickly and it’s huge for the Bills to get him back for the stretch run.

 

The usually reliable Bills Special Teams did have one breakdown that nearly cost the game. Punter Sam Martin, whose name is seldom called, had a punt blocked for a safety in the 4th quarter with the Bills up 20-7.  Now, it’s 20-9 and the Jets get the ball. But the D weathered the storm, and Martin had 7 solid punts including two downed inside the Jets 10.  Tyler Bass was 2-2 in field goals including a 49 yarder, and new Bill and punt returner Nyheim Hines returned 3 punts for 42 yards.  Hines is a great acquisition for his sure hands and nerves of steel as a punt returner.  He never lets the ball hit the ground.

 

So now the Bills appear to come out of the game healthy, and they’ll wait for the Dolphins to visit beautiful Orchard Park next Saturday night.  We can only hope the weatherman/woman cooperates. 

 

A little wind and snow would be perfect.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

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Bills Brace for Jets

By now the shock of news that Von Miller is out for the season with a torn ACL is wearing off, but then again, so is the euphoria of the Bills leap back into the AFC top seed position.

Miller’s attitude has been positive, and he plans to be present in practice and on the sidelines encouraging his D-line buddies and offering tips if he observes something useful.

 

Miller also said this week after a meeting with Odell Beckham Jr. at Josh Allen’s house “we’ve done all we can do”, which sounds like OBJ is probably gonna land elsewhere.  No biggie, since it’s unlikely he’s even ready to play this season.

 

Reality is the Bills have no margin for error now, starting with the Jets on Sunday. The Bills are hefty 10 point favorites.  At 9-3, the Bills still have 5 games left and 3 of them are AFC East games they’ll be favored to win. It’s possible the Bills could be a slight underdog for a Monday Night game at  Cincinnati Jan 2nd, but it’s the Chiefs who have the schedule advantage now.

 

The Chiefs will be heavy favorites in their 5 remaining games, meaning the Bills may have to win out to tie them at 14-3, of course winning the tie breaker by beating KC earlier.  But first things first.

 

The Jets.

 

The Bills 20-17 loss roughly a month ago to the Jets in New Jersey was, by far, Allen’s worst game this season.  He barely threw for over 200 yards, had no TD passes and threw two costly interceptions.  He was sacked 5 times, and oh by the way, injured his right elbow on the final series.

 

While the elbow appears to be close to normal, an even more optimistic view of Allen is that he’s weathered the storm of a mini slump and has been excellent in 3 straight wins. The Bills running game, not coincidentally, has also been improving with both Devin Singletary and rookie James Cook sharing the load.

 

Weather will be a factor this Sunday.  It’s going to  be drizzling or worse throughout the game in Orchard Park, and studies have shown the QB’s passing completion percentages go down about 3-5% in rainy weather.  Luckily the wind won’t be a factor as it can be in December here.

 

The Bills loss to the Jets wasn’t all on Allen by any means. The Bills defense couldn’t stop the Jets running game in the 4th quarter when it mattered.  The absence of Greg Rousseau, Matt Milano and Jordan Poyer hurt, but all 3 are expected back. Milano is nursing a sore knee but should  play.

 

They’ll be facing a different quarterback for the 7-5 Jets. Zach Wilson, who had only 154 yards passing in the Jets win, also didn’t turn it over, a trait which led him to being benched in favor of Mike White.   White will start against the Bills, even though Jets coach Robert Saleh promises Wilson isn’t out of the picture.  Not sure about that message, but that’s their problem.

 

White had no TD passes in the Jets loss at Minnesota last week, but he threw for 369 yards, and oh yes, 2 int’s.  A year ago against the Bills when White started due to a Wilson injury, White threw 4 interceptions.  The Bills, even without Miller, will focus on stopping the run, but also on getting pressure on White, who has some talented targets.

 

So how will the Bills react to playing without Miller, their Super Bowl Whisperer?

 

Start with Josh Allen.

 

He’s still here and still standing.  Allen is the man. His teammates know it, and so do the Bills’ opponents. His record of bouncing back against teams he’s had bad games against is mind boggling.

 

With Miller gone, it’s on Allen again.

 

That’s good enough and then some.

 

Bills win a low scoring affair 24-10.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

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Bills Send Message in Pulverizing Pats 24-10

Maybe the bills aren’t in trouble after all. Just one game, but the bills went into Foxboro on the big Thursday night stage and thoroughly outplayed the patriots, winning 24–10 to improve to 9-3 overall and 1-2 in afc East.

As always it starts and ends for the bills with Josh Allen..and the numbers don’t begin to tell how good he was. 22-33 223y 2 TD 0 int…3-3 in red zone.

Credit oc Ken Dorsey with a solid game plan against Bill Belichick’s team. Balance. It’s all about balance. The Bills rushed the ball 37 times and passed 33 times. It’s the third time this season the Bills have run more than passed and in those games they’re 3-0. Yes, with Allen the bills are a passing team, but running the football well makes them very tough to beat.

Allen was held to 20 yards on 8 rushes, but Devin Singletary and rookie James Cook combined for 115 yards on 25 carries as the bills had the ball almost 40 of the 60 minutes.

The Bills offense missed LT Dion Dawkins, out with an ankle injury. Backup David Quessenberry struggled at times and was beaten twice for sacks …one of them was a strip sack from the blind side but the Bills D kept it from hurting. The bills defense even without Von Miller held the Pats to 242 yards and just 60 yards rushing. They totally frustrated Mac Jones all night.

Also great to see cb Tre White with a heavy dose of action. It doesn’t look like he’s lost a thing now a year past his acl surgery.

Sometimes we forget what a long season it is, and all teams have ups and downs …but with the Jets and Dolphins on the menu the next two weeks in Orchard Park, the Bills made a powerful statement they still shouldn’t be under estimated.

Everything that happens is in their control..and it’s way too early to count them out.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

       

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Bills at NE Game of the Season

The next 3 games will probably determine whether or not the Bills will host one or two playoff games in Orchard Park, starting with the New England Patriots on Thursday night’s Amazon Prime Game at Foxboro.

 

This is, obviously, the biggest game of the season for both the Bills and 6-5 Pats.

 

Although the Bills are 8-3 and a 5 point favorite, the Bills are also 0-2 in the AFC East going into this first of two meetings with Bill Belichick’s bunch.  The Patriots have all kinds of reasons to be motivated to the max for this one, starting with the 47-17 humiliation Josh Allen put on them in OP in last year’s AFC Wild Card game.

 

Lots of things are different now.

 

The Bills have had to deal with a ton of injuries they managed  to escape for the most part a year ago.  At the top of the list right now is Super Bowl Whisperer Von Miller, who’ll be out anywhere from a couple games to the rest of the season after they let his injured right knee calm down for a closer evaluation.

 

Allen is playing with a sore right elbow, and he’ll never admit just how sore it is, but we know he can still bring it.  The 36 yard lazer to Stefon Diggs to set up the game winning fg against the Lions was an ESPN highlight delight.

 

We know the Bills are still good if their key players are playing, and right now it looks like they’ll have edge rushers Greg Rousseau and AJ Epenesa out there along with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who in my mind is the Bills most unappreciated player.  The D is much better with him in there.

Almost lost in the shuffle is the return of  cornerback Dre White, who was none the worse for wear in his return from ACL surgery against the Lions.  He will probably see a lot more action this week.

 

The question mark for the offense is left tackle Dion Dawkins, who is bothered by an ankle.  This could be a problem as the Bills must contain Pats NFL sack leader Matthew Judon.  Center Mitch Morse is practicing fully.

 

Now, just how good are the Patriots?  They’ve beaten the Jets twice, but their most impressive win by far was a 29-0 shutout of the Lions in Foxboro in early October. Their most perplexing loss was at home to the Bears 38-15 just one week later.

 

Quarterback Mac Jones has been both good and terrible. If the Pats can get their run game going against the Bills, he’ll be a factor.

 

In my mind it’s all about Allen, once again.  He’s at his best on the big stage, like this one, but he’s also fighting some poor decisions inside the red zone, and turning it over against the Patriots will be fatal.  Can’t happen.

 

We wonder if John Smoke Brown will be in the lineup?  If he can still play with speed, he’ll help Allen probably more than even somebody like Odell Beckham Jr would, coming off ACL surgery 8 weeks ago.  I don’t think the Bills were ever serious about signing him anyway.

 

Happy 29th birthday to Stefon Diggs, who’ll be the Pats #1 concern defensively, but Allen and Diggs are used to that. Both Gabe Davis and tight end Dawson Knox must make plays, and hopefully Isaiah McKenzie can rekindle the magic he had in his last game at Foxboro.

 

It’s been a strange season for the Bills, who were clear cut Super Bowl favorites starting the season.  Now, because of several factors, including Allen’s uncharacteristic turnovers, the Bills are  behind the KC Chiefs as favorites to win it all.

 

Allen will have to be really, really good, but that’s why he gets the big bucks.

 

Bills beat the Pats 31-24.

 

EdK

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Bills Score Clutch 28-25 Win at Detroit

Take a peek at Facebook or Twitter and it won’t take long for you to think the Bills must have LOST their Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit.  A quick reminder here that road wins in the NFL are tough to come by.  The margin doesn’t matter, but the W or L does.

 

The Bills did survive another somewhat shaky start in Detroit just 5 days after downing the Browns at Ford Field in the Snowbowl game, winning it 28-25 on Tyler Bass’s 45 yard field goal as time expired.  The vastly improved Lions were 9 point underdogs and played tenaciously in front of the big crowd.

 

Whew.

 

The Bills are now 8-3 despite another perplexing red zone interception from Josh Allen, his 6th red zone turnover this season, which is more than he had the previous 3 seasons combined.  A huge win though, because it puts the Bills at least temporarily back atop the AFC East, with 3 straight division games ahead.

 

Although Allen’s final stats look pretty good with 24-42 for 253 yards and 2 TD’s, plus another 78 yards rushing and a TD on 10 carries, there were issues.

The INT at the Lion’s 10 yard line early in the 3rd quarter was an “oh no, here we go again?” moment. You have to wonder if Allen’s right elbow is even close to 100%, and also is he missing OC Brian Daboll?  Allen has a strong relationship with OC Ken Dorsey, but the question has to be asked.

 

Is Stefon Diggs not getting open like he has been?  Are teams getting better at disguising what they’re doing to confuse Allen?  The two got off to rocky starts in both opening halves of the two games in Detroit, but put it behind them later. Luckily Isaiah McKenzie showed up big against the Lions with 6 catches for 96 yards and a TD.  Diggs wound up with 7 for 77 and a score, but it was Diggs and Allen who provided the biggest play of the game.

 

The Lions kicked a tying field goal to make it 25-25 with :23 left in regulation.  You left :23 seconds for Josh Allen?  Here’s why even the naysayers have to be careful to count Allen out. On the first play after the kickoff, Allen fired a bullet downfield that Diggs caught between two defenders for a 36 yard gain. Allen’s couple runs got Tyler Bass closer, and Bass ended it.

 

Great players aren’t perfect, but they often make great plays with the game on the line.  Allen came through.

 

 

 

Give the D credit here, even though they were missing some starters and Von Miller left early with a right knee injury.  NT Ed Oliver turned the Lions’ bad field position into a safety of qb Jared Goff.  Oliver also forced and recovered a fumble, making the two biggest defensive plays of the game. As for Miller, it looks like a sprain, but even that could sideline him 4-6 weeks.

With a game at New England next Thursday, if Greg Rousseau and Tremaine Edmunds aren’t back, the Bills D is really shorthanded.

 

Your eyes weren’t deceiving you if you spotted #27 out there for a few plays early. Cornerback Tre White made his return from ACL surgery almost a year to the day and played a limited amount of snaps, but he should see more action in a week.

 

Making things interesting as we head down the stretch, the Bills have reportedly (CBS Sports) set up a meeting with Odell Beckham Jr. in December.  Don’t get too excited, with Dallas and KC also in pursuit of the talented wide receiver who is also coming off ACL knee surgery, but it is interesting.  I’m no longer in the no crowd.

 

It’s gonna be a busy short week in the Bills training room with all the defensive injuries, but LT Dion Dawkins also left the Lions game with a knee injury.  He’s the most important O-lineman to protect Allen, but we don’t know yet whether he’ll be back for the Patriots.

 

This puts even more on Allen, but don’t bet against him.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

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Bills Can't Look Past Lions

The way many fans and national media  are reacting to the Bills mini-slump, and the 31-23 win at Ford Field in Detroit over the Cleveland Browns, you’d think everything is falling apart heading into the Thanksgiving Day meeting with the Lions back in Detroit.

 

The 7-3 Bills are 8 ½ point favorites over the 4-6 Lions, who are coming off an impressive 31-18 win at the NY Giants.

 

But the Bills still have by far the biggest scoring differential in the NFL, and are 7-3 after a very tough opening 10 games. Their losses were close ones to winning teams, and they’ve beaten three AFC division leaders, including the Chiefs in KC.

 

 

The offense, even with Josh Allen’s uncharacteristic turnover binge, is still one of the NFL’s best.  It’s the injury-riddled D that has fallen off after a strong start, but there’s no reason to think some players like Greg Rousseau and Tremaine Edmunds, and yes, even Tre White, will return sooner than later.

 

Bills HC Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane are detail freaks, and one reason they decided to return to Buffalo after the Browns win when they could have just stayed in Detroit and avoid the hassle.

 

But they felt it was more important to get the players home to get resettled with their families dealing with the big blizzard, before returning to Ford Field.  The Bills went so far as to request the visitor’s lockerrooms and sidelines despite being the home team against the Browns, in order for there to be a more familiar feeling.

 

Although Jared Goff and the Lions are among NFL leaders offensively, 7th overall and 8th in ppg at 25.0, they’re also dead last on defense.

 

So feel free to turn Josh loose and rack up some points, right?

 

Not at all.  The blueprint used to whip the Browns won’t change.  The Bills will use plenty of Devin Singletary and more James Cook, and Allen will hopefully not be forced to run it more himself, while also focusing on being careful in the red zone.  Yes, this may mean more field goals, but Tyler Bass is money, especially in domes.  He was 6-6 against the Browns, a direct result of not forcing anything in the red zone, and it may happen again.  Wonder what Bass thinks about domes?

 

In some respects, the Bills shorthanded D did a remarkable job against the Browns, as they held Nick Chubb to a personal worst 19 yards on 14 carries, or 1.4 yards per attempt.

 

The 300 plus yards from Jacoby Brissett is a concern. Focused on Chubb, the Bills man coverage gave up some big plays in the air, but they also stuffed a couple goal line qb sneaks and another 4th down play.  Goff and the Lions will certainly try to exploit the Bills secondary.

 

The Bills have everything they want just ahead in this next 7 game stretch.  They must take care of business against the Lions, and then, they play at New England a week from Thursday, and then host the Jets and Dolphins.

 

The sky isn’t falling.  Allen is fine.  The D will hopefully have Rousseau, Edmunds, Epenesa and even White back soon.

 

Allen likes playing on Thanksgiving, and he’ll like this one too.

 

Bills win 33-17.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

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Bills Bounce Browns in Motor City 31-23

What a week this was!

 

The Bills are reeling from two straight losses and turnovers and blown leads, and they catch a break with the 3-6 Cleveland Browns coming to raucous Highmark Stadium.

 

But this is western New York, and we all know anything can happen once we get into November.  And happen it did, with 77” or more snow dumping it’s Lake Effect on Orchard Park,  and by Friday the game was shifted to Detroit.

 

A quick aside to those of you who now say “See, if we had a dome we’d have played here”.  Not true.  It was FAR too dangerous to even try to get to the stadium. We move on.

 

 

Almost lost in the world wide coverage of Buffalo’s latest snow storm, is the fact the Bills came into this game reeling from two straight losses, with both directly attributable to Josh Allen interceptions or an end zone fumble.  Allen wasn’t solely responsible of course, as he was getting little run support and felt like he had to do it all.

 

In the Bills 31-23 win over the Browns in Ford Field, Allen showed a lot of doubters that he is still a winner who can adapt when it matters.  This wasn’t a big game for Allen statistically, as he hit 18-27 for 197 yards and a touchdown, adding only 7 yards rushing on 3 carries. But it worked, because Allen didn’t try to do it all himself, and had NO turnovers.  He was careful, but still made some Allen-like throws downfield on target, with Gabe Davis and tight end Dawson Knox contributing key catches. Stefon Diggs didn’t get a look until the 2qtr, but bounced back after a hug and quiet pep talk from Coach Sean McDermott.

 

Allen also received the best run support he’s had all season, as both Devin Singletary and rookie James Cook rushed for 86 yards apiece. Singletary scored a TD and Cook averaged 7.8 yards per carry.

 

Did the snow storm and change of plans have an effect on the Bills?  No question.

 

They kicked off and watched backup qb Jacoby Brissett drive the Browns on a 6 minute drive resulting in a TD.  Brissett passed for over 300 yards with 3 TD’s, and he was sharp early. 

 

This was bad.

 

At one point in the 2qtr, the Browns led 10-3 and had the ball at midfield.  At the moment they were outgaining the Bills 180-12 in yardage.  The Bills could do better than that in six feet of snow.

 

But praise Bills Mafia.   Brissett fumbled a center exchange and Matt Milano, who else, recovered.  The game changed dramatically after that.  Even with  the absence of some Bills defenders like Greg Rousseau and Tremaine Edmunds, the Bills D was stout when it mattered.  Amazingly, predictions the Bills would have trouble stopping freight train Nick Chubb didn’t happen.  Chubb finished with 19 yards on 14 carries, a 1.4 yard average.

 

Back to the drive.

 

Allen led the Bills to one of six field goals from Tyler Bass, and then directed a beautiful end of the half drive some 78 yards on 11 plays, capped by a 5 yard bullet to Diggs for the TD.  The Bills led 13-10 at the half, but unlike the last two games, they increased the lead in the second half. 

 

One worrisome aspect of Allen’s much publicized elbow injury, is that everybody knows it.  In the 2nd qtr, Browns LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah clearly, on a replay, whacked Allen’s right elbow as both were going out of bounds on an Allen scramble.   Not only was there no flag, but even the announcers, including former Bills Hall of Fame James Lofton, didn’t mention it.

 

The Bills don’t have long to enjoy this one, as they flew right back to Buffalo for a couple days before turning right around to fly back to Detroit to face the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

Right now next week looks like sunny and in the 40’s, so flying to Detroit shouldn’t be a biggie, especially since we already know the forecast for Ford Field.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

        

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Bills and Browns to Battle in Detroit??

No game in OP on Sunday, it’s been moved to Ford Field in Detroit given the forecasted snow. This is the first time since 2014 that a game has been moved due to a weather storm in Buffalo. Now, the Bills will play two games at Ford Field in a five day span with the Bills/Lions game on Thanksgiving Day at 12:30pm.

 

But first, the Browns…

 

For Josh Allen, it’s the sudden rash of throws to the wrong team near the end zone at the worst possible times.  The heartbreaking 33-30 OT loss to the Vikings left the Bills at 6-3 and behind both the Dolphins, idle this week, and the Jets, who are at New England.

 

The Browns are a running team, and they have the Oline to do it, with Nick Chubb leading the way.  The former Georgia star averages 5.6 per carry and needs under 100 Sunday to go over 1,000 yards.  He also has 11 TD’s. Jacoby Brissett is the qb placeholder Deshaun Watson, still under suspension, and he’s a journeyman at best.

 

With Allen’s recent slump and coming off an elbow injury to defy the experts by playing last week, will OC Ken Dorsey dial it back a bit?

 

Zero chance of that.  Allen is gonna do what he’s gonna do. He went through a light workout Wednesday and is expected to be full go against the Browns. A couple players, including LB Matt Milano, missed practice with non-Covid illness but should play. 

 

Allen is obviously the key to the Bills aspirations, which remain high despite this rough stretch, which they also went through a year ago.  Allen’s size and mobility will be a definite factor in this game, as much as we all cringe to see #17 flying down the field always moments away from a crushing hit of some kind.

 

The Bills are 8 point favorites over the Browns, and no matter what the weather, I think the Bills will be the hungrier team.

Allen is taking a lot of national and local hits for his turnover fest of the past 3 weeks, and the criticism if fair for the most part.  The Bills are paying him to be better, and he will be no matter what the weather this Sunday.

 

Bills win 23-13.

 

EdK

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Bills Suffer Crushing 33-30 OT Loss to Vikings

All NFL fans think their teams have suffered crushing defeats that tend to overshadow big victories, but Bills fans can tell you the Bills 33-30 overtime loss to the streaking Minnesota Vikings in Highmark Stadium was the most crushing loss in memory.

 

Oh I know, Wide Right, the Music City Miracle, and :13 seconds still hurt and were more important, but this one was excruciating.

 

Blowing another two TD halftime lead was tough, but seriously?

The 8-1 Vikings have been doing this all year, but it looked like the Bills finally had their number after an incredible goal line stand late in the 4th quarter let the Bills hold a 27-23 lead with :49 seconds  left.  The Bills chose not to take a safety from their own one because the Vikings would have too much time left. But who could have predicted Josh Allen would mishandle the center snap and somehow, incredibly, a Vikings player recovered the ball for a TD and 30-27 lead?  I’ve never seen that happen.  Not once.

 

It was that kind of day for Allen, who didn’t practice at all until Friday, and defied all the experts by playing despite an injured elbow UCL injury a week ago against the Jets.  Ahem, somebody said all last week Allen would play, and they laughed.  Hint.  It was in this space if you want to check back.

 

What we hoped was an anomaly is now becoming worrisome, with Allen throwing two red zone interceptions in the 4th quarter and overtime that essentially cost the Bills the game. Allen now has thrown 4 red zone int’s in the past two weeks.

 

His courage and heart are inarguable. He’s a lion. In this game Allen threw for 330 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another 84 on six carries, but the int’s were stunningly poor decisions. Nobody feels worse about it than Allen.

 

So now 6-3, the Bills are in third place in the AFC East behind the Dolphins at 7-3  and idle 6-3  Jets, and with 8 games left, there’s work to do.

 

Before we tear apart the Bills, again missing some key players on defense, like Greg Rousseau, Jordan Poyer and Kaiir Elam, let’s talk about the Minnesota Vikings.  They’re resilient and good in all 3 phases.  Kirk Cousins did throw a couple picks, but he kept the chains moving with 357 yards and a TD, and wide receiver Justin Jefferson was simply unstoppable.  Jefferson is the guy the Vikings drafted with the first round pick the Bills gave them for Stefon Diggs, and both teams benefitted. Diggs had another great game with  12 catches for 128 yards, but that paled to Jefferson’s output.  With several of his 10 catches keeping drives alive on 3rd and 4th down, the speedster from LSU racked up 193 yards despite being tightly covered on several of the grabs. What a player!

 

Josh Allen is a generational talent. An incredible competitor who is sometimes the victim of his own desire to win, and it now seems obvious he’s pressing, which leads to poor decisions. Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox did step up in this one, but running back Devin Singletary averaged only 3.6 yards on 13 carries and lost a fumble.  He did score his first 2 TD’s of the season on short runs, but Allen continues to be the Bills leading rusher.  My hope is that Bills fans will understand that Allen is human, and playing aggressively sometimes leads to mistakes.  He’s been the vocal team leader along with others like Diggs and Von Miller, but now the team needs to rally around him and have his back.

 

Everything the Bills want is still ahead of them with 8 games left, they’re 0-2 in the AFC East, true, but they still play Miami, the Jets and Patriots at home, in what has become the NFL’s toughest division.

 

With any luck, the Bills just might see these Vikings again.

 

EdK

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Bills In Quandary Hosting Vikings

Lots of excellent story lines with the 7-1 Minnesota Vikings coming to Buffalo Sunday.  Stefon Diggs facing his former team for the first time since the trade over two years ago.  Brothers James Cook and the Vikings Delvin Cook facing each other.  The possibility of Bills backup qb Case Keenum going up against his former team, or one of several former teams actually.

 

All this pales with the Josh Allen story, which now has about 100 different versions on whether or not he’ll play Sunday. He tore his UCL. He sprained his UCL. It’s a partial tear.  No way he should play and risk making the injury worse with 9 games to go in the regular season.  Who’s right?

 

Vegas oddsmakers, who always seem to have inside sources, don’t think Allen will play.  Before Allen’s injury last Sunday against the Jets,

Vegas loved the Bills by 8 over the Vikings.  Now?  The line is only 3 ½, which assumes Keenum is in there.

 

Bills coach Josh McDermott is being coy, as he usually is with injuries and speculation about same.  Although Allen didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday and wore a protective sleeve on his right arm, McDermott says he’s day to day.  For McDermott, that’s saying a lot.

Allen’s body language, according to his teammates, is that he’s playing.

 

I think he is too.

 

For one thing, this is not the same elbow injury Allen suffered in 2018 at Houston, when he screamed in pain, left immediately for the locker room and missed a month.

 

This time, after getting his throwing arm caught awkwardly in the final seconds at the Jets, Allen grimaced a couple times but stayed in there, and a couple plays after the grabbed the elbow, he fired a 70 yard bomb downfield that Gabe Davis later admitted he should have caught.

 

We know Allen is as tough as they come.  He had to be physically restrained in the Bills training room when it was suspected he suffered a concussion against the Patriots a couple years ago just before the half.  Allen played the next week after going through the protocol. 

 

However, will the Bills want to risk aggravating the injury with 9 games left in the regular season even though Allen says he’s “fine”?

 

Easy answer.  Of course not.

 

If he’s cleared medically, and it’s an issue of pain management, Allen will play.  Will that mean OC Ken Dorsey will have to change the game plan? Fewer passes?  Shorter passes? No running?

 

East answer part 2.  Allen will be Allen if he plays.  He’ll run if forced to or if he sees an opening, and he’ll throw it deep if the matchup he likes is there.  He knows one speed and that’s full.

 

To say this is a huge game not even halfway through the season is not an overstatement.  The Fins and Jets are 6-3, just a half game behind the Bills 6-2, and the Patriots are a game behind them.  Plus, the Bills are 0-2 in the AFC East, which doesn’t affect this game directly.

 

The way I see it is that Allen plays and the Bills win it 31-24.  If he doesn’t play or gets reinjured?

 

Have to stick with my story.  He’s playing.

 

EdK

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Jets Stun Bills 20-17

Wow.  Who saw this one coming?  How about nobody, including the Jets media and fans.  Certainly not the national media, although several observed the Bills 10 ½ point spread as a road favorite was on the generous side.

 

Ya think?

 

Jets 20, Bills 17 final from MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, and now the AFC East race is the best dogfight in the NFL.  The Bills are 6-2, not bad considering that includes wins over AFC Divisional leaders Tennessee, Kansas City and Baltimore, but the Bills are also 0-2 in the AFC East.  The Jets and Dolphins are just a half game back at 6-3 and both have wins over the Bills.  The Pats are right in there at 5-4.

 

How did this happen?  Many reasons, beginning with the fact the Jets are pretty good and definitely underrated.  Coach Robert Saleh has them believing in themselves, and they bounced back from a disappointing home loss to the Patriots with a relentless physical assault on the Bills and QB Josh Allen. Allen may have unwittingly helped young qb Zach Wilson, by telling him during the week he shouldn’t be discouraged about a 3 interception game against the Pats.  Maybe next week Wilson should text Allen to shake it off.  Wilson played within himself and is far from awful, as many fans and media labeled him after last week.

 

But Wilson also benefitted from a Jets running game that simply ran over the Bills. Yes, the Bills missed linebacker Matt Milano and safety Jordan Poyer, and Greg Rousseau and cornerback Kaiir Elam during the game, but the Bills sudden inability to stop the run popped up in last week’s 27-17 win over the Packers. The Bills were in great shape tied 17-17 with the Jets at their own 4 with just under 8 minutes to play.  Get a stop and march down and grab the W.  But the Jets pounded the ball, including 8 straight runs at one point, and eventually kicked the game winning field goal.  This has to be fixed, and soon.

 

We didn’t think a lot about it when Allen threw a couple 4th qtr  int’s in the  win over the Packers, including one in the Red Zone.  He led the Bills to 24 first half points so no biggie.

 

But throwing two more picks  at the Jets, including on the opening drive in the Red Zone, is alarming.  Clearly Allen was pressured more than any other game so far this season, and it’s part of the reason he did run for 86 yards and 2 TD’s, including a 36 yard beauty in the 2nd qtr to give the Bills a 14-3 lead. But the Jets have a strong front 7, and their pressure helped keep Allen to just over 200 yards in the air with no TD’s and just over 50%.

 

This is certainly on Allen, and this will quiet a lot of the MVP and Super Bowl hype for a while as everybody overreacts as they usually do. But Bills critics who claim the Bills rely far too much on their QB have a point.  His Oline wasn’t able to give him his usual time, and other than Allen, Devin Singletary and James Cook combined for 39 yards on 12 carries, or just over 3 yards per attempt.

 

But there’s more.  We all know about the Allen-Stefon Diggs connection and chemistry, and Diggs continued his incredible production with 5 catches for 93 yards.  But he didn’t have any in the end zone, nor did Gabe Davis or tight end Dawson Knox.  They combined for 58 yards on 5 catches and seemed invisible throughout the game.  Isaiah McKenzie has also become an afterthought with 2 catches for 12 yards.  With Allen and Diggs now providing 90% of the offense, there’s a problem and the Bills know it.  I’ve been against the Odell Beckham Jr. speculation for the past few weeks, but now once he’s healthy it might not seem so far-fetched.

 

Another thought.  Why not target rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir a bit more? He was totally ignored in the Jets game, and he’s been nothing but productive so far.  James Cook?  He’s a bigger and faster Singletary, and much more explosive as a receiver.  Newly acquired Nyheim Hines did make his Bills debut with an 18 yard punt return, and I’d be surprised if we don’t see more of him next week when the Bills host the 7-1 Minnesota Vikings.

 

It’s a long season, and Head Coach Sean McDermott has often mentioned how his team needs to keep an even keel, and not get too high or too low. Getting healthier on defense would help of course, but moving forward, Allen must get more help.  Is he pressing now?  How could he not be?

 

We know this.  One player the Bills won’t have to fire up for next Sunday’s game against the Vikings at Highmark Stadium, is Stefon Diggs.  I’m not a fantasy player, but if I were, I’d have Diggs in my lineup for sure.

 

EdK

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Bills Will Be Tested by Jets

The fun times continue for Bills fans, as their beloved Bills go into Sunday’s game against the NY Jets at Met Life Stadium (in New Jersey!) as 11 ½ point favorites.  This is despite the fact the vastly improved Jets are 5-3 under 2nd year coach Robert Saleh. Although 6-1, this is a division game for the Bills, and that alone makes it big knowing the Jets could suddenly move within a half game of the Bills.

 

These aren’t the same old Jets under Saleh.  The former 49ers Defensive Coordinator, somewhat like Bills coach Sean McDermott, is all about changing the culture in the organization, and his plan is working under the direction of GM Joe Douglas.  They’ve purged some bad attitudes and drafted well, but the obvious problem they have, is that they don’t have Josh Allen. Second year qb Zach Wilson is an enigma inside a conundrum. Strong arm and some mobility, and accurate when not under pressure.

 

And there’s the rub.  Unlike Allen, Mahomes and a few others who are actually BETTER under pressure, Wilson has happy feet and too often bails out before he really has to.  This was especially apparent in last week’s 22-17 home loss to the Patriots.  Wilson threw for just over 350 yards (yay!) but also was under 50% (20/41) with THREE (boo!) interceptions.

 

Offensively the Bills are close to full strength, plus they’ve added some speed and depth by acquiring running back/kick returner Nyheim Hines, who just started practicing and probably won’t play much if any.

 

Allen will enter this game with a chip on his shoulder, which is probably a good thing if he doesn’t try to run over everybody. The Bills and Allen clearly lost some focus in last week’s 27-17 win over the Packers after jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead.  The Bills didn’t score a touchdown and Allen threw two interceptions in the 4th quarter, after not throwing ANY in 6 games prior to this one.  It’s hard to say, but Allen might have become impatient watching the Packers settle for running the ball and chewing clock, and forced a couple throws he normally wouldn’t make.  We do know it was obvious Allen did his best to put up a positive front after the W, but he clearly wasn’t happy with his performance.

 

So with the Packers rushing for over 200 yards against the Bills, the logical assumption would be this is a weakness the Jets might exploit.  Run the ball, use the clock and keep Allen on the bench.

 

That’s not gonna happen though.  The Bills purposely stayed in their nickel defense against the Packers even though they were getting gouged on the ground, because with a 3 possession lead, they knew the Packers had no chance to win without Aaron Rodgers making some chunk plays with his arm.  My gut tells me the Packers knew the game was all but over at the half, and Rodgers would be a sitting duck if they tried to come from behind with a passing attack.  Live to fight another day, in other words.  They didn’t get blown out and played a respectable game, but they never really threatened after the first quarter.

 

Defensively the Bills won’t have safety Jordan Poyer after he injured his elbow in the Packers game, and linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds are questionable. Cornerback Tre White looks fully healthy in practice, but I’m guessing they’ll wait another week before putting him back on the field after one full year recovering from a torn ACL. 

 

Against the Jets, the running lanes open to the Packers won’t be there most likely. The Bills think their 4-man front can pressure Wilson enough to drop 7 yet still control the running game enough to put Wilson in some third and long situations.

 

This will be a tough, physical game and the Jets crowd will be a factor until the Bills do something to quiet them a bit.

 

I don’t see a high scoring game, but I do see a Bills win…..24-10.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

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Bills Hold Off Packers 27-17

Who else thinks it’s kinda scary the Vegas oddsmakers made the Bills 10 ½ point favorites over the slumping Green Bay Packers, who’ve never been that big an underdog with Aaron Rodgers at QB, and the Bills win 27-17?  So good for you Packers, you can fly back to Green Bay knowing you covered.

 

The way the Packers stuck with their running game almost made it seem like they were trying to avoid a blowout, knowing all too well what happened in Orchard Park earlier this season to Tennessee and Pittsburgh.  Even when the Bills took a commanding 24-7 halftime lead, the Packers kept pounding.  Then again, Aaron Jones was the hardest runner the Bills have faced all season, as he went through plenty of arm tackles on his way to 143 yards on 20 carries, which is 7.2 yards per carry.  The ball possession did keep it away from Josh Allen and the Bills to some degree, but they were simply facing reality that with receiver injuries and other issues Rodgers was not going to compile some big passing numbers against the Bills top rated defense. This did keep the score respectable and the Packers actually outgained the Bills 398-369 in total yards, but the Bills were never really threatened after taking a 14-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter.

 

Although it could be the Bills were a bit rusty after their bye week, or they just got too comfortable with a 17 point halftime lead, their focus was simply off in the second half, and that’s especially true of Allen.  We’ve become so used to watching him make big plays with his arm and legs, that an average game from him looks like a catastrophe.  Despite a perfect weather night, Allen and Rodgers both barely went over 200 yards passing, and both threw for two touchdowns. While Rodgers had one interception, Allen had two in the 4th quarter  along with a few surprisingly off target tosses both in the pocket or moving. Allen has gotten away with throwing late over the middle in the past, but not this time.  Worse yet, Allen almost never gets picked in the red zone, but a poor throw inside the Packers 5  cost certain points when the Packers were still hanging around. Typical Allen though.  He still made several key plays, including a 20 yard run on third and long to set up the game’s first touchdown in the first quarter.  Allen couldn’t hide his displeasure despite the win, saying in a post game interview on the field he just had to be better, and he specifically mentioned next week’s game at the Jets.

 

This is a huge game for the Jets, who fell to 5-3 after a 22-17 home loss to the Patriots, while the Dolphins improved to 5-3 with a win at Detroit.  Now 6-1, the Bills remain atop the AFC East and AFC overall, and they came out of the Packers game with one injury of concern.  Safety Jordan Poyer suffered an elbow injury and will be x-rayed to see if anything is broken. Poyer did admit he heard a popping noise but said he’s trying to stay positive.

 

There were several positives to take from the Bills win.  Defensively Greg Rousseau picked up his 5th sack and had another wiped out by a penalty.  Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds had 16 tackles, and second year safety Damar Hamlin had 10. Devin Singletary had 14 carries for 67 yards, a 4.8 yard average, and a catch for 16. Rookie James Cook was impressive, with 35 yards on 5 carries for 7 yards a carry, and he also turned a short pass into a 41 yard gain.  Matt Milano had another interception and nearly had two.

 

This was a chippy game, and Bills coach Sean McDermott can’t be happy that wide receiver Gabe Davis was flagged for a late shove on a Packers defensive back, and the pf for 15 yards cost the Bills a scoring drive. Stefon Diggs jawed with some Packers players coming down the tunnel before the game, but Diggs backed it up with 6 catches for 108 yards and a TD on the field.  Davis had 2 catches for 35 yards and tight end Dawson Knox 2 for 10 yards.  Both should be busier next week.

 

In fact, I think it’s safe to predict you’ll see a much more focused Bills team next Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

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Bills Host Packers Sunday Night

It’s great to be a Bills fan these days, and the number seems to be growing not only in America but abroad as well.  With the NFL pushing for expansion to Europe, the exposure of the Bills even on TV is creating new fans who’ve never even been to Buffalo.  My son-in-law and daughter (and granddaughter!) live in Scotland, and they and many of their friends in North Berwick stay up ungodly hours to watch the Bills streaming video.

 

Before we get to Sunday Night’s NBC game against the Green Bay Packers at Highmark Stadium, it’s worth mentioning the Bills have finally released some specific renderings of the new stadium, scheduled to be ready for the 2026 season.  The reaction has been mostly favorable, and to me it looks fabulous.  It’ll be open air, not a dome as some hoped, and it will have a natural grass field.  Awesome.  With current underground heating systems the field should stay in good shape, and about 65% of fans will be under a covering.  For those of you wondering how Nashville can afford a domed downtown stadium for the Titans, it’s really not a comparable situation. For the Bills it was never realistic to think dome or downtown, and the Titans proposed new dome will be nearly double the Bills expected $1.4 B tab.

 

The renderings hopefully end some recent speculation about the deadline delays on financing for the new Orchard Park playpen. Some of that could be due to the continued silence on the health of Terry Pegula’s wife and business partner Kim, and the longer we don’t hear anything the more concerning it is.  The Pegulas are  the sole reason the Bills are still in WNY and will be for generations to come.  Keep the prayers going for Kim, and if that’s not your thing some positive thoughts can’t hurt.

 

What can we expect Sunday night?  On paper, the Bills should win easily, but we all know how close teams in the NFL actually are depending on circumstances.  The Bills are 11 point favorites over the reeling Packers, which is the highest spread against the Packers in Aaron Rodgers NFL career.  Rodgers, throwing 11 TD’s with only 3 interceptions, is in a funk as young receivers continue underperforming, a big reason the Packers are 3-4.  Worse yet, Rodgers has now publicly called out players, coaches and even management, which means this could go one of a couple ways.  Angry teams can be dangerous, and the Packers are still very much in playoff contention despite being a couple games behind the Vikings.  Or, they could fall behind early and quit.  Don’t expect that.

 

While the Packers are struggling offensively, their defense has been solid, especially against the pass.  Granted, none of the 5 qb’s they’ve faced are in Josh Allen’s stratosphere, but the Packers are allowing under 170 yards passing per game.  Allen and OC Ken Dorsey will still throw the ball a lot, and the weather should be decent to do it, but the running game will get opportunities as well.

 

The Bills are almost fully healthy now, and cornerback Tre White is practicing fully.  He’s not playing Sunday, but could be back in the next couple weeks.

 

No personnel moves for GM Brandon Beane, despite Von Miller’s consistent social media  claims the Bills are going after Odell Beckham Jr.  Beane and Sean McDermott don’t dismiss it out of hand, but I just don’t see it.  The Chiefs surprised a few people by giving up a 3 and a 6 to the Giants for former 1st round pick Kadarius Toney, a speedy wide receiver from Florida who’s a threat when healthy, but he’s been injury prone.  Injuries could also play in this, as Bengals top receiver Ja’Marr Chase is now out 4-6 weeks with a hip injury, which is certainly a blow to qb Joe Burrow’s recent hot streak.

 

Elsewhere in the AFC East, the 4-3 Dolphins are 4 point favorites at Detroit, where they should cover against the Lions’ NFL worst defense.  Upset special.  The Patriots are 2 ½ point favorites at the Jets, and Mac Jones is getting the start for the Pats.  The Jets will force some turnovers and win this one outright.

 

As for the Bills,  they beat the Packers 33-17.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

Sponsored by... Team at the West Herr Automotive Group - Welcome to West Herr New York!

        

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