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The Way I See It... From the Desk of Ed Kilgore Archives for 2022-09

Bills Face Challenge With Ravens and Weather

Weather is again a factor as the Bills meet up with remnants of Hurricane Ian in their Sunday matchup with the Ravens in Baltimore.


No big deal for either one of these quarterbacks.  Josh Allen has already proven he can throw the ball through 50 mph gusts, and Lamar Jackson has played well in bad weather too.   The forecast is for light to heavy rain throughout the game, with winds gusting up to 20 mph or so.  The Bills, still banged up, will certainly take these conditions with mid 60’s temperatures over the 100 degrees on the field in South Florida last week.


All eyes are on Allen and Jackson in this one, and their history of proving people wrong in the 2018 NFL Draft. Jackson has already won one MVP crown and is being challenged by Allen this season even though its early.  Both these guys can and will  run it and throw it, and although they’re different the results are eye popping. Allen and Jackson are the only two players with at least 80 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing TD’s since 2018.


Injuries are still an issue for the Bills, although it looks like defensive tackle Ed Oliver will be back, and his disruption will be needed to help linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano make some plays on Jackson when he either runs a scripted play or bails out of the pocket. One or both of them will spy on him at times, and the Bills have been one of the few teams to contain Jackson to some degree over the past couple seasons.


The oddsmakers have installed the Bills as 4 point favorites even though both teams are 2-1 and both teams are among the top four in total offense and points scored.  The Ravens average 33.0 and the Bills 30.3 ppg  offensively.  Oddly enough, the ESPN Power Football Index gives the Ravens a 58.1% chance of winning vs the Bills 41.4%.  Somebody’s gonna be wrong!


The Ravens can certainly score points, especially in the Red Zone, where the Bills struggled at Miami.  But defense is where the Bills have, on paper anyway, a large advantage at least based on 3 games.


The Bills defense is #1 in the NFL, allowing only 240.7 yards per game.  The Bills are AVERAGING more than 200 yards per game more than their opponent.  The Ravens defense?  Dead last #32 at 471.0 yards per game, and 366 of that yardage is through the air.


The wind and rain probably won’t change  OC Ken Dorsey’s approach, other than being a bit more restrained in the press box of course, as the Bills and Allen will still throw it a lot. They might not have Gabe Davis, who didn’t practice Thursday, but they still have plenty of options.


Bad weather and rain can result in more turnovers, and the Bills have to take care of the football.  They also must be better in short yardage situations and in their red zone opportunities.


Bills fans don’t want to hear or read this, but it’s probably going to be a close game.  Oh no!  By now everybody knows the Bills have lost 7 straight close games, after being 5-1 two years ago.


This time it changes.


Bills 34, Ravens 27




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Dolphins End Bills Streak 21-19

We figured the Bills were gonna lose at some point, but did it have to be to the Miami Dolphins for cripe’s sake? The rivalry is now back for sure.


Despite the Bills long injury list that included 5 defensive starters and more victims of the South Florida heat for both teams during the game, the Bills can only shake their heads at the missed opportunities in their stunning 21-19 loss in Miami, a loss that ended the Bills 7 game winning streak against the Fins, but also moved Miami into first place in the AFC East at 3-0.  The Bills are second at 2-1 as the Pats and Jets both fell to 1-2.


Statistics are often misleading, but in this case it’s downright bizarre the Bills didn’t win this game.  They controlled the ball nearly 41 minutes and outgained the Dolphins 497 yards to 212. The Bills ran an astonishing 90 plays to Miami’s 39.


Turnovers were the difference.  The Bills failure to get any and the Dolphins ability to get an early one that mattered. After the Bills took the opening kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown for the NFL leading 8th straight game, they forced a punt and had the ball again.  But Josh Allen was blindsided and lost the ball about the 5 yard line and the Fins converted that into an easy TD.


Other than that, Allen was incredible in the near 100 degree heat. He threw for 400 yards with two TD’s and no picks and rushed for another 47 yards to extend some key drives. Allen had xrays on his right throwing hand but he said after the game he’s fine.


The surprise about Miami was two fold.  The Bills injury riddled defense limited Tua Tagovailoa to only 186 yards on 13-18 passing, but Tua did give us the idea he might be a formidable foe afterall.  Not in Allens’ class, but dangerous. The Bills focus on Tyreek Hill was effective holding the former Chiefs cheeta to two catches for 33 yards.  But his opposite number, former Alabama star Jaylin Waddle, made some chunk plays to extend drives, with four catches for 102 yards.  The Dolphins played an extremely physical game, often forcing Allen to scramble while sacking him four times.


The Bills left points on the board.  Usually reliable kicker  Tyler Bass hit a 30 yard FG early in the game, but missed one badly from 39  yards in the 4th quarter. Allen also hit Gabe Davis with an apparent TD that was ruled incomplete after he’d taken a couple steps in the end zone and had the ball knocked out.  It deserved another look but the Bills never challenged it.  Maybe worst of all in the second half, with Tagovailoa back after being knocked woozy by a Matt Milano hit in the 2nd quarter, Milano stepped in front of a pass with a clear shot to the end zone, but it went off his chest.


Critics will point out this game extends a streak of losing close games to quality opponents on the road, as the wins in the past 20 games have come in double digits.


It’s a fair criticism, but doesn’t change the fact the Bills are still the best team in the AFC and probably the NFL by any measurable standard.  Hopefully some of the walking wounded will return in time for next Sunday’s game at Baltimore, as the Ravens picked off Mac Jones 3 times in a 37-26  win at New England to move to 2-1.


So, the Bills-Dolphins rematch is a “thing” again.  It actually makes things interesting.  The rematch comes at Highmark Stadium December 18th, when the weather is always balmy in Western New York.  With 14 games to go in the regular season, ALL the Bills lofty goals are very much alive.




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Bills Face Challenge in South Florida

Is this just the third game of the season?  Three games in and we already have a game that could have a huge impact on the AFC East and playoff picture later on.


The Bills are 6 point favorites despite the game being played in South Florida, where we might see a little rain in the first half, but mid 80’s temps which ain’t bad for September in South Florida.  The weather might be easier to predict than what Bills may be sidelined Sunday.  The outlook for Gabe Davis and Ed Oliver is promising after both missed the Titans game with ankle injuries, but they’ll both be questionable along with safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer and center Mitch Morse.  CB Dane Jackson is actually listed as questionable despite the scary hit he took Monday Night.


We know the Bills are good.  Beyond good in blowout wins over the Super Bowl Champion Rams and last year’s AFC top seed Tennessee, outscoring them by a combined 72-17, including 45-0 in the second half.  Josh Allen, Stephon Diggs and Von Miller are healthy.


But the Dolphins?  They looked good after a slow start in their opening win over the Patriots, but go figure what happened at Baltimore last week.  Down 21 points entering the 4th quarter, Tua Tagovailoa threw 4 touchdown passes (6 in all) in the fourth quarter in a stunning win.  In fact, teams entering the fourth quarter leading by 21 or more had won 711 straight games.


Yes, credit Tagovailoa for his breakout game as a pro, but credit new Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel and the Fins front office as well.  By landing Tyreek Hill after already having drafted speedster Jaylen Waddle, the Dolphins have arguably the fastest pair of receivers in the NFL.  McDaniel, just 39 and a former wide receiver at Yale, is taking advantage of this franchise changing combination.


But, and there is a but, Tagovailoa is still unproven as a franchise qb.  He’s still small with a very average arm and only average running ability.  The Ravens wasted a fantastic game from Lamar Jackson by blowing coverages on Hill a couple times, which led to rather easy tosses for Tua.  The Ravens injuries in their secondary and lack of an effective pass rush did them in, but again credit goes to the Dolphins for battling back.


The Dolphins are now relevant at 2-0 with a chance to jump right into the thick of the AFC East race if they can pull off an upset of the Bills. For we older folks, it’s also kinda cool to rekindle what was a terrific rivalry back when the Bills were blocking the Dolphins Super Bowl hopes when they had Dan Marino. That rivalry had been lopsided for a long time in Miami’s favor, and Fins fans are just as excited about this year’s team as any in recent memory.


While the Bills have been blowing people out the past couple seasons – 20 straight wins by 10 points or more – they haven’t been winning the close ones.

This game could be closer than most Bills fans think despite the Bills statistical domination on both offense and defense.


However, the matchup certainly favors the Bills for a couple reasons.  Josh Allen has been unstoppable against Miami and they’ve tried a bit of everything.  He only had one run in the win over the Titans, but he’ll have to use his legs a bit more in this one on 3rd or 4th down situations.  The Bills should also be able to run on the Dolphins, who don’t run the ball well.  Should the Bills continue to get pressure with just their front four while dropping 7, they can make it tough on Tua to have the success he did against the Ravens.


The Dolphins are gonna score some points, but the Bills will get a few more.



Bills 31, Dolphins 24




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Bills Rout Titans 41-7!

From an old sportscaster that’s been around since the very first game played at then Rich Stadium, I’ve seen a lot.  But nothing like this.  Kelly, Bruce, Thurman, Andre, Lofton and Marv reaching 4 straight Super Bowls in the 90’s, was an unbelievable accomplishment despite the 4 losses.  9-0 in playoff games other than SB’s during that period and all these folks are in the Pro Football of Fame.  Legendary stuff.


Certainly this isn’t a negative for those Bills teams, but this…..this is just different.

The 2022 Bills are destroying people.


First a couple injuries in the 41-7 rout of the Titans heading into what is now a huge early season AFC East showdown at Miami next Sunday between 2-0 teams.

DT Jordan Phillips, a huge part of the improved run defense, has a hamstring injury.  Safety Micah Hyde and defensive back Dane Jackson have neck injuries and linebacker Matt Milano went out with a stinger.  We’ll know in the next couple days about their availability for the Fins.


Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott knew what they wanted to do when Terry and Kim Pegula hired them in May of 2017, and  perceptions that the Pegulas got lucky after wrecking the Sabres,  just aren’t accurate. Yes, they whiffed on the colorful Rex Ryan, but they fixed that quickly. Beane and McDermott were both targeted by the Pegulas  individually despite knowing they were both in the Carolina Panthers organization, and they were able to land them despite some serious interest from other NFL franchises.


Since then, the Bills have become a model of building an NFL franchise with uncanny drafting and bold personnel moves as “part of the process”. Some eyebrows were raised with constant references to “changing the culture”, but now it’s quite obvious what that means.  They’ve done it and are doing it.


Obviously, the home run pick was Josh Allen with the 7th overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, and don’t think Cleveland and the Jets will ever forget that. They passed on the big strong armed kid from Wyoming for Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold respectively. 


Instead of trying to make Allen fit their personnel, the Bills did everything in their power to help him succeed.  Allen showed dramatic improvement after his first two years, but acquiring Stephon Diggs from the Vikings was pure genius.


In their 41-7 thrashing of the Titans the Bills embarrassed a team that had beaten them the past two seasons and was the AFC’s top seed just a year ago.  To be fair, this Titans team isn’t the same.  Derick Henry is still rusty after no preseason, and secondary injuries make them vulnerable if they can’t pressure the qb. Allen, barely touched,  and Diggs led the charge with Allen playing only 3 quarters. His numbers were very MVP-like.  26-38 for 317 yards and four TD’s with no int’s.  Diggs? Targeted 14 times, he caught 12 for 148 yards and 3 TD’s. 


The most surprising stat to me as I looked ahead to this game?  Allen had ONE run, a 10 yard summersault for a first down on 3rd and 10 on the Bills opening drive.  Allen was sacked only once, and the Oline kept him unbothered. Jake Kumerow, filling in for Davis, had 2 grabs including a 39 yarder in the 2nd quarter. Allen admitted after the game he felt he wasn’t quite as sharp as he could have been.   Coulda fooled me!


Despite the 412 yards of offense led by Allen and Diggs, the Bills D was relentless after allowing an opening drive TD.  Inspired by Von Miller and a deafening Bills Mafia led crowd, the D smothered the Titans and eventually forced Ryan Tannehill into mistakes.  Unlike the opener against the Rams, the Bills D focused on stopping Derick Henry, and did they ever.  On 13 carries, just 25 yards for a 1.9 yards per carry average and a short TD run. 


The numbers on Tannehill?  11-20 for 117 yards, no TD’s and 2 int’s, for a qb rating of 32.7.  One of the int’s  was a pick-six by linebacker Matt Milano. Only two sacks, but Tannehill had no chance after the opening drive and the Titans offense was held to 187 total yards.


Back to my first paragraph about how different this is from the great Super Bowl teams of the 90’s.


With the addition of Miller, some veteran free agents  and another strong draft class, this Bills team is better and certainly deeper.  That helps with cornerback Tre White still out for awhile, as first round pick Kaiir Elam and 6th round pick Christian Benford not only excelled in coverage but showed some physicality in run support. Second round pick, RB James Cook, finally was able to atone for an early fumble against the Rams, with 53 yards on 11 carries including a 33 yard burst that showed the speed the Bills saw at Georgia.


Now how do the Bills keep grounded after outscoring their first two opponents 72-17?  Leadership from the locker room is how. McDermott,  former state champion wrestler, is a fine motivator, but the REAL leadership comes from the players.  Miller, Allen, Diggs and others hold themselves and others accountable. They know there will be some bumps ahead and the target on their chests grows larger. 


Just a wild guess, but I’m willing to bet somebody a steak dinner there will be more than a handful of Bills Mafia in South Florida next weekend.


Call me crazy.




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I'm Baaaack! 

I’m Baaaack!  Ed Kilgore Joins The BIG WECK!


Is retirement great or what? Plopping down in my bigass leather chair in front of a huge  screen that’s way too big for the room and drives my wife crazy, but that’s Heaven. Deb’s a Yankee fan (watched with her dad) so we compromise.  Sports events, Netflix, Amazon Prime and some I don’t even know what they are. Did we sign up for that hon?  Oh. YouTube, which is actually my favorite, especially staying updated on the daily discoveries coming from the James Webb Telescope that can see 13 billion years into the past. Mind blown.


But the Buffalo Bills amazing success story in the Brandon Beane / Sean McDermott/ Josh Allen era has awakened something in me. WECK owner Buddy Shula reached out to me to join The BIG WECK for weekly previews and commentaries focused primarily on the Bills right now, and when West Herr Automotive Group – my first choice – agreed to sponsor this, it was a no brainer.  I’m IN.


The Monday Night matchup against the Tennessee Titans will be an extremely physical game, and because it’s on the national stage and Josh still dreams about that failed qb sneak a year ago, just accept the fact he’s gonna be aggressive and tote the football.  Is this really a bad thing?


 Well, there’s this.

According to a 2020 study by FilmStudy’s Sarah Ellison covering all 32 team’s qb play over the past 10 seasons, qb’s that scramble or run designed plays the most, are injured (meaning miss games injuries) less than the group as a whole.  Quarterbacks who don’t run are injured less than anybody, but the bottom line is that running qb’s are not at more risk of injury.  Lamar Jackson, for example, is an exception to the study, and doesn’t auger risk for the group. The fact he had a 79 yard TD run vs the Fins must mean he’s feeling better, not to mention getting richer, but we digress.


Allen is a competitor like few others, which does occasionally mean he does something dangerous or head scratching.  But that’s what he is, and McDermott knows this as well as OC Ken Dorsey. Another factor in this is Allen’s 6-5, 245 body.  He’s as big as most linebackers and is also tough as nails.


Having said this, Bills fans can only hope it’s not necessary for Allen to have designed run plays as part of the game plan, but even if that’s true, if it’s 3rd and two in a close game mid 4th quarter, #17 is very likely to welcome the challenge.


It’s gonna be interesting to see how the Titans defend against Allen, after breaking down films of the Ram’s game.  They have to be ready for Allen to use his legs a lot, but the Rams game was a bit different because of the hype surrounding the game etc.  The Monday Night setting, at HOME no less, makes it likely this will happen again.


The Bills are 10 point favorites at home against the Titans, who were stunned by the Giants 21-20 in Nashville last week. This might be too many points to give, although the Bills should win this one. The Giants Saquon Barkley racked up 164 yards averaging over 9 yards a carry in that game, and the Bills don’t have Barkely.  The Titans do have Derrick Henry though, and the Giants held him to under 4 yards a carry with no TD’s, something the Bills would agree to right now.


A lot of people are high on Ryan Tannehill, who was pretty good with 266 yards, 2 TD’s and no picks.  But the Bills usually find ways to rattle him, and the Monday Night crowd and improved Bills pass rush could make it a tough night for him if the Bills can get an early lead. The Bills won’t have DT Ed Oliver available against the Titans, but the Bills D-line depth means there shouldn’t be a big dropoff.


The Monday Night crowd at Highmark Stadium will be a decibel level ear drum breaker.  The Bills are everybody’s Super Bowl favorite coming off a 3 TD win AT the defending SB Champion Rams.


Final score:   Bills 31, Titans 24


We’ll recap the game right here.  




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