Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sports: NFL: A Return to the playoffs: Derek M

Is it September yet?
 I’m sure most of us are already thinking about the football season, about the entire week building up to a party at the Ralph.  Monday mornings spent talking with coworkers about the Bills game from the day before, asking friends where they’re sitting or where they are planning on parking for the pre-game festivities. 
Just a few more months Buffalo!
                For now, the “one-and-done” summer sporting events have already started and now we have a great concert season to go along with it.  For the summer, sports are not our focus like it will be again in the fall.  We can only take so much talk about the Lakers’ impending dismantling. (slow-down ESPN, the season isn’t even over yet.) Baseball has been fun, seeing teams like Baltimore and Tampa fight over the A.L. East lead while we watch the Yankees and Red Sox fight for last place.  This week the Yankees seem to have found their stride, and put their ducks in a row.  Now that the shock of losing the most consistent part of their game (Mariano Rivera) has settled in, it seems so has the rest of the “all-world” team.
                The Big story...

 to the start of our summer though is the same as every other year, the release of the NFL schedule.  We all talk about each game and analyze what could and what should happen to make each game end in the Bill’s favor.  I for one am extremely excited about the Bills’ season, as though the rest of Buffalo isn’t, the additions to our defensive front should be enough to make the likes of Brady and Sanchez run for their lives.  But the weak schedule this year, which includes the AFC South and the NFC West, may be even more appealing.  This season, if it is consistent with last year, has only two stretches of two games each that look intimidating.
                The two pairs of games the Bills will have to work through this season include Tom Brady and his team of superheroes, the Pats, who have been the Bills big brother since the turn of the century (with two exceptions of course) pose the biggest threat on the schedule and unfortunately for the Bills, they have to play them twice.  The Bills also face the San Francisco 49ers this season, the niners had the best Defense in the NFL last year and they were one game away from the Super Bowl.  The Houston Texans (Mario Williams’ former home) is another team that pops out on the schedule.  Andre Johnson is a game changer and has the ability to control the game by himself.  And they have a pretty good Running Back too, Last season Arian Foster finished 5th in rushing yards and 2nd in both receptions and receiving yards.
                But for now let’s take a look at this season’s schedule and figure out what the Bills’ record will be in the 2012 season. 
Week 1 @ New York Jets
 The Bills visit the Circus in week 1 and we get a look at Tim Tebow (if he actually sees the field).  The Sanchez/Tebow fiasco has been a hot topic of the NFL’s offseason and the Bills get the first look at the Jets new look offense, in the new Church of Tebow. 
W. Buffalo 24, Jets 20
Week 2 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
                The Buffalo Bills open their Home schedule at the Ralph against the Chiefs, who quite frankly aren’t good.  In a division of mediocrity, the Chiefs finished only one game behind the rest of the closely contested division, but that was the same division that had 3 teams finish 8-8.  I predict the Bills move to 2-0 against the chiefs.
                W.  Buffalo 34, KC 17
Week 3 @ Cleveland Browns
                Week three takes us on a short drive down the 90 to Cleveland; although they seem to be getting better I think the Bills are closer to being a winning team then the Browns.
                W. Buffalo 17-Cleveland 6
Week 4 vs. New England Patriots
                Put a BIG star next to this one on your Bills calendar hanging in your garage (It’s great that beer companies give us this and 24 beers) The Bills get another chance to dethrone Tom Brady and the Pats.  As much as Kelly and the Bills dominated in the early 90’s, the Pats have done that for even more than a decade.  If the Bills are ever going to be a top team in the league they have to beat the Pats…consistently
                L. Buffalo 17, New England 27
Week 5 @ San Francisco 49ers
                If the Bills are going to be considered an elite defense, they are going to have to win games like this.  The niners, led by Jim Harbaugh have added weapons to their offense this off season, Randy Moss who torched the Bills in his last game against them, along with Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree.  The big question for the Niners again this season is can Alex Smith be an elite QB?  He now has weapons to use but can he get over the hump in the NFC championship game?
                L. Buffalo10, SF 20
Week 6 @ Arizona Cardinals
                For the second week in a row the Bills will be way out west and they will be the late afternoon game again on Sunday.  The Cards finished at .500 last season, and although they were second in the AFC west, they were five games behind the division winning 49ers.
(As much as I wanted to get Kevin Kolb when he was available I’m glad we didn’t)
                W. Buffalo 30, Arizona 10
Week 7 vs. Tennessee Titans
                Chris Johnson comes to Buffalo, a place that was once a vacation for running backs, a game to pad your stats and almost a necessity en route to a rushing title.  Now with the interior defensive linemen Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus running seems to be a bit more difficult against the Bills.
                W. Buffalo 21, Tennessee 13
Week 9 @ Houston Texans
                The Texans lost a huge part of their defense this offseason and we took full advantage of that.  Although Mario Williams is going to help our defense exponentially this season, Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub are together again and hopefully for the entire season.  Along with Arian Foster, I think the Texans offense will be too much.
                L. Buffalo 20, Houston 24
Week 10 @ New England Patriots
                The Bills will have it together this time around, maybe my confidence in Chan Gailey is misplaced but I think the Bills will take this meeting with the Pats.
                W. Buffalo 31, New England 20
Week 11 vs. Miami Dolphins
                Primetime Football at the Ralph… Buffalo dodges a trap game and handles the Dolphins in Orchard Park.  The only thing that would make this game better for us is a mid November snowfall.
                W. Buffalo 17, Miami 9
Week 12 @ Indianapolis Colts
                I think Andrew Luck will be one of the best Quarterbacks in football, just not this year.  Not only is he a rookie QB but his supporting cast just isn’t there and Peyton Manning he is not…Yet
                W. Buffalo 34, Indianapolis 16
Week 13 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
                The Jags are another team who will be good, just not yet.   Maurice Jones-Drew is a one of the top rushers in the league, but the team still lacks talent and experience (I just hope they can find it before it’s too late for Jones-Drew) Not to mention a team from Florida playing in Orchard Park in December
                W. Buffalo 28, Jacksonville 20
Week 14 vs. St. Louis Rams
                Sam Bradford has a number one target, but the Rams still don’t have enough to beat the good teams (I really hope that includes the Bills this year)
                W. Buffalo 24, St. Louis 6
Week 15 @Toronto vs. Seattle Seahawks
                Clearly the Bills plan to give Toronto the worst games we can has worked, the Bills were paid again for one regular season game per year in the Rogers “Centre” in Toronto.  And in return we start this series with Seattle in Toronto.  I for one am not a fan of the games being played in Toronto, but if that’s what they need to do from a business standpoint I am fine with that. But the loss of Home field advantage will cost us again, at least we are able to keep Marshawn out of Buffalo.
                L. Buffalo 17, Seattle20
Week 16 @ Miami Dolphins
                Buffalo gets a late season Vacation in beautiful Miami Florida, the only problem is that they have to play their long time rival Miami Dolphins.  Miami always play tough against the Bills and this trip south will be no exception. 
                L. Buffalo 10, Miami 17
Week 17 vs. New York Jets
                Will the Jets get their sideshow in check by the end of the season?  I don’t think they can.  The biggest distraction if you ask me is the head coach on this team.  Rex Ryan seems to love the spotlight more than any of the players in NY and maybe this year it will erupt and end the Jets postseason hope before it even begins.
                W. Buffalo 13, New York Jets 10
                And there you have it Buffalo, the Bills will finish the 2012 season at 11-5, there record will mirror the New England Patriots and with the split in head to head games the scenarios for a tiebreaker will be endless.  Regardless, the Bills will end the long, long playoff drought they’ve been in for more than a decade.  In addition to the Bills triumphant return to the Playoffs, 2012 is sure to pack a few more surprises in the NFL.  Will Cam Newton continue his success, or was last year a fluke?  Can Adrian Peterson return from a catastrophic knee injury?   The biggest question of them all, can Peyton Manning do in Denver what he became known for in Indy?

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