Remember the first half of 2008 when the Bills were looking like Super Bowl contenders by steamrolling through one of the weakest schedules in the league? They had the heart to come back on the Los Angeles Rayhdahs late in the game, they beat a team that was in the Super Bowl two years ago in the Seattle Seahawks, rocketing to the top of the division at 5-1, and then it all went south when Trent Edwards went down with a concussion. The team was never the same after that. The Bills seemed to lose their swagger on offense coasting through the rest of the year on fumes by finishing under .500%.
Barring another complete meltdown the Bills should look formidable in 2009. Starting at home against the Patriots, a team they almost defeated at the end of last year (sans Tom Brady) they should be capable of putting up a fight with their much improved pass rush helped by rookie Aaron Maybin coming on in third down situations. Remember what Strahan and company did to Brady two years ago in the Super Bowl?
It is clear the Bills learned something from that game.
While they were only blown out once last year against the Super Bowl bound Cardinals, they lost a number of heartbreakers that should have wound up in the win column (what else is new, right?). Consider that they had three games where they only mustered three points or less, four games they lost decided by ten points or less, and if those losses had been turned into wins they could have secured a Wild Card spot.
My prediction is that Terrell Owens will kick-start the struggling offense and turn these close losses into dominating victories. Buffalo needs a little controversy, a little edginess, perhaps toughness that Owens will bring to the table.
Think about it for a second. Tom Brady is coming off a debilitating injury. Who knows how he'll bounce back. The Jets are rebuilding and their QB is a rookie. The Dolphins are one injury to Chad Pennington away from the basement again. Besides the Bills have a top tier receiver to go up and catch a few long bombs, and draw a double team away from Lee Evans. If the defense sits back and plays nickel or dime the rushing attack may have to prove that they can pick up the slack on Offense.
The team needs to play two halves of the season with consistency. With Dick Jauron clinging to his job in a one year contract extension he has added pressure to prove he is worthy of staying employed. The Bills have finished 7-9 for three straight seasons under Jauron, and it is time to start seeing results. You heard it here first, 2009 will be the year to see some measure of improvement on both sides of the ball for the Buffalo Bills.
The addition of Terrell Owens forces the defense to make hard decisions about putting eight in the box to stop the run. This will eventually add up to more points on the board. Scoring points takes pressure off the defense, and puts pressure on the opposition. This will wind up creating wins and perhaps a division title. Owens is that type of marquee difference maker who can put the Bills over the hump.
Owens is 35. I'm predicting there's at least one more 1,000 yard receiving season in his muscular body somewhere. Right?
My BOLD Prediction... The Bills will post at least 12 wins and win the AFC East Division for the first time since before the torrid Johnson-Flutie QB controversy.