Bills To Face Crucial 4 Game Stretch

Garrett HirschmanContributor IOctober 17, 2008

The Buffalo Bills are ready to get back to action this week against the San Diego Chargers at Ralph Wilson Stadium.  It's a game that could set the tone for the rest of the season for both teams. 

San Diego has been a mystery this year, showing flashes of brilliance, while struggling with consistency and winning close games.  They started the year as a Super Bowl favorite, but have not looked that way early on, though a win this week would put them above .500.  They are coming off an impressive victory against New England where they thoroughly dominated the Patriots.  That was at home, now they must beat the AFC East leading Bills on the road.  San Diego is well aware of the importance of this game.  It is an opportunity to build some momentum as they head into the second half of the season.

Buffalo also understands the importance of this game.  After a tough 41-17 loss loss to the Cardinals two weeks ago, the Bills are looking to show that they are for real.  They also would like to go into their upcoming division stretch with a win. San Diego offers a tough challenge, but at 4-1 it is a challenge the Bills need to face. 

Up to this point the Bills have beaten only one team of note, the Jacksonville Jaguars.  These next four weeks have the potential to make or break the Bills playoff hopes.  San Diego could be a team the Bills have to compete with for a wild card spot, and a head-to-head win could be crucial come playoffs. 

Next week the Bills face the revitalized Miami Dolphins and their potent wildcat offense.  Miami is not the push over it was last year, and every week the Dolphins gain more confidence.  Chad Pennington has provided some much needed stability at the quarterback position, and he knows what it takes to win games in this league. 

On November 2 the Jets come to town in what promises to be a high profile game.  Brett Favre has shown that he can still get it done at a high level in this league.  The Jets as a whole are still an uncertain.  They have proven that they can play at a high level, but can they do it against the elite teams on a more consistent basis remains to be seen.  I expect them to give the Bills a close game that could come down to the wire.

November 9 features a showdown with the New England Patriots at Foxboro.  The Pats are yet another team that has shown they can play, but can they do it week in and week out?  Randy Moss must be getting frustrated with Matt Cassel. After catching 23 touchdowns last year with Tom Brady, how could any receiver not be disappointed with such a let down?  I would still look for the Pats to be around come playoff time.

These four games have the potential to make or break the Bills season.  It is time to see just how good this team is.  If the Bills can win just two of the three divisional games they stand a good chance of winning the division or at least contending for a wild card.  If they lose two or three divisional games we may be talking about the Bills playoff drought continuing.

So what needs to happen for the Bills to win these four games?  Trent Edwards must become the Trent of September.  He has to play his best football in the fourth quarter and limit mistakes.  Many Buffalo fans are nervous about him coming back from the concussion.  So far it seems as though he is fine, but we will not know for sure until he actually plays in a game.

The running game must improve.  Marshawn Lynch is a very good back, and with Fred Jackson playing the way he has it falls on the offensive line to jumpstart this running game.  The Bills offensive line is to big to runblock this poor.  Melvin Fowler has got to step up his game to the level of the players around him.  The whole line needs to improve, but Fowler in particular needs to elevate his game.

Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel have to start playing like their salaries suggest they can.  Schobel is supposed to have benefited from the addition of Marcus Stroud.  That has not been the case so far.  Neither Kelsay or Schobel has put consistent pressure on the quarterback this season, and for the defense to stop high scoring offenses that will have to change. 

This week's prediction: Buffalo feeds off the crowd to win 27-23