It was September 28, 2008.
I was up early to tee off at 8 a.m. for a shotgun start and found myself in a foursome with an old friend who did 95 percent of the talking over the 18 holes. But he had an interesting story to tell us about the Oakland Raiders after hearing I was a big football fan who actually liked the Raiders as a 10-point underdog the prior week.
Having a friend who was at a wedding at the downtown Buffalo Hyatt, he got word about how the Oakland Raiders were staying at the same hotel.
Unfortunately for the wedding party, the Hyatt Regency floor plan didn't include enough bathrooms in the blueprint.
While the Raiders were having their pregame conference in Ballroom A, the wedding was in Ballroom B, with both parties sharing bathrooms.
Apparently, after some flirting and general nonsense, some of the groomsmen got jealous and the reception was shut down with an hour left to go in the party.
The Raiders blew a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter the next day at Buffalo, and proceeded to get blown out in their next two road games at New Orleans (as a seven-point underdog) and Baltimore (as an eight-point underdog).
The Saints and Ravens were easy calls, considering not only were the Raiders seemingly concentrating on nonsense the night before the big game instead of studying film, but JaMarcus Russel was reportedly seen at McDonalds drive-thrus on several occasions ordering a slew of Big Macs when he could afford lobster tail and filet mignon.
It was a team that didn't care.
Three years later, the Raiders have a new coach, and quarterback.
But regardless of any potential Saturday night antics this time around, or whether the team stays at a Holiday Inn in the suburbs, Oakland is at a huge disadvantage here.
Not only are they coming off a short week, they have to travel across the country for an early game on Sunday and account for the three-hour time change.
To make matters worse, they are playing a Bills team that is fired up and promising the momentum won't end in a buzz-kill for the home opener.
Fitzpatrick, a Harvard graduate, acquired the starting job in relief and led the Bills to a 4-4 record to end the season, but they lost the prior three games by just a field goal.
The season-opening 34-point win at Kansas City made a statement: This season, Buffalo means business, and it is the consensus among the teammates.
"This is a new season, a new team, a new set of expectations on our guys" said Bills safety George Wilson.
"We've got a different mind-set," said defensive tackle Spencer Johnson. "We've got some good new players, some good guys. It's a different year."
"We're out to prove everybody wrong," receiver Donald Jones said.
This is a good offense.
They have a big tight end in Scott Chandler—an essential key for a winning team—and an improved offensive line which gave up just one sack.
Fred Jackson is in the groove after the trade, and receiver Stevie Johnson has already jelled with the Harvard quarterback.
The Raiders are coming off a win over a weakened Broncos team, but Jason Campbell did little. Darren McFadden had a nice game, but it will be interesting to see if the good fortune continues considering the Bills shut down Kansas City's running game.
The point spread for this game opened up around 3.5 points and is flirting with going down to a field goal.
Buffalo, along with the Houston Texans (-3), are a pair of small favorites you can bank on this weekend, as it's unlikely both will break their momentum against inferior opponents, or in Buffalo's case, opponents at a disadvantage.
Ryan Fitzpatrick wants to win.
And against a Raiders team that is 6-26 when traveling to the East, expect that to happen.
Oh, and a special note to new coach Hue Jackson: Make sure you book a hotel in Buffalo that is void of a Saturday-night wedding!
Take Buffalo to cover 3 points
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