Breaking Down the Bills 2009 Schedule: Part Four, Where The Bills Fit In

Savior EdwardsContributor IJune 5, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 28:  Trent Edwards #5 of the Buffalo Bills calls out a play during the game against the New England Patriots on December 28, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Definition of Improvement:

1: the act or process of improving
2 a: the state of being improved ; especially : enhanced value or excellence b: an instance of such improvement : something that enhances value or excellence

Technically, every year all 32 teams in the NFL "improve" because of free agency and the draft, yet only 12 will make the playoffs. The other 20 teams will be looking ahead to next year—some with many holes to fill, others only a player or two away from taking that next step, and the rest are left wondering what went wrong—believing they made the necessary moves to make the playoffs, but didn't.

A common theme we've heard this offseason from the media talking heads and "expert" NFL analysts is that the Buffalo Bills have gotten better (at least in some areas), but so has the rest of the AFC East; negating the improvement on our end. therefore we are destined to finish last place again for a second consecutive season.

We're also led to believe we play two extremely difficult divisions from the AFC South and NFC South in 2009. Both divisions sent two teams to the playoffs last year, and the worst team in the NFC South finished 8-8.

Of course, all of this could end up being true. But that's why they will line up and play the games this fall.

I've decided to break down all the teams on the Buffalo Bills 2009 schedule and take a look at who improved, who will maintain the status quo, and who took a step backwards.

Here is the fourth and final installment in which I’m taking an in depth look at the fourth place AFCN and AFCW teams we play (Chiefs and Browns) and also where the Bills fit into the equation.

Kansas City Chiefs

2008 Results: 2-14, fourth place AFCW, no playoffs

Key Additions: Matt Cassel, Todd Haley Tyson Jackson, Mike Vrabel, Monty Beisel, Terrance Coppor, Bobby Engram, Mike Goff, Zach Thomas, Tony Curtis

Key Losses: Herm Edwards, Damon Huard, Patrick Surtain, Donnie Edwards, Tony Gonzalez, Pat Thomas, Rocky Boiman, Quinn Gray

Have they improved from 2008 to 2009?

When you are 2-14 there’s not much room to go but up, but with a new head coach, a new 3-4 defense and no more Tony Gonzalez, getting to six wins could get Todd Haley coach of the year consideration.

Still have questions about: TE, WR, OL, DE, DT, LB, Secondary

The key to their season: Matt Cassel proving his 10-5 record with the Patriots was no fluke and that he can produce outside of the evil empire.

Without "The Hoodie", Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and the invincible aura that surrounds Foxboro, we might be referring to Matt Cassel as Scott Mitchell version 2.0 after the 2009 season.

Chief fans also have to hope the new 3-4 defense can get more sacks than last year’s anemic unit whose low point of the season was getting 54 points dropped on them at home by the Bills, who were far from an NFL juggernaut in 2008.

Unfortunately it usually takes at least one year for teams to make a successful transition to that style of defense despite the personnel on the roster.

Best case scenario: Six to eight wins, no playoffs
Worst case scenario: Three to five wins, no playoffs
What I expect: 5-11, no playoffs

Cleveland Browns

2008 Results: 4-12, fourth place AFCN, no playoffs

Key Additions: Eric Mangini, Alex Mack, Brian Robiski, Robert Royal, Abram Elam, Bret Ratliff, David Bowens, Eric Barton, Cory Ivy, Kenyon Coleman, Mike Furrey, Rod Hood

Key Losses: Romeo Crennel, Kellen Winslow, Andra Davis, Sean Jones, Willie McGinest, Joe Jurevicious, Kevin Shaffer

Have they improved from 2008 to 2009?

From one Belichik disciple to another, but the new one at least has taken a team to the playoffs and two of his three years as head coach in NY resulted in winning records.

An overhauled roster and expectations that Brady Quinn will emerge as a first round QB will likely field a more competitive team in 2009, but I don’t expect a quantum leap in terms of wins. Then again stranger things have happened and this is a team that just two years ago managed 10 wins.

At this point I’ll take the safe bet and say they will be the worst team in the AFC North.

Still have questions about: OL, DE, safety, LB, QB

The key to their season: Brady Quinn, assuming he emerges from the camp battle, needs to prove he is the QB of the future for Cleveland especially in a division against two of the top three defenses from a year ago.

Mangini also needs to capture some of the magic from his debut with the Jets in 2006 when he went 10-6 and made the playoffs.

Best case scenario: Six to eight wins, no playoffs

Worst case scenario: Two to five wins, no playoffs

What I expect: 4-12, no playoffs

Now on to our very own Bills with a more in depth look…

2008 Results: 7-9, fourth place AFCE (0-6), no playoffs

Key Additions: TO, Bob Sanders (DL coach), Aaron Maybin, Eric Wood, Andy Levitre, Jairus Byrd, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Drayton Florence, Geoff Hangartner, Pat Thomas, Dominick Rhodes, Seth McKinney, Shawn Nelson

Key Losses: Jason Peters, Derrick Dockery, Robert Royal, JP Losman, Angelo Crowell, Melvin Fowler, Duke Preston, Jabari Greer

Key Re-signings/Extensions: Fred Jackson, Marcus Stroud, John ‘The Digi’ Digiorgio, Corey McIntyre, Kirk Chambers

Have they improved from 2008 to 2009?

Unfortunately the same inept coaching staff that has managed not one, not two, but three consecutive 7-9 seasons is intact with the only change coming in the form of new DL coach Bob Sanders.

When you look at Richard "The Corpse" Jauron’s career resume, several words come to mind including mediocre.

Buffalo was able to secure the premier, albeit controversial, free agent available this off season. TO brings a lot of baggage off the field, but you can’t deny what he brings on the field even if he’s not the same player he was five years ago.

Buffalo also trimmed a lot of the perceived "dead weight" this offseason, and sent a clear message to other remaining "fat cats" and underachievers by trying to trade them.

The addition of TO alone improves this team, and on paper the 2009 has been perceived as one of the best in the league by most pundits.

Strengths: WR, QB, RB, DB

Could go either way: MLB S, DT, DE, TE, OLINE

Weaknesses: Coaching, OLB

Biggest area of potential progression: QB, OL, WR, TE, RB, S, DB, DE

Biggest area of potential digression: MLB, OLB, DT

The key to their season: First, Trent Edwards. If he takes the next step and builds off the promise he’s shown through his first two NFL seasons, it should be enough to compensate for the average at best coaching.

The Corpse is bound to blow at least one game this year as that’s his usual MO, but if No. 5 progresses then he could carry this team and win many games with his knack for clutch fourth quarter play.

Second, Schobel’s return combined with the development of young defensive talent will dictate how much the defense can improve on from a respectable 14th ranked unit in 2008. But more pressure on opposing QB’s is needed regardless as the 2009 schedule is far more unforgiving (at least on paper) than the 2008 slate.

And finally third, Buffalo did manage to go 7-3 last year outside the division, and they very easily could have been 9-1 in those games if the ball bounces the other direction on a few plays.

And as inconsistent as Jauron has been as a coach, he did go 3-3 and 4-2 against the AFCE in his first two season, but last year the wheels came off as he went 0-6. That has to improve, and for the Bills to get to the playoffs they have to go no worse than 3-3 in 2009.

What happens if this team doesn’t make the playoffs:

Say goodbye to "Corpseball," and depending on what happens with Edwards, TO, and the defense, we might be looking at a wholesale housecleaning that will leave us further away from the postseason entering 2010 than we were entering 2009.

Best case scenario: Nine to 12 wins, AFC wild card as No. 5/No. 6 seed, deep playoff run

Worst Case Scenario: Four to eight wins, no playoffs

What I expect: 10-6 (7-3 non division play), second place AFCE (3-3 record), fourth/fifth seed in playoffs and one playoff win.

As always, feel free to critique, discuss, flame, and offer your own analysis/insight.....

Upcoming articles: Savior Edwards 2009 NFL preview, 10 Bold predictions for the 2009 Bills, predicting the Bills 2009 schedule, and plenty more…..


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