By Louis “King of Roncesvalles” Pisano
Pre-season football is pretty much a chip-shot away. The previous season’s slate has been wiped clean.
Everyone will now start on an even playing field with new hopes and expectations.
Off-season acquisitions including draft picks, free agents, and trades will now help lead one team to the Promised Land, and a Super Bowl ring.
Which division will this team come from; well, I’ll just give you my breakdown of where these teams are going and what place in their divisions they should end up. Who wins it all, that’s for the teams to decide for themselves!
First let’s look at the geographically closest team.
Dick Jauron and the Buffalo Bills finished with a 7-9 record last year after starting out 5-1and look to get off on the same foot, but keep moving forward this time.
Obviously picking up one of the premiere receivers in the game, Terrell Owens is going help. QB Trent Edwards will get the ball to T.O. and Lee Evans and they will do some damage, no doubt about it. TE Derek Schouman should win the starting job and will be a threat once in place.
Trent is going to need time in the pocket and Andy Levitre who signed July 26 should start at left guard on a re-tooled offensive line along with first round pick 28th overall Eric Wood who, once signed, will be starting at right guard. These guys should hopefully help out on this task of protecting their QB. Remember these guys are rookies and there will be a few bumps along the way.
Running back Marshawn Lynch should also take some pressure off the QB. The Bills running game was ranked 14th overall and they averaged 115.1yards/game, I look for that to improve. Fred Jackson showed that he may be able to be a factor if given the chance. In the last game of the season against the Pats he ripped off 137 yards on 27 carries in the 13-0 loss where the Bills could only manage 276 total net yards that’s only 139 in the air.
Defensively the secondary should be very good they were ranked 13th against the pass giving up 204.4 yards, and to that they have added CB Drayton Florence from the Titans. This should help improve those numbers. The problem on defence which placed 14th PTS 21.4, 14th total yards 326.1, not too bad, but on the ground they were 22nd and gave up 121.1 yards per game, unacceptable! OLB Kawika Mitchell and MLB Paul Posluszny along with a fairly young group of linebackers will have to help DT Marcus Stroud and DE Aaron Schobel get this under control. Really good running teams may hurt the Bills this year, hopefully with a healthy Schobel for the year they can improve in this area.
This Buffalo team should at least split games within their division if they expect to make the playoffs. Perhaps they beat Miami or the Jets twice and lose to the Pats twice leaving them at 3-3. The problem is they went 0-6 against them last year being outscored 119-71. That divisional record has to change and should. They have some tough road games against Carolina, Tennessee, and Atlanta. They host a couple of tough teams in the highly offensive New Orleans Saints, the ever improving Houston Texans, and then Peyton Manning and the Colts in the final game of the season. However, they get Cleveland who they should have beaten last year, Kansas City who they pummelled 54-31, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.
To me this schedule equates to a record of, at very, very best, 9-7 but more likely 8-8 if not a repeat of the 7-9 record, not much of an improvement, if any.
This will in-turn leave a very unhappy T.O. crying about something! Just don’t step in any of those Buffalo patties on the way to laying down your money on the Bills this year! T.O. ain’t the saviour of the North American grazing beast!