The good thing about coming off the bye week for Buffalo Bills fans is that it’s been 11 days for us to forget about what happened on that Thursday night in New Jersey.
The bad thing about coming off the bye week for Buffalo Bills fans is that it’s been 11 days for us to obsess about what happened on that Thursday night in New Jersey.
So, I’ll reserve my comments for later on in the article.
Let’s move on.
Well, the Buffalo Bills have played eight games, and they’ve got eight games left to play – in the regular season. (Let’s hope for a few more, too!)
Let’s give out some mid-season awards!
And, despite their performance in their last game against the Jets, this is a team worthy of some mid-season awards. So, here we go…
And let’s start right at the top.
MVP: Terry and Kim Pegula
Ok, I’m going off the reservation a bit, right at the very beginning. I’m changing the acronym. Instead of the letters MVP standing for Most Valuable Player, I am changing it to Most Valuable Person. Well, to be specific, Most Valuable Persons. This Buffalo Bills team would not be where it is right now, if it wasn’t for some bold decisions that were made within the last calendar year.
The firing of Rex Ryan, and the hiring of McDermott, Beane & Company, is the reason we, as Bills fans, are enjoying this season unlike any season in our recent memories. I’m calling it like it is. Their commitment to bringing the best team they can to western New York is the reason for this team’s turnaround. (and yes, I think they are trying with the Sabres, too – some things are easier than others).
Most Valuable Offensive Player: Tyrod Taylor
Shady is the most talented offensive player, no news to report with that. But it’s Taylor that is the player that is helping the team win the most. It’s not with big plays, though he has had a few of those, or course. It’s with the little ones. It’s with the numerous 3rd down conversions to 1st downs, keeping drives alive.
Traditional field goal opportunities get turned into touchdown opportunities. Traditional punting situations get turned into field goal opportunities. Those differences in points, from last season to this season, are huge.
There is also this. One of the most documented criticisms of Taylor last year was his inability, or unwillingness, to throw passes over the middle of the field. Opposing defensive coordinators knew this about him, and could set their defenses accordingly. This season, this has changed. He stays in the pocket longer, holds his ground longer, and waits for those midfield receivers to open up. Then, he hits them with well thrown passes.
Tyrod Taylor still has flaws. He still throws a pass every-now-and-again that makes you shake your head and renew your call for the team to draft a top QB in round one of next spring’s NFL draft. But then, he wins a game with his feet, wondrously completes a long throw, or engineers a 4th quarter drive, and you almost tell yourself that he’s our QB for the future. For that to be true, he’ll have to remain the team offensive MVP for the 2nd half of the season, too.
Top Offensive Lineman: This list begins and ends with Richie Incognito. End of the discussion.
Top Receiver: Kelvin Benjamin. What, you thought someone else deserved it so far this season?
Most Valuable Defensive Player: Micah Hyde
The stats read off like a Pro-Bowl all-star. The enthusiasm drips off of him like a middle school gym rat. His experience is networked to the newer, younger players’ brains in practice, games, and in the locker room. The Bills defense is leading the team to victories, and he’s the catalyst behind its resurgence.
Top Defensive Lineman: Not Marcell Dareus
It depends on which week it is, but every guy on this squad is contributing meaningful game-changing plays at one time or another. Their ability to stop opposing team’s running games forces the opposing offense to have to throw, and then the DB’s do their thing behind them.
Top Linebacker: There was talk this off-season of Reggie Ragland replacing Preston Brown at Middle Linebacker. Yep.
Team Rookie of the Year: Tre’Davious White
With the number 10 pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Buffalo Bills were looking purposefully at cornerback. Marshon Lattimore, the stud defensive back from Ohio State, was there on the board. Instead of taking him, the Bills traded down. By all accounts, Lattimore, drafted at the 11 spot by this week’s Bills opponent, the New Orleans Saints, has had an excellent rookie campaign.
But, instead of taking Lattimore at 10, this is what the Bills got by trading down: Tre’Davious White…plus Kansas City’s 1st round pick next year…plus a 3rd round pick.
So, how did this play out? Tre White is playing so well that people have no problems anymore with the un-signing of Stephon Gilmore and the trade of Ronald Darby. After bing drafted at the #27 spot, he’s playing on par with Marshon Lattimore, and the team got an additional 1st round pick along with him. Boom.
Special Teams MVP: The Bills are playing with….ha, I almost wrote it. Hauschka. Stephen freakin’ Hauschka.
Ok, Buffalo Bills. Don’t make me regret giving out a few awards. And go earn some more.
Musings From Around the NFL
The Los Angeles Rams are for real, but you already knew that.
Tom Savage. You cost me my Survival Pool. I just thought the Houston Texans could defeat the Colts without Deshaun Watson. I don’t know if Savage deserves the blame or not. But, I’m giving it to him.
Ezekiel Elliott is gone from the NFL landscape for six games. He’s also gone from my fantasy team for six games. Yeah, I’m having a rough week in NFL fantasyland. Did I mention I have most of the Eagles offense in my starting lineup each week. Yep, they’re on a bye this week.
Welcome back, Teddy Bridgewater. Godspeed to you.
Fantasy Football Tips
Tip: don’t get all the stars from the Eagles’ offense for your team.
At least for this week. Otherwise, they’ll help you to first place!
Antonio Brown looks as golden this week as any week you could play him. He’s at the Colts. Colts pass D? Doesn’t exist. Somebody tell Tom Savage that.
Well, what a huge, huge disappointment. But, like I wrote on that Thursday morning, you could almost feel it in the air over western New York. That heavy sense of doom. That “here it comes, we’ve been waiting for it” sense of ‘buffalobillness’ that we’ve all come to expect.
I don’t know, maybe we brought it on ourselves.
Nah, I don’t think so. I think they were tired, and the difference was that they were the road team, not the home team.
Now, I don’t for a minute want to take anything away from the New York Jets. They came to play. Boy, did they come to play. They deserved that win. The Bills deserved that loss.
It’s just so darn disappointing, though. On national television and everything.
Ok, enough venting.
It’s a home game, and considering that the Bills’ opponent is the red-hot New Orleans Saints, thank goodness for that. The Saints have a longish history of not playing as well on the road as they do at home. So let’s hope for a little of that history continuing today. We’ll need it. (Though, for the record, they are 3-1 away from the Crescent City this season – so, there’s that)
Drew Brees brings a re-tooled hot rod of an offense, and a rebuilt truck of a defense, and a six-game winning streak to New Era Field this afternoon.
The Buffalo Bills bring a tough Thursday night – nationally televised albatross around their neck, with hopes of exorcising the demons of their seasons past, in order to get back on track toward an AFC playoff birth.
This is a very interesting situation setting up for this afternoon. The Bills are not expected to win. There are already conversations about – if the Bills lose – not to worry, they can still blah, blah, blah. Which is true.
But, they could also win this game.
Playing at home, after some time off, a bit healthier, with a new toy to play with (Mr. Kelvin Benjamin), and renewed commitment and motivation, I would not be surprised one bit if they beat the New Orleans Saints today.
In fact, let me put my pen where my mouth is…
Buffalo 24 – New Orleans 23
This should be exciting, today. Enjoy!
Read me next week.
Editor’s babble: Thanks to Rick Bates for getting us set up and in the mood for the big game against the Saints. You can follow Rick on Twitter @MyHammock.