Mid-Season Checkup

Well here we are at the midway point of the 2007 Buffalo Bills season. I’d say things look better than I thought I’d be blogging about at this point. We’ll take a look at the schedule first.

First 8 Games

Buffalo started the season with a nail biter loss against Denver, then got destroyed in their next 2 against New England and Pittsburgh to start off with a nice 3-game skid. Things looked pretty rough then.

Thankfully, the Jets were horrible enough to help the Bills get their first win. That game was a step forward, but I think the big turning point for Buffalo this season was actually the Monday night game against Dallas. Buffalo was officially back in the scene of the NFL. They picked off 5 of Romo’s passes and snagged one that he put on the turf. Despite their most impressive defensive effort of the year, they managed to lose. But that loss seemed to have only made the players want to win even more.

After a bye week, the banged up Ravens came to town. The equally banged up Bills won in another low scoring affair. That kicked off their current winning streak of 3 games, bringing them back to a .500 record of 4-4.

Next 8 Games

The next 8 opponents are, in order, Miami, New England, Jacksonville, Washington, Miami, Cleveland, New York Giants, and Philadelphia. After their opening 8 games, this schedule looks like a comparable walk in the park.

Two games against Miami are must-wins, since they are still winless this season. That’s the kind of game where, as a heavy favorite, Buffalo has got to stay sharp and aggressive. Then there are some teams who haven’t lived up to expectations with Washington and Philadelphia, so I’ll optimistically give them 4 wins up to this point. Then there are 3 tougher games that are very unpredictable. I’ll say they beat Cleveland (in a game like the Cincinnati game), but struggle with Jacksonville and NY Giants. I’d say they have a better chance beating Jacksonville than the Giants, but Eli does like to throw interceptions, so that could be a fun game. And of course, we can’t forget the game 2 weeks from now against the Patriots.

If Bill Belichick wasn’t so good at mentally preparing his players, I’d say the Bills could pull a game out like they put up against Dallas. But really, I don’t expect too much. You’d better believe I’ll be watching and cheering on my couch, but I’m chalking this one up in the L column for now.

With those predictions, I’ve got them finishing at 9-7, like I predicted earlier. That could be enough for a wild card spot, but it’s not too likely.

Good News

Buffalo now has two young QBs who’ve each played well this year. JP and Lee Evans have their chemistry back, finally, and Marshawn Lynch is quietly (thanks to the unbelievable performances of Adrian Peterson) putting up very impressive rookie numbers. Most of the Bills’ big defensive presences are still injured, so they can only get better next year.

I think they have shown that they have the skill it takes to beat almost any NFL team. Their consistency just isn’t there, but it is growing each week. The New England game will be a great test of where the team is at now. But first, they must plan for Miami.

Buzz

Believe it or not, Mike McAllister, the Power Rankings guy over at ESPN.com is hopping on the Buffalo wagon. After their defeat of Cincy this week, he has them ranked 18th, but comments that he thinks the AFC East may have 2 playoff teams this year. The Bills are walking a fine line as far as the media is concerned. If they beat Miami, people will be excited for the Patriots game. If they manage to botch that game, people may not tune in for the Sunday-nighter.

What Does It All Mean?

As a long-time Buffalo Bills fan, I’m expecting great games and horrible games. A lot of hope should come out of nowhere toward the end of the season, only to fall just short of the playoffs. We could be looking at a season ending like the 2004 season ended. They’ll have to beat a team in Pennsylvania to have a shot at the playoffs. Let’s just hope the Eagles aren’t feeling too hot that day.

Related: Power Rankings: Top NFC teams face big November tests
Leo & Sal hand out midseason Bills grades
Halfway home, Bills in good position for a playoff run