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Tough Defenses Pose Tough Match-Up For Bills Offense
Back to reality Bills fans; the wave of optimism and high emotions following the impressive 23-0 win over the Washington Redskins in week 8 are gone, completely erased. Question marks and worry-some feelings towards this Bills franchise of the 2011-2012 season are now filing the minds of Bills fans everywhere. The New York Jets came to town in week 9 and simply put, laid a beat down on the Bills in a 27-11 victory, advancing to 5-3 and forcing a three way tie between the Bills and Patriots in the AFC East.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that this high scoring Bills offense can be stalled when facing a well coached, talented, and physical defense. Just take a look at the Bills losses this season. The Giants, Bengals, and now Jets, all top defenses in the league have found ways to hold the Bills offense to well below their average of what is now 27.8 points per game, allowing their not so spectacular offenses to squeak out a victory.
However the Jets didn’t squeak out a victory last week, they were winning by a favorable amount of points for almost the entire second half, and had the Bills beat in almost every statistical category during the first half. It was only when the game was just about over when Buffalo found a way to get the ball in the end zone. I myself was optimistic about this matchup, and while I knew both teams had a fair shot at winning, I never thought it would have been that much of a blow-out. The Jets secondary was able to keep tight coverage on Buffalo’s receivers, allowing the Jets front seven to stack the box, get pressure on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, and contain RB Fred Jackson, holding the Bills offense to a mere 287 all purpose yards and only 11 points. Disappointing is an understatement when describing my emotions after this game and the all too familiar feelings we all experienced during the Dick Jauron era decided to make a surprise visit this week.
Buffalo has to face yet another physical defense this week in the Dallas Cowboys as they begin their three game road stretch and travel to the spectacular Cowboys stadium for week 10. Buffalo will face one of the most dominant pass rushers in the league in Demarcus Ware. Hopefully the injury bug can cut Buffalo some slack this week as they look for LT Chris Hairtson to return to the starting line-up. In doing so, Andy Levitre can move back to his original left guard position, allowing him to do what he does best, help provide efficient pass protection and also climb up the field to block in run support. Andy did a good job spelling Hairston and Demetrius Bell as they dealt with their injuries, but there’s no denying that this offensive is much more productive when they maintain their continuity and have their players playing in their original positions.
As Buffalo falls to 5-3 and is right in the competition for a playoff spot this year, it is crucial that they recover from the disgraceful Jets loss and get a win in Dallas. When talking about the probability of playoffs this year, this game isn’t necessarily a “do or die” situation. However, Buffalo will surely have dug themselves into a deep pit if they fall to 5-4, having two road games after and still having to face the Chargers, Jets, and Patriots again towards the end of the season. It’s situations like this that separate the contenders from the pretenders. If the Bills ever want to get that chip off their shoulder, and prove to the world that they are serious contenders, they will need to forget all about the Jets loss from last week and come out of Dallas with a win. If they don’t, well Buffalo fans, maybe it’s not quite that time lose all hope, but the Sabres games sure would start looking more appealing.