All posts by Nick Flickinger

Nick Flick’s end of year awards – 12/28/2006

With the Bills out of the playoffs instead of a preview, I will be giving out awards for the good and bad this past year.

Brian Moorman and London Fletcher-Baker
Moorman lead the NFL in net punt average and went to the probowl for a reason.
London was completely snubbed from the probowl and completely carried the defense, he has to get some recognition this year.

Offensive Player of the Year
J.P. Losman
19 total touchdowns and a 86.8 qb rating, since the resurgence he has been the only good constant on the offense

Denfensive Player of the Year
Nate Clements
The whole season number one receivers didn’t even see the ball. In the last two weeks he’s covered Drew Bennett and Chris Chambers, neither caught a pass, and more notably Marvin Harrison had less than 10 yards against him. (please resign him)

Rookie of the Year
Ko Simpson
With McCargo, yes he is a Buffalo Bill, and Whitner sidelined for some time with injuries Ko stepped in and had a very solid rookie season. He provided great speed and took better angles to the ball than Whitner did.

Pleasant Surprise
Robert Royal
Starting coming on in the last four weeks, had a touch down in each of the last three games until Tennessee, where he was one foot away from getting his fourth from Lee Evans. He can continue to improve his pass catching and may be a big endzone target come next season.

Biggest Disappointment
Terrence McGee
My Bills red and blue blood wouldn’t allow me to pick Takeo Spikes, which leaves McGee. He has been torched all year, most notably last week against the Titans. His coverage skills seem to be limited at nickel back and he may not be ready to play every down on defense. Also no kick return touch downs, our offense needed them this year.

Best in game decision
Ham and Cheese
Quizno’s had it right on this one. Not only is this a delicious combination, but Willis got back in the game and continued to pound the jets for the rest of the game.

Worst in game decision
I don’t even have to say it. Lindell is 23-25 on field goals this year, I know I would trust him to kick a 45 yard field goal. The rest is too painful.

Best Play
First Play from scrimmage
Takeo Spikes came on a blitz sacked golden boy Tom Brady, stripped it, London picked it up and ran it in for the first score of the season. The game slipped away, but it was a sign of good things to come.

Worst Play
Vince Young’s 36 yard touchdown run
right before the half, 4th down, we let Vince Young run past every single player on defense for a 36 yards right before the half, and send Tennessee into the locker rooms with the lead.

Nick Flick’s Christmas Wish List – 12/19/2006

With Christmas right around the corner and the playoffs nearing, Bills fans should ask for one thing. The playoffs. Now I know being 7-7 they might look grim, and with three other 7-7 teams and four 8-6 teams, the route is complicated and confusing. My article will be dedicated to sorting this very complicated process out, so every one knows whom to root for in McFadden’s this weekend.

My list for Santa:
Bills to beat the Titans and Ravens
Jets to lose to Miami
Jaguars to lose to the Patriots or Chiefs
Broncos or Steelers to beat the Bengals

If jolly old Saint Nick grants me just these five gifts, we’ll all be watching the Charging Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round. Now obviously this needs some explanation. Why would we be rooting for the Broncos, Chiefs, and Steelers? It’s all due to tiebreakers. If we win our next two games and all the 8-6 teams lose one we will have the tiebreaker over all of them. I’m actually not positive about the Bengals, it determines how the NFL values our two losses to their one loss against the Pats, and our must win against the Ravens to their 1-1 split with the Ravens. You’ll have to call Roger Goodell to figure that one out. But for hope’s sake I’m going to give us the edge. And for the rest of them I’m your guy.

So in an NFL 3 way or more tie, if two teams are in the same division it goes by division tiebreakers to immediately kick one of those two teams out. If the Jets lose to the Dolphins and the Bills win our next two we will knock them out of the playoffs. Sadly if the Jets beat the Fish we will be eliminated from the post season. No matter what else happens, if the Jets beat the Dolphins we’re out, so root for the fish like you never have in your whole life. If we need any win more than the Bills this week its Miami. Please Joey, do it for all of us. But if J.P. beats Tennessee and Baltimore, and the Jets lose to Miami, we will have split head-to-head, tied division record, tied common opponents, and the Bills would take it in the AFC record.

That would leave us, Jags, Bengals, and Broncos looking for wild card dreams. Now if the Jags lose one of their next two, we win out and either, or both, the Bengals or Broncos go 1-1 the Jaguars will be eliminated, considering their AFC record would be lower than all three if the Bengals win, or just the Bills and Broncos if the Broncos win, so either way they would be eliminated.

And then there were three, the Bills, the Bengals, and the Broncos. In this situation, if Denver Beats Cinci they will be in the playoffs whether they win or lose to the 49ers. Leaving the Bills and Bengals in a convoluted head-to-head match-up that I explained in the beginning, but don’t know the answer to. I think the Bills make it, but don’t hold me to it. However if Cincinnati beat Denver then the Bills would make it only if Denver loses again the next week to San Francisco, or if the Bengals lose to the Steelers week 17. So lets just hope the Bengals lose their next two, it makes every thing a lot easier.

So for us to beat out Denver we need them to lose two in a row. I don’t see that happening, but as it stands right now, the only must wins this week are the Bills and Miami. On a side note, if the Bills, Steelers, and Chiefs all go 9-7, the Bills make it over those two so I didn’t discuss them, so don’t worry about rooting for them. We actually could use big week 17 wins by both of them.

Recap: Order of importance this week.
1. Miami over the Jets (if we win it won’t matter with if this doesn’t go our way)
2. Bills over Titans (absolutely miniscule shot, but still plausible if we lose)
3. Patriots over the Jaguars (If this happens all we need to do is win to edge out the Jags)
4. Broncos over Bengals (We want this to happen, it’s not necessary but it would definitely help.)

Get your different foam fingers out, we need to do a lot of cheering, but on the upside its very possible to expect the Jaguars to lose to either the Pats or Chiefs, the Bengals to lose to either the Broncos or Steelers, and for the Jets to lose to Miami. We’re not just done yet.

On a quick, more dark side note, Al Wilson over London Fletcher-Baker in the Pro bowl?
Fletcher-Baker Wilson
Total Tackles 131 95
Solos 95 75
Sacks 2 1
Interceptions 3 0
Forced Fumbles 0 1
Recovered Fumbles 1 0
TDs 1 0
That’s all I have to say on that subject.

First of all, forget fantasy we have a lot to deal with, the Bills come first. But if you must: Brees, Owens, and Tomlinson. Lock of the Week Bears -4.5 over the Lions.

Week 14 Preview – 12/6/2006

Heart breaking losses, getting jobbed by the referees, people talking about progressing towards next year, it’s definitely Christmas with the Bills again. The Bills are 5-7 with four games left to go, whilst trailing five teams for the AFC wild card. Angelo Crowell is out for the season and things are starting to get dim. But then again nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. And even if the playoffs are out of reach there would be nothing better than knocking the Jets out of contention.

If there is one Bill who has to show up, it is Willis McGahee. He always terrorizes the Jets and he was completely shut down last week. He was a first round draft pick, had an incredible first season, but is leaning towards disappointing since. Willis has never had a bigger supporter, but come on, give me some help here, have some big games. Step up.

J.P. really is turning things around. I’m a believer. He has 9th best passer rating of any one starting this week. Higher than draft day enemies Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. He is not at the level Rivers is playing at this year, but J.P. is with out a great line LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. He finally starting connecting on the deep ball against the Texans and is recently been doing well in the short game with Peerless Price and Josh “I can’t do any thing well but am inexplicably J.P.’s favorite receiver” Reed. I have no idea why J.P. loves Josh so much, but if it works, I’ll take it. But there is a reason why Lee Evans has caught over 40% of the team’s passes this year. He can stretch the field and if the Bills can find a legitimate possession receiver to play across from him next year, J.P. can really thrive. Note to the front office, RECEIVERS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE TALL! Even so our offense has clearly progressed and will be much more exciting in the final few games and next season. Lets all pray for offensive line help.

The Bills defense is stacked. Perry Fewell is 100% the wrong coordinator to run it. Barring the two games Triplett has shown up, and the one game Denney helped out the Bills have one penetrating lineman, Aaron Shobel. The loss of Crowell will hurt a lot, but when he was healthy, he, London Fletcher-Baker, and Takeo “I finally showed up last week” Spikes rivaled and team’s line backers. Nate Clements is one of the best corners in the league and has really been playing like it recently. Terrence McGee has his moments and our safeties are improving every game and are some of the fastest in the league. With a young speedy secondary, play making linebackers and a D-line that can’t get penetration on its own maybe we should blitz once in a while. The cover-2 is not for us. We were one of the best defenses in the league with Dick Lebeau and his blitz happy style. We get no penetration and even less take aways. Fit the system to the defense, not the other way around.

This week was more calling out the Bills and saying we have a lot to look forward to next year, but Chad Pennington’s arm is still limp from when Shobel hit him last year, hey Aaron, wanna try that again? And Willis always runs through the Jets. I don’t know what I’ll do with myself if we lose this one, take the Bills with the points.

It may be time for the big guy to retire, but Brett Favre has one big week left in him. He’s my sleeper fantasy pick to be this week’s top QB against a San Francisco D that can’t cover any body this year. I hope you can get him in tonight’s game because Willie Parker is going to tear up the Browns. Roethlisberger is shaky and Pittsburg is looking for respectability after winning the super bowl last year. Who do you want receiving for you this week? Terrell Owens has been huge since Romo’s arrival in Dallas and is ready for a shoot out against New Orleans. Lead pipe lock of the week, is Vince Young and the Titans coming off wins against Indy and still getting 1.5 against Houston.

Week 13 Preview – 11/29/2006

Charging into the Playoff Picture
The first sentence of this week’s article is dedicated to Brian Moorman. Not only is he the league leader in net punt yards, but he is also my unsung hero of last week’s big win. On the final field goal attempt, long snapper Mike Schneck hiked the ball into the ground, but Moorman picked it up and held it perfectly enabling Rian Lindell to knock in the game winning Kick.

The Bills have another tough home game coming up, this time the against AFC west leading San Diego Chargers. There is no reason to make the playoffs if there is no hope to win in them. So for the Bills to prove they can make it, they have to be able to beat playoff teams at home.

The Bills front four has been incredibly streaky this year. Some games they might as well have stayed in the locker room, in others they’re dominant. Last week was the latter. The Bills put constant pressure on Garrard all game and really helped out the defensive backs. Even though Phillip Rivers has played like a pro-bowler this year, he is still a rookie and susceptible to a constant rush. The Chargers line is young and inexperienced like the Bills’ so if the defensive line can put forth their best effort they should be able to keep pressure on Rivers all game.

No player has out preformed LaDanian Tomlinson this year. He leads all players with 1602 yards from scrimmage and 26 touchdowns. The Bills have struggled against the run all year. They are sixth from the bottom in rushing yards per game and just last week Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew lead the way for Jacksonville to total 207 yards on the ground. There is no realistic way the Bills can stop Tomlinson, but if the NFL’s leading tackler, London Fletcher-Baker, can help slow him down enough the Bills’ new found offense and Defensive backs can win the game.

The Bills are in the middle of the pack in pass defense. Clements has been outstanding this year, but McGee has been a disappointment. Ko Simpson and Donte Whitner have been incredible of late. They bring speed to the safety position that the Bills haven’t seen in years. When provided with a good pass rush they only have up 116 passing yards last year and have proven that they can stay with any receiving corps. The only problem one could have is the lack of interceptions. The defensive backs haven’t made too many plays on the ball this year, but the young group has given us a lot to look forward to for years to come. If Crowell can stay with Gates the Bills secondary can give Rivers a lot of trouble especially with Keenan McCardell question for the game.

The Bills reshuffled line threw Willis McGahee a welcome back party last week. They set up blocks that enabled him to rush for 5.5 yards per carry and 2 scores. Anthony Thomas will be hampered by an ankle injury this week, and unless Dick Jauron wants Kevin Smith to flip the table over after watching a healthy dose of Shaud Williams, Willis will get the large majority of the carries. Injuries to defensive end Luis Castillo and Linebacker Randall Godfrey will help out Willis’s efforts. But the line does have to look out for the return of juicer Shawne Merriman.

Who else is ready to watch Losman to Evans for years to come? J.P. has made me a believer and Evans is 7th in the NFL in receiving. Evans has been getting open all year and if J.P. can continue to hit him, defenses around the league will have to take men out of the box and really respect the passing game. Before the Bills’ passing game can truly thrive they might want to consider a better second receiver than Peerless Price, and I don’t mean Josh Reed. Evans can carry the load this year, but if the Bills want to be serious contenders next year they have to shore up the rest of the receivers along with some line help.

Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. The recent great team play even has Burt “cut everybody” Flickinger yelling out wild card.

Even though Vince Young and Travis Henry has rejuvenated the Titans’ offense, they still play with the Titans’ defense, Peyton Manning will take advantage of this as he becomes this week’s top quarterback. The Bills have a great shot at coming away with a win, but Tomlinson will have his way with the weak run defense and put up the numbers he has all year. Tony Romo has completely turned around the Dallas offense and Terrell Owens has taken full advantage of it. He will continue his push with the best wide receiver out put this week. Bills should cover the six-point spread against the Chargers and go over 43 _ points. But the lock of the week is the Chiefs to go into Cleveland and blow up the 5-point spread.

Week 10 Preview – 11/10/2006

Tough Game to Billieve in
The Indianapolis Colts are the last undefeated team left in the NFL, and the Bills have the task of going into Indy and trying to change that to keep their own season alive. This is a classic David vs. Goliath match up, the Bills really do not have anything in their favor heading into the match up. While the Bills front four is having trouble getting consistent pressure, they are going up against a tough veteran offensive line that includes 2 Pro-Bowlers. Aaron Schobel is having a great year with seven sacks and remains one of the most underrated players in the league. Sadly Tripplett has been a disappointment (15 tackles, 0 sacks) and no other DT has stepped up. McCargo is out and the Bills still do not have one sack from the Defensive tackle position. Schobel’s continuing his promising season won’t be enough for the Bills to control the line and Manning will probably have all the time he needs.

Peyton leads one of the scariest passing offenses in recent memory. He, Reggie Wayne, and Marvin Harrison are all putting up big numbers this year. Nate has been solid, but McGee has been getting burned this year and the safeties still make a lot of mistakes. Peyton will probably be able to pick apart our young secondary. It’s nothing against them, but Manning is just too smart and good for any defense to really stop. The best part of the Bills’ D is their Linebackers. This should not matter too much considering the Colts do not run that much and don’t use the Tight End too often. The linebackers won’t be able to influence the game in Manning can just throw deep to Harrison and Wayne all game.

It says something about an offense when the team’s Middle Linebacker is tied for second, behind the Kicker, in total points. Evans has been good, but J.P. has had trouble recently converting on big plays when Evans gets open, and Willis lost his nose for the end zone. This might all just be spawning from a terrible offensive line. The running backs can’t run and J.P. fumbles more than he scores. The line too many players in, but it is a bad sign when the referee can strip the ball from your quarter back on a run (i.e. J.P. in the pats game.) Dwight Freeney is one of the game’s best pass rushing defensive ends and he’ll be going up against the bright spot on the Bills’ line, Jason Peters. This match-up will be a good test to see if Peters will really become the great player he can be or whether he’ll just be the serviceable player next to the revolving door of the rest of the line.

J.P. is not having a terrible throwing season, 7 TDs 6 Ints and a 61.3 completion percentage. He has the opportunity to become a good football player, he just needs to fix his two glaring holes. First of all as I already mentioned, he fumbles like it’s his job. I’m sure there are many ways to fix this problem, Travis Henry and Tiki Barber both did, but it is getting to the point with J.P. that I’m thinking glue on his left hand is the only option. His second fatal flaw is he is silent on the bench. After one of his many three-and-outs one can find J.P. sitting by himself on the bench. Talk to somebody about what’s going on in the field, see what you can do to fix the offense, even chew somebody out, don’t just sit there like a neglected child. Even the Kicker usually talks to the long snapper and holder.

The one weakness the Colts have is their run defense is very suspect. Luckily for the Bills Willis McGahee, their starting running back and focal point of the offense is out with broken ribs. Because of this Dick Jauron is going to have to hop back on the A-Train. Anthony Thomas lead Jauron to the playoffs once in Chicago, hopefully he can do it again. He also did have a good game against Green Bay last year, 95 yards and a TD. That TD gave him more points on the year than McGahee. It’s sad to see a player of Willis’s caliber behind the Bills line.

The game will rest upon the shoulders of A-Train and Terrence McGee, I don’t expect Thomas to disappoint, but I’m not so sure about McGee this week. Manning is too good and Wayne is playing like a real superstar this year.

Picks and Parlays
The Bills’ game will premiere two of this week’s top fantasy performers. Sadly neither are Bills. As he has done so many times Peyton Manning will be this week’s best QB, the Bills are fading and he is just so good. McGee has been less than impressive this year and With Manning throwing him the ball Reggie Wayne will rack up points this week. LaDanian Tomlinson is leading the league in touchdowns and is two yards behind Tiki Barber for the league lead. He is heading into Cinci, who does not offer a stout run defense, he’s your best bet at running back. Baltimore will make everyone remember Vince Young is a rookie next week, they’ll be great. The Colts will man handle the Bills and cover the 12 point spread, and probably the 45-point over by themselves. I’m still debating over the lock of the week though. It’s either the Chiefs -1 at Miami, or the Chargers -1 at Cinci. Both should be winners.

Week 7 Preview – 10/18/2006

Is It Too Early To Play For Draft Picks?
After losing to the Jets at home, a crushing defeat by the Bears, and an embarrassing loss to the Lions, the Bills are painting a terrible picture of them selves. I never thought I would see a quarter back fumble more than Bledsoe, but J.P. continues to impress. He had a great running toss to roscoe, and really needs to start getting out of the pocket and running much more.

You know how in five-card-draw poker if you have an ace you can exchange your other four cards, well that’s the only solution to the Bills line. Jason Peters isn’t quite an ace, but every one else needs to hit the road. Mike Gandy let up three and a half sacks against the lions. I like Peters, but it is saying something when the team’s two tackles were a back up guard and a college tight end before joining the team. Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, and Richard Seymour, combined with blitzing linebackers will probably be in J.P.’s face all game. Let’s just hope he can hold on to the ball.

The line’s woes have not helped out Willis lately. After leading the league in rushing, Willis has only gained 116 yards on the ground in the last two games combined. Willis only got 70 yards in the first game against the Patriots and may have another similar game. The line is playing worse and now Melvin Fowler and Tutan Reyes are both questionable. All season running up the middle has not been very successful and now it will be even worse. If Willis wants to get into this game at all, Jauron will need to send him on mostly off tackle runs. He has to make his own holes.

When J.P. has gotten the ball out of his hand, he’s been solid this year. Completing 61.6 percent of his passes, and with more TDs than ints this year, he has done what he needs to do. The fumbles are the x-factor that has made his season slightly disappointing. Lee Evans has stepped up his game this year and has caught passes that aren’t just straight fly routes. He catches balls all over the field and is really becoming the respectable number one receiver who the Bills need. Price and Reed have also chipped in on short and intermediate passes, with roscoe providing a lot of the deep threat. With Corner Back Ellis Hobbs and Safety Eugene Wilson, both playing through injuries for the Patriots the Bills receiver can take advantage. With a hurting offensive line the receivers need to get open quickly and often. Expect them to do so against the ailing secondary.

Defense Needs To Go From Good To Dominant
The Bills added a new member to their defensive line this week. Anthony Hargrove will probably split time with Ryan Denney and Chris Kelsay opposite Aaron Schobel. After the front four was such a pleasant surprise at the beginning of the season they have been nowhere to be found since then. The Bills only rush their front four on most plays and cannot create consistent pressure with them. For a second straight year the Bills have been terrible against the run. The Bills continue to show how much they miss Pat Williams. Triplett, Kyle Williams, and Tim Anderson are serviceable but they really need that one big guy to disrupt every thing on running plays. Going up against a very good line in New England don’t expect too much out of the Bills D-line this week.

The comeback of Takeo Spikes definitely will help. Although he did definitely look like a player coming off injury last week. He was a bit hesitant and it took him longer to get into plays. With Crowell and Fletcher helping him out and assuming he gets back to old form the Bills linebackers can really start to dominate games. After Maroney and Dillon ran all over the Bills after Spikes left the game look for him to take this one personally. Spikes and Fletcher combined on the first play from scrimmage against the Pats in week one to score the first touchdown on a Sunday of the NFL season. With first round pick Ben Watson, Daniel Graham, and good receiving running backs the linebackers have their work cut out for them, but I expect them to get the job done. With a healthy Takeo, they could easily be the best group of linebackers in the league, and they will show that Sunday.

Terrence McGee is never allowed to look at Roy Williams again. Nate Clements seems to be fully healthy this week and he needs to be. Even though the Patriots don’t have a clear-cut number one receiver, just out of principle McGee can’t guard who ever it may be. Troy Brown and Reche Caldwell lead a weak receiving corps into Buffalo. With bad receivers and Clements back to form the Bills should give Tom Brady another tough time this week. Ko Simpson has played all right. He certainly has all the skills he needs to play at this level, he just needs to read plays better and take better angles to the ball. The referees certainly do not like Donte Whitner. In week one they called a phantom penalty that took away his touchdown and last week, even after review, the ref wouldn’t give him a clear interception. He is still playing great and is making a great attempt at Rookie of the Year. He won defensive rookie of the month in September. He has been playing great all year and is proving to have been a great sleeper pick at number eight in this year’s draft. If the safeties help out the corners, passing yards will be scarce for New England.

Picks and Parlays
Peyton Manning will have a huge game against the Redskins and will prove to be the best fantasy quarter back this year. With the loss of Larry Fitzgerald and Matt Leinart’s strong play Anquan Boldin will put up big numbers, he’s your best bet at receiver this week, plus he’s playing the Raiders, that always helps. Ladanian Tomlinson takes his league leading seven rushing touchdowns into Kansas City this week, look for him to add a few to that number. The Bills are a very up-and-down team and betting on them is not recommended but I do see them coming out strong back at home this week and upsetting the Patriots in a defensive game, meaning they will be under 37. Pick of the week is going to be Cardinals -3 at Oakland. Leinart played well against the Bears last week and Oakland is winless for a reason.

Week 6 Preview – 10/13/2006

Rebound Can’t Even Describe What the Bills Need to Do
I think that the best way to describe the Bears game is to recount a conversation I had with Matt Kabel while watching. We were discussing how the Bills had done every thing that could possibly go wrong. I then pointed out that we had not fumbled a kick or punt yet, Terrence McGee corrected that shortly there after. Unless your name is Lee Evans and you are currently on the Bills active roster you should be ashamed of your self. Luckily the Bills will be facing a much less strong Lions team this week. The Bears are currently undefeated, where as Detroit is still searching for that allusive first victory. Also before I continue with this article I would like to apologize to the superstitious of you out there. I should have known better than to let my brother come to Calico Jack’s on Sunday. It was his first visit back to the city since leaving for college, so I thought we could forget the bad luck guy. Last year I am pretty sure he did not witness one win in Calico Jack’s, and his most notable losses were when he came at half time to the Panthers game and he also came at half time to witness the terrible comeback by the Dolphins, led by Sage Rosenfels. He will be back in his dorm at Cornell and out of our way.

Offense actually has to play this week
The Lions defense does not do much well. They have let up over 25 points four times this season and over 30 three times. This all starts with a weak defensive line. It is rare that I can say that our line should push them around, but they really should. With Villarrial likely out Duke Preston on Shaun Rogers can present a problem. But with Shaun Cody, their other starting defensive tackle, out and weak defensive ends, they should be able to keep Rogers under control. With help from the line Willis can really explode this weak. Detroit is also missing starting line backer Paris Lenon. Rookie Ernie Sims and Boss Bailey were both standouts in college who have not made names for them selves in the pro’s. Injured and already weak front seven really should let Willis gain back the league lead in rushing. He did not get the ball much last week because of the very early defecit. He will definitely prove himself this week.

J.P. really set himself back in a lot of fans minds last week. He entered the game with an over 90 quarter back rating and had really not made many costly mistakes all year. After his three interception fiasco that rating has dropped to 78 and he now has more turnovers than touchdowns. He still has been pretty promising this year and we should not let one game against arguably the best defense in the league color our thoughts of him too much. Detroit’s corner backs are the strong point of there defense. Lee Evans is really coming into his own lately. He has gotten at least 90 yards and 7 catches in each of his last three games. No other receiver has really stepped up as the number two. Both Josh Reed and Peerless Price have been okay. With the combination of those three and Roscoe Parrish the Bills should be able to get past Dre Bly and Fernando Bryant, Detroits 1st two corners, and get to their weak safeties. Detroit’s defense has played really poorly this year and should help spark a Bills offense that has not done too much this year. They should be able to run all over them. Defense needs to get back in form

Takeo Spikes has been questionable for too long now. The D can’t keep waiting for him. They have to take the players they have and put out their best effort. The defensive line is where the success has to start. The pressure displayed in the first two games of the season has been no where to be found in the last three games. The defensive line really should have a big game this year. Detroit’s offensive line is reeling with injuries. Tackle Rex Tucker and guards Damien Woody and Ross Verba all seem unlikely to play this year. The Bills have rotated starting Tim Anderson and rookie Kyle Williams. One of them needs to and can easily step up this game. Denney and Schobel need to find a way to get past this hurting line and help the secondary out with some pressure this week. They should be able to do this, and the secondary will need it.

With Nate Clements’s being questionable Kiwaukee Thomas and Terrence McGee really need to play better than past weeks. Roy Williams is having a break out year, and Mike Furrey has also been good this year. Ko Simpson and Donte Whitner have been good this year, but they definitely need the corners to play well. Whether Clements is or is not playing, the other corners are going to be the most important players on the field for the defense.

Even with rookie Keith Ellison, the linebacking corps is really strong. Fletcher and Crowell are both playing really well this year. Since Detroit’s line is so banged up and because Kevin Jones, their starting running back, is only averaging 50 yards a game, the line backers should be dropping back and helping out the secondary. Jon Kitna is showing that he is better than a back up, but has not fully shown that he is an above average starter yet. With strong receivers, the linebackers will need to help make Kitna look like a back up and let the Bills rest Spikes and Clements. Fantasy
As for this game I can not recommend any one but Willis McGahee. Not that other players won’t have big games, but his will be so good he gets every pick. As for the rest of the league, the quarter back you want is Donovan McNabb. He is going against New Orleans and has just been fantastic this year. Running back is Willis, huge game. Coming off his big game against the Bills, Bernard Berrian will put up similar numbers against the Cardinals. San Diego’s defense going against San Francisco will be the best defense to play this week. The spread on the game is Lions -1, I definitely recommend taking the Bills this week. The over/under is 39.5, like most Bills games, I would take the under. The lock of the week is Eagles Saints over 46.

Week 4 Preview – 9/27/2006

Jauron Needs to stop dicking around
One of the biggest problems with last week’s game was that I forgot to report that Jauron found the playbook that Mike Mularky accidentally left behind. It was in the box that Mularky made the movers do a flea-flicker with on its way to the U-Haul. It must have slipped out. But who else could have thought of a fake field goal shovel pass to the pulling right tackle going across the left side, or trying to have Losman run a 25 yard circle instead of a half yard plunge, and the fourth and four 2 yard pass to Josh Reed looked a lot like the one yard pass to Eric Moulds that ended last year’s Patriots game. If the Bills hope to win this week they will have to get back to smash mouth football. If Willis is averaging 5.8 yards a carry maybe he should get the ball in the red zone. They also need to have much less costly turnovers, the Jets had 21 points off turnovers last week.

Bills Offense a little better than expected
The Bills offense has done more than I expected from them at the beginning of the year. The line has done well, they have given up 8 sacks, not a great number, but a few have been Losman’s fault and it’s still better than years past. The line also opened a lot of wholes for Willis last Sunday. The middle of the line will has a literally huge task at hand this weekend, of course I am referring to Ex-Buffalo Bill Patty “eat em up” Williams, who is listed at 317 pounds, but my guess is he is a biscuit shy of four-hundy. Patty was an incredible run stopper for years on the Bills and has been doing the same for the Vikings. Fortunately he has a weak-supporting cast so the Bills better make sure to get him blocked first. Hopefully the tackles and Willis won’t miss any more blocks out side. That combined with J.P. holding the ball with two hands when he gets hit should lead to less game turning fumbles.

J.P. had his first 300-yard game last Sunday, but it was not the kind of football that the Bills needed to win. He fumbled twice and threw a very ugly interception. J.P. was more impressive in the Dolphins game, not turning the ball over and not trying to do too much. Another ex-Bill, Antoine Winfield, will be going against Losman this week. Winfield will man up Lee Evans. Winfield always was a great shut down corner for the Bills, but he was always susceptible to the long ball. With Evans speed that could happen this week. Especially after Evans finally got on track last week. Roscoe also had his best career game, and Peerless and Reed both had their best games of the season. If J.P. can earn trust back they can really work the Vikings secondary this week. If they stay away from Darren Sharper the Bills can take advantage of Fred “Party Boat” Smoot.

Willis had his break out game against the Jets. The line opened up holes and he didn’t do the Sammy Morris electric slide in the backfield before hitting the hole. He used good vision showing why he won the job over Travis “head down” Henry. Pat Williams will be hard to run around but with Napoleon Harris’s being their only descent linebacker the Bills could try a lot of outside runs, or just away from Pat. If they can double or even triple Pat then Willis could duplicate his performance from last week.

Bills D Needs to Step up
The Bills defense played two great games to open the season, and didn’t play poorly against the Jets. 21 points were off turnovers, but that doesn’t excuse everything. Defending a short field the, it wouldn’t be terrible to let up a field goal, but they need to start making red zone stops. Every time the Jets got into the red zone, they put it in the end zone. With a less than powerful offense, the Bills can’t afford to let in too many seven-point-scores.

The most pleasantly surprising part of the defense in the first two games was the pressure from the defensive line. After recording 10 sacks in the first two games the Bills only sacked Pennington once, and it was a one-yard loss as Kelsay was able to grab Pennington’s leg as he tried to scramble. With the left side of the line anchored by pro-bowlers Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson, and former first round pick Bryant McKinnie, don’t look for that pressure to come from the right side. Denney and Kelsay have put on good pressure this year and they’ll really need to this week because the rest of the line will have real trouble.

Takeo Spikes still has not played since the 1st quarter of the Patriots game, and it’s starting to show. Keith Ellison has not done a bad job, but he hasn’t made any impact plays. Takeo Spikes was always the Bills’ impact player who came up when they needed him. His only full drive this year, he got a sack and forced fumble that London Fletcher scored on. Chester Taylor still hasn’t had a great game starting for the Vikings this year. He was a dependable back up for Jamal Lewis in Baltimore, but must prove that he can be a starter pretty soon. With Fletcher still patrolling the middle of the field don’t look for this to be his break out week. Also if Takeo does get back on the playing field, he could be the spark that the D needs to have another dominate game like they had in Miami.

Troy Williamson is the Vikings’ best receiver on a very weak core. Brad Johnson has thrown as many touchdowns as Ryan Longwell, he is their kicker by the way. Nate Clements and the rest of the defensive backs shouldn’t really be challenged this week. The pass has not burned the Bills this year and this week shouldn’t be any different. Although Coy Wire is still getting too much playing time so you never know. The safeties will have to shut down tight ends Jim Kleinsasser and Jermaine Wiggins. But with them being the biggest problem, the secondary doesn’t have much too worry about.

After a home loss to the Jets I don’t really know what to expect about the Bills this week. They are clearly going to be a very dynamic team this year so never count on them to win or lose. I still like them to beat the Vikings in this week’s pick ‘em. With both teams having poor offenses I like under 35. Pick of the week Bengals -6 against the Pats. It may start to get boring picking Peyton Manning to be the best fantasy quarterback each week, but it’s certainly not boring having him on your team. He’s your best bet this week. With Shaun Alexander injured and LT playing the Ravens, Larry Johnson will have his best week of the season to date this week making him this week’s best runner. With Peyton’s great game this week you’ll want to have Marvin Harrison, he catches a lot of balls. The Bills defense should get back on track this week and will be a great play for any team.

Week 3 – 9/20/2006

Jauron & Levy’s Charging Buffalo Bills vs. Mangini & Bradway’s Bad Jets “Bets”
The Bills have their third straight AFC East divisional game this weekend. The New York Jets are coming to town for the Bills’ home opener. After thoroughly “Squishing the Fish!” last week the Bills are raring to go out and do the same to a weak Jets team that is hamstrung by all Terry Bradway’s bad draft picks, which were even dumber than some of Tom Donahoe’s many dumb draft decisions.

Dependable Defense
The Bills nearly shut out Dante Culpepper and the drowning Dolphins last week. With Bills four rookies starting on the defense, it looks like the D can only get better.

President/GM, Marv levy & Head Coach, Dick Jauron’s, strong draft day decisions are already paying big dividends. Ko Simpson and Donte Whittner played great against the Dolphins. Their speed keeps them in every play, and they shouldn’t have any trouble keeping up with Chad Pennington’s less than laser, rocket arm passing to the Jet receiver corps.

It’s gratifying to see the Bills young secondary do well to keep Coy Wire (“you still playing anything but special teams”) off the field. Kudos to Coy for blocking a punt, but his play in the secondary confirms that he can’t cover anyone and can’t catch anything.

After a very successful first try at 3rd corner by Kiwaukee Thomas this week, he’ll join Nate Clements and Terrence McGee in a very formidable nickel package. Laverneus Coles and Jerricho Cotchery lead a pedestrian receiving corps that shouldn’t present overwhelming problems for the Bills secondary.

Takeo Spikes is the team’s emotional leader and he is always needed on the field. Nevertheless, Keith Ellison did a more than respectable job filling in. Angelo Crowell also “stepped up” and made the big play to sign the death certificate for the Dolphins. When Miami first got into the red zone Crowell picked off a pass from Culpepper that appeared to be intended for Ryan Denney,

If Spikes does play vs. the Jets, a shut out is a consideration. The Jets offense features four running backs. Three of them were backups last year and the forth split time on a college team that had a running game ranked in the 90s. London Fletcher alone could probably shut down a big part of the Jets running game.

Looking at the Past to Predict the Present
The Bills’ line had a great game against Miami and can look to do the same this week. They sacked Culpepper 5 times in Miami’s first 15 plays. Ryan Denney and Chris Kelsay also combined for four sacks. Last year Aaron Schobel ended Pennington’s season, and the Bills should be all over him again this year.

The Jets have a weak right half of the line and are starting rookies at center and left tackle. So, as well as the Bills line played against “the Fish,” the Bills could easily be even more impressive hosing down the Jets & all the Jets’ ‘firemen’ fans, like their leader, “#42 “Harper” wearing the white J-E-T-S fireman’s hat sitting on the shoulders of his 400 pound brother, while shouting rallying cries as futile as his own fireman’s “rally cap.”

The Jets offense doesn’t do anything well and the Bills’ can’t do much wrong these day,. Look for that match-up to be rather one sided. In fact the only thing that I’ve been disappointed in the defense with is that they haven’t been scored on too much, so McGee hasn’t gotten many kick returns, only one last week.

The Offense Doesn’t need to “Improve”
Sure the Bills have only gained 451 total offensive yards and scored 2 touchdowns this year, and yes Peyton Manning had 400 yards last week with 3 touch downs, but that doesn’t mean the offense needs to improve. The Offense has actually done everything that they have needed to. The Bills have not turned the ball over once this year. They have become the perfect “care taker” offense letting Jauron & Fewell’s dominating defense do the rest.

Maybe Willis McGahee won’t return to his “scoring machine” ways; maybe Lee Evans won’t be an All Pro big prime time receiver, but they don’t need to be. As long as the Bills hold on to the ball and get a field goal every now and then the Bills “Big D” will do the rest.

J.P. Losman clearly has not put up gaudy numbers, but has been impressive, in a similar fashion to former Bills QB & Congressman Jack Kemp, who had mediocre stats but proved to be a big winner for the Bills after two seasons.

J.P. has a 63.4 completion percentage and a 88.2 QB rating. He has not made any big mistakes this year and looks a lot more mature this year. Losman knows his job isn’t to carry the team, but to not lose the game. Who knows, after this week J.P.’s stats could combine to be one good game. Don’t look for any Bills’ receiver to have a big day. When you get 125 passing yards a game, unless you’re working the “Randy-ratio” (Moss), its hard for a receiver to have good numbers.

McGahee looked better in Miami, but he still has not dominated a game. Nevertheless, Willis’s best game of the year did come against the Jets last year. With the Jets dismal offense, the Bills offense should be on the field a lot tiring out the Jets’ D. Keeping the D on the field and most likely a big lead should be a good combination for Willis to have a break out game.

Fantasy, Picks & Predictions
The Jets really can’t do anything right and this game shouldn’t be close, especially with a large number of McFadden’s rowdy crowd going up for the game.

“Pinto” Kenny Johnson’s 200th at Pole # 6 Brings Good Luck
Also, the Bills can’t lose on Pinto Kenny’s 200th game. So the Bills should cover the 5.5 point spread and improve their record in the AFC East. Separately, after last week I don’t think I can ever pick the Bills to cover the over, so take under 34. Willis will be the game’s top fantasy performer.

Around the league Donovan McNabb should be the best quarterback. He has 664 yards and 5 touch downs this year and is going against a weak San Francisco D. Stephen Jackson going against Arizona should be the top runner this week. Larry Fitzgerald will find the end zone for the first time this season and be the league’s best receiver this week. The Bills’ D may “throw a shut out” along with Baltimore against Cleveland. Having either will be a treat this week.

Bills Try To Bounce Back To “Squish the Fish”

After a very close game against New England (a team that has had the Bills number for the last couple of years) the Bills have more to look forward to this season.

The Challenges of Playing at Miami in September
This week they head into Miami, where the Bills complete the toughest first two games of any NFL team so far this year. The Bills love to “squish the fish”, but Ralph Wilson’s warriors have a big challenge at hand. Playing in Miami’s high heat during September certainly does not work in Buffalo’s favor, and being on the road has seemed to be a problem for most recent Bills teams.

Difficult Decisions With The Bills Young Defense
The biggest question for the Bills this week will be whether the defense can repeat their inspiring performance from last week’s heart breaking loss. Sadly, the “D” won’t have the same personnel as last week. Troy Vincent suffered a hamstring injury that initially seemed like it would have kept him out for about four weeks, but Head Coach Dick Jauron decided to put Vincent on the injured reserve, ending his season. Takeo Spikes has missed practice all this week also with a hamstring injury and very well might not play.

If Spikes does not play, the Bills would either let Mario Haggan take Spikes’ place or move Angelo Crowell back to the strong side and let Keith Ellison or Josh Stamer play the weak side. With the other three linebackers all unproven, the Bills really need Takeo on the field. Also Crowell, one of last year’s most pleasant surprises, made some mistakes against the Patriots. Crowell was completely fooled on the touchdown to RB Kevin Faulk, and he also lost track of TE Ben Watson on a big play over the middle.

With a hurting line backing corps, the Bills need a big game out of the “D” line. Miami has a weak middle of their offensive line, including overweight, ineffective Bennie Anderson, who failed miserably on the Bills line last year. Free agent signing Larry Tripplett and rookie Kyle Williams need to have big games. Ronnie Brown is touted as a future big time running back, but he’s still unproven. However the Bills did let up 183 yards on the ground to the Pats last week. The run D really needs to step up. Look for Fletcher, Schobel, and Tripplett to have big games.

After losing Troy Vincent on the second drive of last weeks game, the secondary still played an incredible game, holding Tom Brady to 11-23 passing with only 163 yards. Nate Clements didn’t seem to make a tackle on a receiver all game, which is always a good sign for a “cover” corner back. First round pick, Donte Whittner also got his first NFL interception, which he would have scored on if it were not for a “phantom” block in the back penalty.

Starting next to Whittner as the Free Safety in place for Vincent will be 4th round pick Ko Simpson. Simpson has impressed coaches all through training camp and practice and played well last Sunday. With two rookie safeties, there could be a few mistakes made over the middle but these two definitely have the speed and athleticism to make up for them. Also with Pro-Bowlers Nate Clements, Terrence McGee, and London Fletcher helping them out, do not look for the secondary to miss a beat. Especially with the performance of fading Daunte Culpepper last week.

The Bills Offense Has To Improve To Win Big AFC East Road Games
The offense also needs to play like they did before the failed 4th down conversion vs. the Patriots. After that play, the Bills did not pick up another 1st down all game. J.P. Losman did look pretty impressive though. Excluding the unfortunate, game-turning safety, Losman looked comfortable in the pocket completing 15 of 23 passes to seven different receivers. He improved in preseason, winning the job over veteran Kelly Holcomb and free agent, Craig Nall. Since Losman has only won one regular season game in his nine career starts, don’t look for him to carry the team, but he could be a good producer, who can make a play or two when we need it. With Miami’s starting corner back Travis Daniels doubtful and after losing Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison in back to back years, look for the Bills to challenge Miami’s secondary.

For Losman to be in position to be a winner, Willis McGahee has to return to the form of his first year starting. Willis, along with the rest of the offense, slowed down in the second half last week, finishing with only 70 rushing yards on 20 carries. It still seems like the offensive line isn’t helping McGahee out as much as he might want, but he must be dominant for the Bills to succeed this week. Miami’s Defense is getting old and Willis has loved running in Miami in the past, so he could have a big game.

No Bills receiver had a really big game last week. Josh Reed was the leader with three catches for 40 yards. With all the speed the Bills have in their receiving core with Lee Evans, Peerless Price, Roscoe Parrish, and Andre Davis, it was surprising to see that the longest catch was only for 20 yards last week. Lee Evans needs to establish himself as a true number one receiver, so he should get more looks this week especially down field. To open up the running game the Bills will need to stretch the field, and they certainly have the receivers to do so.

After coming of a terrible offensive performance vs. the Steelers and with an aging defense, Miami can’t over look the charging Buffalo Bills this weekend. If Takeo plays most of the game the Bills have a great shot at the upset. If not, the Bills will have a tough time, but you never know which rookies could step up.

Finally, for all of you watching the game for fantasy points and parlays, I like the Bills to cover the 7-point spread and over 37. The best starts this week for your team are Willis McGahee, the Bills’ defense, Ronnie Brown, and Randy McMichael.