Snow Shoves Bills Into Prime Time, Ready Or Not
by Dave Staba (@DavidStaba) - posted 12:41 pm, November 24, 2014
At least you won’t have to stay up late.
Buffalo’s rescheduled, relocated game against the New York Jets is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m., live from climate-controlled Ford Field in Detroit, so the final gun should go off in time to allow viewers to catch the late news or the Bette Midler episode of Seinfeld and still get to bed at an hour appropriate for a school night.
Or, for fans who work non-traditional hours, the under-employed or those in need of a sporting-palate cleansing after being exposed to the Bills and Jets slopping it up for three-plus hours, there’s always the second half of Baltimore and New Orleans over on the originally scheduled Monday Night Football.
The Bills and Jets will be seen on CBS only by viewers in the metropolitan New York City market and upstate, along with Sunday Ticket subscribers across the country. Given the state of the competitors, this might seem like a mercy blackout by the NFL, but the limited broadcast results from the league’s obligations to the various networks carrying its games.
You can’t help but think, though, that CBS would have been willing to bump its block of laugh-track sit-coms and police-procedurals-with-a-twist, or that ESPN would have fought for the rights, if the Week 12 game displaced by a snow assault had been, say, New England-Detroit or Denver-Miami.
The Bills and Jets, though, were probably not going to stage an aesthetic triumph regardless of the date, time and location of their second annual meeting. Their first get-together somehow managed to be both high-scoring and dull, with long stretches of offensive ineptitude broken up by enough defensive breakdowns to get the final score to an unnatural-sounding 43-23, Buffalo.
Factor in the scheduling shift, additional travel required of both teams, and the Bills’ snow-induced layoff on the week following their Thursday-night dud in Miami, and you shouldn’t expect a taut thriller. Trying to predict how either of these teams will perform under the most favorable of circumstances has proven to be a game for suckers, so all the variables make it feel pretty silly to even try.
The knowables about tonight’s contest haven’t really changed since this preview, written after the first lake-effect blast, when it still seemed like Sunday in Orchard Park still seemed tenable. The second dose off Lake Erie took care of that possibility.
It also created the unique dynamic of elected officials telling the NFL to not even think about it, rather than meekly bowing to the will of The Shield, as well as the new Bills ownership facing their first real backlash over an ill-advised Tweet seeking people willing tohelp shovel out Ralph Wilson Stadium at a time when most of us were trying to figure out how to get to the end of our driveways.
Instead, the game wound up pushed back by a day and moved to Detroit, where Kyle Orton led a last-minute comeback in his first start for the Bills. With the exception of the aforementioned fluky blowout in New Jersey, Orton has gotten worse the more he’s become accustomed to Buffalo’s offense, so maybe the truncated, transplanted week of practice will actually help there.
Buffalo needs something to go right tonight in order to keep their dwindling playoff hopes from reaching the tortured-mathematics stage. A loss to the Jets would not only require the Bills to run an imposing table which includes dates with Denver, Green Bay and New England, the three clear-cut favorites to win Super Bowl XLIX heading into the weekend, according to the oddsmakers.
The Patriots did nothing to dissuade such thinking on Sunday, shredding Detroit’s top-ranked defense on the way to a 34-9 win. The Broncos and Packers weren’t quite as impressive, but wound up a field goal better than the Dolphins and Vikings, respectively.
Buffalo will need plenty of help to reach the postseason, and got a fair amount on Thursday and Sunday. Besides the Miami loss, Kansas City became Oakland’s first victim of the season and Houston fell to Cincinnati, moving the Bills ahead of the Texans in the wild-card race. If New Orleans beats Baltimore and Buffalo comes out ahead of the Jets, the Bills will remain within one game of the wild-card leaders with five to play.
They would be in better shape but for Billy Cundiff’s 37-yard walk-off field goal to get the Browns, who may or may not visit the region next Sunday, past Atlanta and a goal-line interception by St. Louis quarterback Shaun Hill, which allowed San Diego to escape with a 27-24 win.
For any of that to matter, though, Buffalo has to overcome the Jets and everything else the last week has wrought.