While the mission to get to 7-7 and eventually 9-7 is the current goal, most fans are probably worried about Buffalo’s draft stock and the chances that they will be able to land a franchise quarterback in the first round.
Here are the awards after the season’s third quarter.
3rd Quarter MVP – CJ Spiller and Mario Williams: Spiller has continued to dazzle and Super Mario has awoken from his slumber. His wrist injury must have been serious after all. He has snuck into the top-10 sack leaders in the league after rolling up five since the bye week. Spiller’s play continues to improve despite the contrary in terms of touches.
3rd Quarter LVP – Chan Gailey: Gailey has come under more fire in the past four weeks than at any point in his tenure. His ill-fated marriage to Fitzpatrick continues to taint his decision making. His most recent gaffe has been in field position and field goal determinations. He has twice declined to kick from 50 yards indoors but allowed Rian Lindell to boot one in the rain on Sunday. Odd choices and the failure to truly justify his decision making has come to infuriate most of the fan base.
Hot Read: Mario Williams 9.5 sacks are the third highest total in his career and he has five sacks, two passes defended and two turnovers since the bye week.
Top Rookie – Stephon Gilmore The race was close at midseason, but I feel that Stephon Gilmore has had the better four games since week eight. While Cordy Glenn may be more effective as an all-around player, the strides that Gilmore has made are impressive. His recent improvements really paint the picture of what could be a shutdown corner.
Defensive MVP – Jarius Byrd: Mario Williams was the team’s most valuable player over the past four games. However, Byrd continues to prove that he is a key cog on the defensive side of the ball. He is lurking near the top of the NFL in turnovers and has become adept in the run and pass game. If there was anyone worthy of a raise, it would be him.
Hot Read: Byrd’s knack for the football isn’t a wasted commodity. Buffalo has only four turnovers in their seven losses and 12 in their five victories.
Super Mario Moment – Strip, sack, fumble recovery vs. Jacksonville: His hat trick of sacks against Indy is the obvious answer here, but he was a scoop and score away from football’s version of an unassisted triple play against the Jags. The move on that play is exactly what was expected of him when he signed and it was a play you expect from a big play players.
Most Impressive Turnaround – Run defense: Credit whoever you please, but the run defense went from downright awful to quite respectable in the last few weeks. In fact, over the last four games the Bills have the best run defense in the NFL. Maybe the improved play on the defensive line has provided the penetration and freedom for the linebackers to make plays. Perhaps there were schematic changes made by the coaching staff. Either way, the unit has vastly improved. The true test of their improvement comes against Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks impressive ground attack.
Hot Read: The Bills run defense is still ranked 30th overall with a 139 yard average. However, their two worst performances since the bye were 118 and 117 yard efforts against the Texans and Patriots, respectively. Even extending those numbers for the entire year puts the Bills in the middle of the pack. Their other three games? 60 yards (MIA), 87 yards (IND), 50 yards (JAC).
Worst Regression – Justin Rogers: The second-year corner showed promise as a rookie and made further strides in the offseason. He was rewarded with an increased role and became the main nickel corner after week one. However, he has suffered a significant regression and culminated his poor defensive play with an even worse decision on fielding a punt at the five on Sunday. He muffed that punt and turned the ball over inside the five. It has been a tough stretch for him.
Hot Read: Rogers quick promotion was tied to Leodis McKelvin’s struggles in week one and injuries to Terrence McGee and Ron Brooks. While McGee is out for the year, Brooks has quickly bypassed Rogers and is seeing time opposite Stephon Gilmore as McKelvin and Aaron Williams rest injuries as well.
Most Shocking Revelation – Running the football: Amazingly, the Bills chose to run the football as often as they could on Sunday and they were able to dictate the pace of the game and ultimately the outcome. It is truly unbelievable to think that a backfield with Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller would be capable of taking the ball more than 40 times and dominating an opponent.
Actual Shocking Revelation – Alex Carrington: On a more serious note, Carrington has been a breath of fresh air for the front four. There is little drop off when he is in the game and his continued progression should be something to keep an eye on.
#GiveUpForGeno: It looks as if the Bills are all but out of the Geno Smith sweepstakes. In fact, they might fall out of the Manti Te’o sweepstakes if they keep losing. Of course, if the Irish manage to beat Bama, Te’o might go second overall. With the Bills slipping towards the middle of the draft, their prospects become quite cloudy. QB and LB are the biggest need, which direction they go between picks 10-15 is anyone’s guess.
Revisiting Predictions: My first prediction that the Bills would spilt their games against Arizona, Tennessee, San Francisco and Houston. If it weren’t for those idiotic pass plays against the Titans I would have been right. My last prediction was that the Bills would run up a 3-1 record against the Phins, Colts, Jags and Pats. While the Bills were a few plays away from going 4-0 in this stretch, they finish 2-2. So that makes my bold predictions 0-2 on the year.
Bold Prediction for the final four games: Considering that my first two predictions were more conservative than bold, I might as well get crazy here. While my confidence that the Bills win out is next to nothing, I think they will go 3-1 in their final four games. That includes a win over the Seakhawks. We will see how accurate that guess turns out to be.