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With Playoff Drought looming, our only hope is to "Billieve"

by Kevin Plinzke

By Kevin Plinzke

Tue, Dec 6th 2016 10:00 pm

 Bills fans, we've been here before. It's a five-week season from here on out, and every single game has the utmost of importance to the Bills playoff chances. 

Doesn't it just feel like Déjá vu? All over again? For the 17th year in a row? 

A few key early season losses that were mind numbingly frustrating (looking at you, officials of the Seattle game, and week two Ryan Fitzpatrick.) The Bills now face an uphill battle to overcome the historic 16-year playoff drought. Fans of the team are so fed up with the same old story. The losses early make coming back and making the playoffs that much harder. 

The Bills will have a couple of very difficult matchups in the coming weeks, starting with a road tilt against Oakland this Sunday. By the time you're reading this, the result of the game will be known, but that won't stop me from sticking my neck out here. Look for that scrappy Bills team to throw a couple of punches (hopefully figuratively, possibly literally) and steal some points. I don't know that I would go so far to pick the Bills in this one, but I think Buffalo is gonna go out there and fight their guts out, like they do every week. And look for number five, Tyrod Taylor to make some big plays. 

This Oakland pass defense has been suspect all season, and I think if Sammy Watkins can return to full form, or at least be as healthy as he was against Jacksonville, Buffalo could hit some throws deep down the field. Another variable in the game will be neutralizing the explosiveness of Oaklands stud pass rusher, Khalil Mack. If Taylor can use that rare escapability of his, there could be huge chunks of yards gained from quarterback runs, something Taylor has excelled in. Taylor even leads the NFL in yards per rushing attempt. 

Taylor has been a definite bright spot in this confusing season full of injuries and missed opportunities. If anything, he certainly didn't hurt the notion that he could someday be a franchise QB. Sure, he misses throws on short to intermediate routes, and sure he misses guys running free down the middle of the field, but the fire and tenacity he brings is something the Bills haven't seen in a long time from their signal caller. If it's third and long and Buffalo seemingly has no chance to convert, just wait until T-Mobile breaks the pocket and escapes for a big gain, narrowly finding the sticks and diving for a first down. He does it seemingly every week, and it should give Bills fans plenty of hope that Taylor can be the guy. 

Oakland game aside, the Bills have (what should be) "gimme games" against the Browns and Jets left, two tougher games against Pittsburgh, and division rival, and another team who stole a game against Buffalo earlier this season, in the 7-4 and surprisingly successful Miami Dolphins. That's a game the Bills and fans alike have had circled ever since the chippy first meeting of these teams that ended in a 28-25 Miami victory, and Buffalo losing its starting safety, and heart and soul of the secondary, Aaron Williams. This happened on a play where Miami wideout Jarvis Landry laid Williams out away from the ball, and as a result he has been considering retirement due to the surgery on his neck less than a year ago. 

Of those games, it is my hope that Buffalo steals a win from Oakland or Pittsburgh, and manages to sweep the Dolphins, Jets and Browns. At 10-6, a playoff spot is nowhere near a guarantee; in fact, in a season where the AFC west has three teams who are all in a position to finish better than that, it probably won't be a year that playoffs for Buffalo is in the cards. Unfortunately, we're all too familiar with this narrative. 

While playoffs are unlikely, one thing remains consistent with this team, and its fan base. They are going to be circling the wagons over the course of the last five games of the regular season. Each game is winnable, and this team has proved its capable of going on absurd winning streaks. 

If they fall short of the playoffs, I feel it would be a rash decision to fire Head Coach Rex Ryan or General Manager Doug Whaley. The two have done their jobs just fine, with injuries and untimely bad luck playing a huge part in the lack of success this season. But I'm getting ahead of myself. There are five games left for this Bills team to show the NFL what it's made of, and a slim chance is better than no chance. Hopefully the Bills don't take the "Sound of Music" approach, and the playoff drought isn't "16, going on 17" but only time will tell. 

It has been my pleasure writing for you this semester, and if you have taken the time to read any of my stories, I greatly appreciate you and your interest. I hope we can keep the conversation going long after the semester, as I love interesting dialogue about the Bills, and sports in general. My Twitter handle is @Kevp14. I would love to hear from any of you about the Bills or anything going on in the sports world. 

 

kplin1@u.brockport.edu