That’s right. I’m not going to make you wait until the end of the column to find out. I’m picking Buffalo 31-17 over the Dolphins.
I have to tell you. I’ve been pretty down on this team throughout the offseason. I wasn’t convinced about the front office. I wasn’t convinced about the draft. But I’ve seen enough through the pre-season that has sparked a measure of optimism. I’m not sure if it’s well-founded optimism, but I’m riding this horse all the way to Sunday.
There are a few things I’ll be looking for in the game from my perch in Section 310 at Ralph Wilson Stadium this Sunday:
Can we throw 10-15 yard intermediate routes? This is a family of patterns that has been missing from our office since the 1990’s. Every good team, no, make that every other team in the NFL, relies on these patterns and yet we avoid them like they’ve gone out of style. But Roscoe Parrish’s touchdown on a crossing route this pre-season made me think Chan may have made a point of getting us back into a modern offensive scheme.
Can we get Spiller the ball in space? Screens, passes in the flat, draws, lining up in the slot vs. a slower LB. The possibilities are endless. The preseason certainly made it seem like Chan’s zeroed on in this as well. Starting Spiller definitely given us a sense of the coach’s confidence in the rookie. Freddie and Marshawn can pound the rock into the line, and hopefully that frees us up for a few splashy plays from CJ that could make a big difference.
Is our Offensive Line that bad or just below average? Sure, we all saw Cornell get handed his lunch every other play. And I’ve never been a big Hangartner fan. But Wood and Levitre are solid and I’ve always held out hope that two coaching staffs can’t be wrong about Bell. Given our shortage of quality tight ends, I’m not sure how much max protect we’ll use. So I think it comes down to whether our five can hold up on their own enough to keep Trent off the ground.
Is our secondary fantastic or just above average? If our DBs are just above average, we’ll probably see too much of Henne-Marshall for my taste. But, I’m thinking that we can hold this to a minimum. McGee and Florence have looked strong to quite strong. If Byrd’s healthy and resumes his ball-hawking ways, you never know how much fun our defense might be on Sunday. A great push up front really makes the DBs look better than they are, so I’m hoping we’ll be dialing up the blitz packages to help them out a bit.
Are the Dolphins buying the negative press this week? Injuries have been piling up. Jake Long just returned to practice at half-speed on Wednesday. Bill Parcells appears to have been demoted. Are the Dolphins feeling the heat? People are definitely starting to ask questions and worry about the teams prospects. It’s the perfect opportunity for the Bills to steal the opener at home.
Can we make offensive adjustments at halftime? I don’t really know what to say about this. We haven’t managed to do it in a decade. If Chan is worth his salt, we’ll see it in the first drive of the third quarter.
Sure there are other questions. What about our switch to the 3-4, or Steve Johnson, or Trent Edward’s confidence level? All good questions, but for me I’ll take crossing routes, blanket coverage, and some smart offensive game-planning. Is that too much to ask for the first game of the season?
31-17 Bills. We get it done it week one! Every enjoy the game.