Buffalo not worthy of playoffs

Bills' season has spiraled out of control. The problems are everywhere, says BFR's Marc Heintzman...

At this point in the season, the Buffalo Bills are in no way a playoff-caliber team. Anyway you look at it, this team is just not playing like it deserves a spot in the postseason. From the shaky quarterback play all the way up to the head-scratching coaching decisions, the Bills found a way to let their spectacular start crumble into stumbling finish.

Just look at the losses the team has compiled since going 5-1 to start the season. After they convincingly beat the Chargers in week 7, the Bills proceeded to drop three divisional games. These weren't even close games, they were out-played and out-matched for three games straight. How can you expect to even crawl into the playoffs if you are that far behind in your own division?

Then came the Monday night letdown against Cleveland. How does a playoff-ready team lose at home to an opponent that was 3-6? The Bills are supposed to have a huge home-field advantage, especially on a Monday night.

Fast forward two weeks later, and the Bills lose again at home-this time to the even more pathetic 49ers, a 3-8 team. Two embarrassing losses at home to sub-par teams is not going to be punching any tickets to the postseason.

It would be one thing if these games had been close. Save for the Cleveland game, all the losses have been convincing wins for the opponent. Simply put, the Bills have underachieved and squandered the lead they had in the division.

What's even sadder is the fact that nobody thinks the Bills can turn it around and save some face in the final games of the season. Why should they? The team isn't giving anyone anything to talk about on Sundays.

Trent Edwards is certainly not proving that he is in fact the Bills' quarterback of the future. Since his concussion, he's been a completely different player. His complete lack of confidence and poor play is actually opening up the old conversation of bringing in J.P. Losman, who demonstrated during the 49ers game that he is still a bottom-of-the-barrel quarterback. How can the Bills expect to go to the postseason when they have two shaky quarterbacks that can't spark an offense that has some playmakers?

Dick Jauron is someone else who seems to be in a funk. The coaching in the past few weeks has been so abysmal it has people seriously questioning the standards at Yale. Blown challenges, poor time management and other head-scratching calls have given Bills fans plenty of ammunition to run Jauron out of town. His icy, yet gentle demeanor doesn't help either.

Injuries have plagued the Bills for a second-straight season. Aaron Schobel's foot injury still remains a mystery, as does Donte Whitner's shoulder injury. Both are staples of the Bills defense and both are big question marks on Sundays because of their health. Teams need to be healthy if they plan on marching into January games, and the Bills are far away from being even close to a healthy team.

The odds are certainly stacked way up against the Bills in these final four games. An underachieving, poorly coached team that is plagued by injuries is not a team that belongs in the playoffs. The Bills are all of these things and can only dream about even having a slight chance at the postseason.

They not only need to win out, but they need their division rivals to suddenly start performing horribly. Again, there is little chance this will happen with the Jets, Patriots and Dolphins all playing their best football yet this season.

As it stands now, the Bills will miss out on the playoffs again this year. They simply aren't ready for the playoffs and fans will have yet another off-season to breakdown why. It's a very familiar tune on the same old, broken instrument for Bills fans. They saw two different teams this season: a confident, playoff-worthy team that started 5-1 and then the underachieving, 6-6 team that loses to the 49ers.

Whatever team decides to show up and finish out the season will determine how the Bills will be viewed going into the off-season and next season. If it's the 5-1 version, then fans may still have some hope. If it's the 6-6 version, prepare for a very long off-season of dissecting a very puzzling team that's in a state of confusion.

mdheintz@gmail.com


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