CAPACCIO: Bills-Saints: Arrow Up/Arrow Down

November 12, 2017 - 9:57 pm

This isn’t a cop-out, and it’s not me being lazy.  

I tried, I really did.  I promise.  I tried to parse the Arrows Down into maybe six seven of them.  But I couldn’t.  There were too many, whether it be individual players, coaches, units, situations, or statistics.  Throw a dart at the roster or a stat sheet and you'll likely hit something that could be on that list.

I tried to find a couple worthwhile Arrows Up, but also couldn’t.  It really was that kind of day in Orchard Park.  Nothing went right.  Everything went wrong.  No one played well enough to warrant mention in this space, and too many players and things went so wrong that I couldn’t justify putting some in and leaving others out.

I had no idea where to start and certainly wouldn’t know where to end.  

So all I can do is write about The Big Picture after the Bills 47-10 loss at home to the New Orleans Saints.

I’m officially concerned.

Concerned that everything so many people worried and talked about is coming to fruition.  That this team was living on borrowed time at 5-2, doing it mostly with a turnover formula that couldn’t be sustained.  Or that it was only a matter of time before a roster made up of mostly non-big-name players who came from somewhere else after other teams didn’t want them would finally start to catch up to them.

It’s hard not to feel like that after this game.  It was a complete and total dismantling by the Saints, who ran for 300 yards before two kneel-downs gave them a final total of 298.  Who rushed for 20 first downs and had 32 of them overall.  Who never punted, not once.

The Bills had ten days to rest up and prepare for this one after what had been their worst performance of the season their last game at the Jets.  Yet they still came up with the performance they did in front of their home crowd.

“Embarrassing” is a word several players used in the locker room after the game.  They talked about their pride.  Well, if a blow to their pride is what it takes to get them to regroup and put forth a better performance - a much better one - at Los Angeles next Sunday, then that’s fine, because something has to or this season will go the way of every other one we’ve seen during this seventeen year playoff drought.

But the better news is they’re not there yet.   Believe it or not (because I know it doesn’t feel like it), even after that horrific loss, after everything else that played out this weekend, the Bills are still in the sixth and final playoff spot n the AFC.  Nine games in and still in playoff position.  That’s not a bad thing at all.  But they’re hanging on by a thread, and another loss next week will most likely drop them out of that spot and back “in the hunt,” where they seem to be right around Thanksgiving every year.

I remember a caller last week telling me the season is on the line against the Saints.  I steadfastly disagreed, because it wasn’t.  It was a game against an NFC team to begin the second half of the season.  And again, they’re still in a playoff position.

But now I’ll say it myself.  A loss to the Chargers won’t end the season, but it will be crippling.  I’ll have a hard time even thinking about the postseason if that happens.  The game at LA is the start of seven in a row against AFC teams.  That’s every one of the Bills’ remaining games.  They are the only AFC team other than the Patriots to have only conference games left on their schedule.  They’re 3-2 right now in those contests, which isn’t a bad record.  But the reality is the margin for error has been erased.  5-5 overall and 3-3 in conference will drop the Bills to Just Another Team in a big mess of them in the AFC.  A win to get to 6-4 and 4-2 in the conference will reinvigorate a lot of great feelings about where this season could ultimately end up.

There are seven games left.  But I get a feeling the season is on the brink on the west coast next Sunday.

Before the conclusion of the Patriots at Broncos Sunday Night Football game:

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