Revisiting my 31 predictions for the Bills 2011 season

Fred

I posted these predictions on 9/10/11. What kind of fortune teller am I? Am I Whoopi Goldberg from Ghost or the chick who told Pee Wee Herman his bike was in the Alamo basement?

1) Will Ryan Fitzpatrick pass for over 20 touchdowns? No. I think Fitzpatrick will get in the range of 16-18 touchdowns. Don’t get me wrong, I want Fitz to play well because he’s a great guy and an even better story, but I think defenses are going to catch up to him like they did at the end of last year. Plus the Bills really didn’t improve their offense via the draft or free agency. Again, Donald Jones is your #2 wideout…not good.

  • Answer: Yes (24 touchdowns)
  • Analysis: Funny, but around week 3, I was about as off as a…well, Fitzpatrick bomb (9 TDs through 3 games). However, Fitz came crashing back to earth during the 2nd half of the season. So, I was only off by four TDs.

2) Who will lead the team in sacks? Shawne Merriman. This is more of an indictment against the Bills pass rushers, as none of them have had a season where they had more than 5.5 sacks. There’s no denying that Merriman has looked dominant during training camp and the games he’s played when healthy. Health, of course, is the key. Even still, if he plays 10-12 games this year, I think he gets somewhere between 7-8 sacks.

  • Answer: Marcell Dareus.
  • Analysis: Yeah, I wasn’t even close on this one. Merriman had 1 sack in only five games of work. However, the Bills pass rush was still a joke.

3) Will the Bills have more than 11 interceptions (Last year’s total)? Yes. I think the biggest reason why the Bills went from 28 interceptions in 2009 to 11 last year had to do with pressure. Losing Aaron Schobel was a factor in the Bills being able to rush the passer, as Kyle Williams led the team in sacks with just 5.5. The Bills should be able to rush their passer better with Merriman and Dareus. Plus when you throw in that the Bills are in year two of a 3-4 defense, you have to be somewhat optimistic about the total going up. Come on, 11 is pathetic.

  • Answer: Yes (20)
  • Analysis: Yeah, I won this going away. The Bills surpassed last season’s total by week 6.

4) Will Stevie Johnson have over 80 catches? Yes. I’ve read a lot of feedback on how Johnson is catching everything in sight during camp. I think with Johnson being more diverse in his overall game, with route running and his deceptive speed, that will help him get open. He’s a player, kids. In fact, I’m picking him as the offensive MVP.

  • Answer: No (76)
  • Analysis: Damn you, Chan Gailey! You had to bench Stevie during his final game. All he needed was 4 more grabs!

5) Will the Bills improve in their run defense? Yes. You can’t get any worse than giving up almost 3,000 yards in rushing last season. Plus, I think the Bills inside linebacking corps is much better than Poz or Andra Davis from last year. I think Kirk Morrison will eventually supplant Davis in the starting line-up and with Barnett being more athletic than Poz, it should only help plug up the gaps. Oh, and Marcell Dareus should be helpful as well. Look for the rush defense to rank between 15-20. Not amazing, but much better than last year.

  • Answer: Yes (28th)
  • Analysis: Pssh…The still stink against the run and I take no solace in being right.

6) Who isn’t being talked about enough, but should be? Dave Wannstedt. I know he’s only coaching the inside linebackers, but I assure you, George Edwards and Chan Gailey are listening to him. If there’s one thing Wannstedt knows something about, it’s defense. Eleven times a Dave Wannstedt team was ranked in the top 12 in defense, and never less than 20th overall. Trust me..he’s a key.

  • Answer: Um, No.
  • Analysis: The Bills defense was a train wreck. Wannstedt, Buddy Ryan or Angels in the Outfield couldn’t help them this year.

7) Will the Bills beat the Patriots or the Jets even once this year? No. To be honest, I think the Bills match up better against the Pats than the Jets. I just think the Bills offense doesn’t match-up well against the Jets defense, which is prone to blitz and attack the opposition. We all know the Bills offensive line doesn’t match up well against pressure defenses. I know Sanchez stinks, but if the Bills can’t stop the run, they have no chance against the Jets. The Bills were lucky to beat the Jets once in 2009, when Sanchez threw six interceptions. However, under Ryan, the Bills have only scored four offensive touchdowns in four games. As for the Pats, I usually worry more about Brady, but as for their defense, they don’t scare me all that much. Plus, the Bills have always played well against them the first time around. Anyways, I think they will play the Pats close in Buffalo, but all bets are off afterwards.

  • Answer: Yes. Patriots
  • Analysis: Yes, it was the highlight of the year.

8) Who will be a surprise player for the Bills? Roscoe Parrish. I didn’t really get the uproar from WGR about the Bills looking at re-signing Roscoe Parrish. I thought he played well last year and was on pace for 66 catches before he got hurt. I think Gailey loves Parrish because the coach likes those gritty, scat back type of players. I think with Johnson being double-teamed, it will open up a lot of 1-on-1 match-ups for Parrish. If he stays healthy, which is the big key, I think he can catch 50-60 balls.

  • Answer: offensive line
  • Analysis: Yeah, his one catch was huge for this team! The Bills line was outstanding this season. Pass protection never seemed to be an issue (Allowed 23 sacks-Least in the NFL) and the Bills averaged 4.9 yards a carry (5th best in the league) 

9) Who needs to step-up this year? CJ Spiller. About a month ago, I would have said Leodis McKelvin, but because of the “running back controversy”, I think it goes to CJ Spiller. Everyone loves Fred Jackson. The fans, his teammates, Marv Levy, Wall Street Journal probably thinks he’s hot. Because of that, Spiller has a really big shadow to overcome. If he struggles and Jackson continues to prove that he could be a 1,200-yard back, storm clouds are going to start brewing. Again, it’s up to the Bills to see what they have with Spiller because of his draft status and if cutting out Jackson’s carries means we get more Spiller, then so be it.

10) Who will the Bills beat this year? Chiefs, Raiders, Bengals, Broncos, Redskins and Titans. Yeah, not exactly a whose who for football teams.

  • Answer: Chiefs, Pats, Raiders, Eagles, Redskins, Broncos.
  • Analysis: Well, I got four out of six right. That’s a decent number, right?

11) Which 2nd year player will step-up this year? CJ Spiller. Well, I know a lot of people have been picking Alex Carrington to possibly be that guy because of his training camp, but I think it’s going to be Spiller. I just can’t fathom how a 1st round pick with the talent level of Spiller, won’t be able to bounce back from his anemic 283 yards rushing from last year. The problem with Carrington is that he’s not going to really play all that much with Kelsay and Merriman in front of him.

  • Answer: CJ Spiller.
  • Analysis: I mean, really, who else could you pick? The 2010 draft class is pretty much non-existent. Spiller showed flashes when Jackson went down and it will be interesting to see what they will do next year with both backs starting.

12) Will the new parking rules hinder tailgating? Honestly, I bring this question up because I am so sick and tired of hearing Bills fans bitch about the parking situation. Um, how about we look out to save the environment? You know, ride in one car. Last I checked, we aren’t all driving Beetles or Fiats. Roll in one car and shut up. Stop with the losing one hour of boozing too. My goodness. I love a party just like the next guy, but four hours are plenty. If you need to find ways to funnel Jack Daniels, please join a frat.

  • Analysis: Maybe it was a reason why the Bills didn’t sell out their last three home games. Alright, not really.

13) Who will make the pro bowl for the Bills?  Eric Wood and Kyle Williams. I’ve always had this inkling that high picks who are along the offensive line, will always get their dues because of their draft status. So, that is why I’m going with Wood. As for Williams, everyone knows who he is and I think he will only get better with Dareus and Merriman on the squad. If Merriman stays healthy, I’m talking he plays 16-games, I think he could make it. He’s one popular dude. Stevie Johnson seemed to be on pace to making the pro bowl last year, but then he slowed down after the drop against the Steelers. I just think there are too many wides in the AFC.

  • Answer: No one.
  • Analysis: I think Eric Wood would have probably made it if he stayed healthy. He was having a great year up until his injury. Kyle Williams never really did anything this year before injuries stopped his season. Fred Jackson would have been in Hawaii if he didn’t. 

14) Will the Bills miss Poz and Whitner? HAHAHAHHAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Um, what do you think the answer was going to be?

  • Answer: Correct!
  • Analysis: I don’t care how many times Whitner makes the playoffs for San Fran. Dude was overrated as they come. As for Poz, same thing.

15) Who will lead the team in interceptions? George Wilson. I’ve been banging the drum for years that I thought Wilson was a better safety than Whitner. He has more career interceptions than Whitner even though he wasn’t a full-time starter. I think he’s going to have anywhere between 4-6 interceptions this year. He tends to play well in pass defense and maybe being a converted wide receiver has helped him in pass coverage by reading the QBs eyes.

  • Answer: George Wilson (4)
  • Analysis: Wilson was one of the lone bright sports for the team defensively. He had picks in four of his first 7 seven games and has developed into a decent tackler. I do wonder if injuries hindered his interception total, as he didn’t have picks in his last seven games.

16) Who will be our new Aaron Maybin? Demetrius Bell. Since Maybin left the Bills, there has to be a new guy for Bills’ fans to boo. The Bills offensive line has had issues since Jim Kelly wore zubaz pants. They are terrible. Who is the guy that will probably earn the blunt of that? Gotta be Bell. He’s the epitome of what has been wrong with the line for the last decade. “Um, yeah, lets just throw some undrafted guy in there and make him our left tackle.” Yeah, it doesn’t really work that way.

  • Answer: Stevie Johnson.
  • Analysis: I know it’s crazy, but Johnson was always the center of attention. It was either good or really bad. Fitzpatrick could have made this list, but I think there’s more of a disconnect with Stevie than Fitz.

17) Who will be this year’s most improved player? CJ Spiller. Yup, I’ve kind of done a 180 on Spiller. Look, if Spiller shows any promise, I’m talking like he busts out a 15-yard run, he’s going to carry the ball for the majority of the game. If he shows any promise, he’ll be getting the ball way more than Fred Jackson.

  • Answer: CJ Spiller.
  • Analysis: Alright, I’m grading my son’s paper over here. But can you name someone else? Maybe George Wilson.

18) Who will be the year’s most disappointing player? Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yes, it pains me to say this about Fitz. However, I just don’t see how he can be a better with the o-line we have and Lee Evans being gone. The Bills just didn’t do enough to help Fitz out. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Answer: Shawne Merriman.
  • Analysis: Fitzpatrick might have won this when you consider how well he played at the start of the season and then crashed down to earth. However, I think Merriman trumps him in the disappointment department. 9-million bucks for 1 sack? Yeesh.

19) What are the Bills expectations? I know a number of fans/media have said that the Bills going 7-9 would be terrible. Really? Look, I’ll admit that there are ways that a 7-9 season can be misleading. I remember in 2007, during one of Jauron’s epic 7-9 seasons, the Bills were 30th in offense and 18th in defense. Quick..who were break out stars for that team or at least guys we thought would take the next step? Trent Edwards and his 10 touchdowns? Lynch and his 1,100 yards rushing? Lee Evans 55 catches? There weren’t any individuals who really stepped up. However, if they go 7-9 and like 6-7 guys step up, it will be a successful season. Bottom line: It’s all about having individuals step up.

20) How many touchdowns will David Nelson catch? Five. I think Nelson will be 2nd on the team in touchdown catches. It’s pretty obvious as to why that will be the reason. Football 101, he’s a big target and when the team is inside the redzone, he’ll probably be Fitz’s goto guy.

  • Answer: Five
  • Analysis: I am a genius. You know, when you look at Nelson’s 61 grabs, that is quite a coop when you consider he’s a 2nd year undrafted player. Also, that’s the most catches by a Bills #2 receiver since 2002 (Peerless Price).

21) How many different offensive linemen will start this year? Eh……8. Moving on.

  • Answer: 8 (Bell, Urbik, Wood, Pears, Levitre, Hairston, Brown, Rinehart)
  • Analysis: I loved the play of the offensive line this year, even though I have no clue who Colin Brown is.

22) When will WGR mention Andrew Luck? 10 days ago.

  • Answer: Not really.
  • Analysis: Because of the Bills hot start, the bottoming out for Andrew Luck (Which was a hot topic last year) never really had legs this season.

23) Who will replace Gus Johnson? Seriously, this is like the worst news for Bills fans. We always get stuck with the D-team when it comes to announcers, but sometimes, we’d end up getting Gus Johnson. But, noooooooooooooooooooooooooo. CBS couldn’t agree to a new deal with him and now we may get stuck with Dan fricken Dierdorf or Randy Cross. Great…However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel…YES! And it counts! Marv Albert is on CBS and we get him for this Sunday’s game. Back in the day, Marv use to be NBC’s 2nd announcer for football next to Dick Enberg. He actually called a few Bills’ playoff games from the early 90′s.

  • Answer: Definitely not Marv Albert.
  • Analysis: What a colossal bust!? Fitzgerald? Donald Jones and Stevie Johnson are one in the same? Lame-o, Marv.

24) What has me the most excited about the Bills defense? Defensive line. The thought of having Edwards and Dareus on the outside, only to then flex to a 4-3 and move Troup inside with Williams, kind of gets me excited. I think the Bills have a ton of beef upfront and when you calculate how they are in year two of moving to a hybrid defense, I think the kids may be alright.

  • Answer: Um, still searching. Alright, give it to the 2011 Draft class.
  • Analysis: Defensive line didn’t do much. Dareus was OK for a rookie, but he needs help. The Kyle Williams injury really screwed the line. You have to like the play of Kelvin Sheppard, Aaron Williams and Justin Rogers. However, I always throw caution into the wind with young guys. Just because they are playing, doesn’t mean they will end up being players. I remember people went gaga over the 2005 draft class because Donte Whitner, Terrence Pennington and Keith Ellison were starting as rookies. Sames goes for the 2007 class of Lynch, Poz and Edwards. In other words, talk to me in three years.

25) What has me the least excited about the Bills defense? Corners. I’ve always felt that the Bills have had overrated cornerbacks. Actually, that’s a little harsh. I think they are just too inconsistent. I do believe the Bills run defense will be much better this year, and because of that, look for opposing offenses to throw more often. The Bills gave up 28 touchdown passes last year, which tied for 6th most given up. Of course, having a decent pass rush would help these guys.

  • Answer: Pass rush.
  • Analysis: Awful. 23 sacks and if you take away the 10 sack performance against the Skins, it goes down 13. Jared Allen had 22 sacks by himself.

26) What has me the most excited about the Bills offense? Stevie Johnson. Three years from now, who will still be here from the Bills’ offense? Well, Eric Wood seems likely, but he’s a center and they are boring. CJ Spiller possibly, but we haven’t seen anything from him yet. Well, that really leaves Stevie, right? It will be fun to see if Stevie can duplicate his 1,000 yard season from last year. Not only do I like his game on the field -with his steller route running and big play ability- but he’s a real cool guy off the field. I like cool!

  • Answer: Fred Jackson
  • Analysis: Fred really made the offense go this season. He was on pace for over 2,000 yards in total offense and was being talked about as a MVP. He’s definitely the most exciting guy.

27) What has me the least excited about the Bills offense? Offensive line. I can’t even get into it anymore. We know the shortcomings. However, if you want something to hang your hat on, Fitzpatrick was sacked only 24 times last year in 13 games.

  • Answer: WRs
  • Analysis: If Stevie leaves, we are in serious trouble.

28) Will the Bills make a trade? Yes. I have a feeling #22 may be shown the door. Just my own speculation.

  • Answer: No one.
  • Analysis: I have no clue why I mentioned this. There was the Lynch trade last year and then in 2008, John McCargo got dealt, only to then be returned by the Colts.

29) What will be the best game this year? Eagles vs Bills. Something about that game really has me thinking it will be special. Maybe it will be like the Dallas game from 2007, when no one saw the Bills putting up a fight. Sometimes, the best teams can bring out the best in you.

  • Answer: Pats vs Bills (Week 3)
  • Analysis: The Eagles game was a lot of fun. Seeing Philly’s defensive line jump offsides was killer, and so was watching Fred Jackson punish the Eagles. However, it really goes back to the first Pats game.

30) What will be the worst game this year? Skins vs Bills. Seriously? Rex Grossman? Toronto? Shanahan? blaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • Answer: Dolphins vs Bills (Week 10: 35-8)
  • Analysis: That was a tire fire. I just remember the Bills couldn’t snap the ball and we made Matt Moore look like a Hall of Famer. To me, that was the official end to the Bills season. The confidence went out the window after that game. 

31) What will the Bills record be? 6-10. However, if 5-6 guys step-up, it will be a nice 2nd year for a rebuilding plan.

  • Answer: 6-10.
  • Analysis: I am good. Alright, I didn’t except a 5-2 start to then end up losing 8 of your last 9 games. It was the most unconventional way to go 6-10 in the history of football. Oh, right, we went from 5-1 to 7-9 in 2008. Yeah…only in Buffalo.
Joe

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The Lord of Buffalo Wins

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