Matthews: Watching The Bills Is Un-Bear-Able



Watching and commenting on the Buffalo Bills is part of my job. It isn’t always fun or particularly interesting.

It has become tedious what is fast becoming a season to forget. Only seven games left. Can the Bills win one or two?

Here is my tweetbook for Sunday’s 41-9 home loss to the Chicago Bears, an average NFL team that played without injured superstar Khalil Mack and thoroughly outclassed the Bills. No surprise anymore:

“Are you getting tired of (LeSean) McCoy up the middle yet?”

“Short passes to McCoy – please!! Let him use his moves in space. Shady up the middle isn’t going to work, believe me.”

“At least Peterman in putting his passes where no one can catch them – Bills or Bears.”

“No INTs for Peterman yet. Not much else either.”

“(Charles) Clay hurt. (Jason) Croom in. Not a dad trade.”

“Bears 7, Bills 0.  One more score for Chicago and it could be an insurmountable lead. How will Peternan respond? I’m hoping but not too optimistic.”

“Bills penalized for too many players on defense. Incredible. So try 15.”

(After a texter responded that It was ridiculous for me to wonder if the Alabama Crimson Tide might be able to beat the Bills). “How about QB!!!! That’s sort of important, RB, WR, OL, LB, pass rush. Bills DO kick PATS and field goals better than most opponents, when they get a chance. Alabama might be the most-talented college team ever. The Bills offense is historically bad.”

“Logan Thomas dumb hit out of bounds. The Bills obviously can’t afford to help the Bears (with penalties).”

“Peterman missed a 5-yard toss to Ivory by 5 yards. Punt time.”

“Peterman has time to locate a receiver before taking off and was stopped far short of a first down.”

(After no penalty was called when a Bear clearly hit Peterman’s helmet). “Call that blow to the head. Brady would’ve got that call.”

(After a texter asked why not Colin Kaepernick instead of Nathan Peterman): “Peterman is much cheaper for a team going nowhere.”

(After a texter said Alabama has a dozen players on offense who’ll never collect an NFL paycheck). “How many players on Buffalo’s offense maybe should not be getting NFL paychecks?”

“Unlike Vontae Davis, if Nathan Peterman retires at halftime, I would understand and sort of glad.”

“That was about as brutal a first half as I’ve ever seen a Buffalo Bills team play. I feel sorry for Peterman. Not all his fault for sure.”

(A texter wondered if the Bills could top the Sabres on Saturday. Actually, they tied: 9 goals and 9 points).

“Remember before this season began, when most Bills fans checked off November 4 home versus Chicago as a victory?”

“Bears 28, Bills 3. Congrats. No shutout. Nine more field goals and the Bills might win.”

“I think Sean McDermott did a great job in his first season as coach. And I think he has done a horrible job in his second season as coach.”

“When your best offensive player is your placekicker and you seldom get into field-goal range, I believe it is not a good thing.”

“Are you trusting the process?”

“Well, at least there can’t possibly be a ticket price increase for next season, right?”

“Sorry, I’m checking out in favor of switching to the Steelers-Ravens game. I believe this game has been decided.”


The Bills have 3 TDs on offense in their last six games; opposing DEFENSES have scored 4 TDs over that span.

Minus-145 point differential is the worst in the NFL (31st Oakland -111; 30th Arizona -89).

Four straight losses by a combined 123-33 (-90).

Passing stats: 31st in yards passing per game (248.3; thank goodness for Arizona’s 233.3)...32nd in yards per pass attempt (5.5; that’s horrible; 31st Arizona is 5.9 and 1st LA Rams is 9.6)...32nd in TD passes (THREE in nine games; Kansas City has 29)...31nd in completion percentage (55.3; the Jets are 32nd at 55.0)...2nd in most INTs thrown  (16; Tampa Bay has 17)...passer rating 32nd (51.5; 31st Arizona is 67.5; 10 teams are 100.0 or better; 22 teams are 90.0 or better; 27 teams are 89.0 or better).

32nd in scoring (10.7 points per game; Arizona 31st at 13.8).

Turnover differential is minus-9 (13 takeaways and NFL-most 22 giveaways).

The Bills are trying to pass: 291 pass attempts compared to 237 running plays. Buffalo is 23rd in rushing (97.2 yards per game) but 30th in yards per rush (3.7).

29th in first downs with 137. Opponents have 175 first downs.

Third-most 70 penalties for second-most 642 yards. Opponents have 60 penalties for 529 yards.

The biggest PLUS continues to be total defense. The Bills are up 3rd again (allowing 313.7 yards per game). But Buffalo is only 26th in scoring defense, allowing 26.8 points per game. That’s because Buffalo’s offense often helps more than hurts the opposition.


If you haven’t noticed, the much-maligned Rex Ryan’s teams in his 31 games as coach of the Buffalo Bills (8-8 in 2015 and 7-8 in 2016) were consistently more competitive in their 16 losses than Sean McDermott’s teams have been in their 14 losses through his 25 games (9-7 in 20127 and 2-7 in 2018):

Ryan’s losing margins – 3...3...3....3...6...6...6...7...7...8...8...10...13...14...14...16. Total margin of defeats: 123 (average loss 7.8 points).

McDermott’s losing margins – 4...6...7...12...13...19...20...21...22...30...32...32...37...40. Total margin of defeats: 294 points (average loss 21.0 points).

Losses by 20-or-more points: Ryan 0...McDermott 8.

I’m sure margin of defeat means nothing to McDermott and GM Brandon Beane in their grand rebuilding scheme,  but closer games would make the Bills more watchable.


The highest-grossing fight in America in 2019 could be UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier versus WWE heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. Mixed-martial arts. Almost no holds barred. No script.

Cormier defended his title last Saturday night at UFC 230 via second-round submission over Derrick Lewis at Madison Square Garden. Cormier became the first UFC fighter to officially hold two titles simultaneously and successfully defend both. His record as a heavyweight is 15-0 (4-0 in the UFC).

Cormier’s next title defense is expected to be early next year against Lesnar, probably the best-known and top draw in mixed-martial arts and pro wrestling. Cormier, has said he plans to retire by his 40th birthday in March.

UFC president Dana White hopes Cormier will squeeze one other super fight into his schedule – versus Jon Jones, the Rochester native who handed Cormier the only loss of his career (by unanimous decision for the UFC light-heavyweight title in 2014; another Jones victory over Cormier, by third-round KO in UFC 214 in July 2017, was ruled a no-contest after Jones failed a drug test).

Jones, 31, coming off a 15-month suspension, is scheduled to return to the Octagon December 29 in a light-heavyweight championship fight against Alexander Gustafsson in Las Vegas. In their previous fight, Jones won a close unanimous decision, 48-47. 48-47, 47-46, in September 2013.


The Rochester Americans bounced back from a disappointing 4-2 home loss to the Hershey Bears last Friday night with an impressive 4-1 victory at Hershey Saturday night.

The Amerks, obviously much-improved over the teams that wore the best jersey in pro hockey outside the NHL (and most teams in the NHL) in recent past seasons, began this American Hockey League season with consecutive home losses to the Charlotte Checkers. At that point, we didn’t know how good the Checkers are.  They’re currently 10-1-0-0 and have outscored opponents 42-25.

Rochester is pretty good, too. Since their 0-2 start the Amerks are 8-1-1-0.

Home – 4-3-0-0 record; 24 goals for and 23 goals against

Road – 4-0-1-0 record; 21 goals for and 12 goals against.


Buffalo Sabres 35-year-old Buffalo right winger Jason Pominville was saluted Saturday for playing in his 1.000th NHL game. Then he had 2 goals in 9-2 home romp by the Sabres over the Ottawa Senators.

Pominville has had a very good NHL career with Buffalo and Minnesota: 285 goals and 425 assists for 710 points.

He began his pro career with three solid AHL seasons plus a remarkable start to a fourth season before he graduated to the NHL:

2002-03 – 73 games; 13 goals 21 assists

2003-04 – 66 games; 34 goals; 30 assists

2004-05 – 78 games; 30 goals; 38 assists

2005-06 -- 18 games; 19 goals; 7 assists.

Totals with the Amerks: 235 games; 96 goals; 96 assists; 192 points.


There will be plenty of pro soccer in Rochester this year thanks to Soccer Sam Fantauzzo.

Sam made it official on his Kick This! Radio show last Saturday morning that the indoor Rochester Lancers – inactive since 2016 due to high workman’s compensation issues –will return to Major Arena Soccer League 2 at the New Dome Arena in Henrietta. The arena will seat around 2,500 for indoor soccer. Six home games will be played on Friday and Saturday nights. The home opener will be Friday, January 4. Doug Miller will be the coach.

Sam also owns the outdoor Lancers and Lady Lancers. Both teams will play at Aquinas Institute in 2019.

The Lancers have an inviting offer for the first 1,000 prospective season-ticketholders: for $99 per person, tickets to every game for all three teams, plus free parking. Phone 872-KICK for more information.


I’m wondering if any NFL team has a better pair of kickers than Syracuse University’s Andre Szmyt and punter Sterling Hofrichter.

ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Buffalo Bills a 5.8 percent chance to get the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL college draft, a 51.3 percent chance for a top-five pick. I believe that’s selling the Bills short. I think they have better chances than that.

CBS Sports/ says Alabama in a FBS national championship game would be favored by 8 ½ points versus Clemson, 14 versus Michigan and 20 ½ versus Notre Dame.

The exciting football UBuffalo Bulls are favored by 22 points over Kent State Tuesday night (7:30 p.m., ESPNU) and 13th-rankied Syracuse is favored by 20 ½ points over visiting Louisville Friday night (7 p.m., ESPN2). Obviously, departed QB Lamar Jackson, now of the Baltimore Ravens, meant a lot to the Cardinals the past two meetings: Louisville won 62-28 in 2016 and 56-10 in 2017. Jackson passed for 681 yards and 3 TDs and ran 33 times for 310 yards and 6 TDs in those games.

Wayne Rooney will play for England against the U.S. national soccer team in a celebratory friendly match November 15 at Wembley Stadium. Rooney, 33 years old, last played for England in November 2016. He had a record 53 goals in 119 caps (appearances). He joined the Major League Soccer DC United this July and scored 12 goals in 21 games. He plans to return to DC United next season.

Legal sports books in Nevada reportedly suffered a disaster on Sunday NFL wagering. Favorites won most of the games and the betting public will wind up an estimated $7- to $10 million ahead depending on the outcomes parlay wagers in Monday night’s Tennessee versus Dallas game.


Monday, November 5

Trey Lyles 23...Odell Beckham Jr. 26...O.J. Mayo 31...Jason Kelce 31...Nick Folk 34...Bubba Watson 40...Jerry Stackhouse 44...Johnny Damon 45...Alexi Yashin 45...Todd Collins 47...Ken Sutton 49...Lou Crawford 56..Bill Walton 66.

Tuesday, November 6

Sam Reinhart 23...Andre’ Silva 23...Anna Ivanovic 31...Lamar Odom 39...Erik Kramer 54...Gerald Riggs 58...Keith Van Horne 61....Charlie Criss 70. .Emma Stone 30, Rebecca Romijn 46, Ethan Hawke 48 and Sally Field 72 are invited to the birthday party. Pat Tillman was born on this date 42 years ago and died in combat in 2004 in Afghanistan at age 27.


November 5

91 years ago (1927), Rochester’s Walter Hagen won his fourth consecutive PGA Championship...63 years ago (1955), Montreal Canadiens star Jean Beliveau scored a hat trick – three goals – in 44 seconds...61 years ago (1957), Mrs. Nellie McGrail won $574,658 on a 2 ½-cent soccer pool ticket...59 years ago (1959), the American Football League was announced, with eight teams...51 years ago (1967), the New Orleans Saints beat the Philadelphia Eagles 31-24, for their first NFL victory...47 years ago (1971), the NBA  Los Angeles Lakers began a 33-game winning streak...36 years ago (1982), the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers lost their 24th consecutive game...26 years ago (1192), Bobby Fisher beat Boris Spassky in Belgrade in the chess “Revenge Match of the 20th Century.”...24 years ago (1994), 45-year-old George Foreman KOd Michael Moorer to win the heavyweight boxing championship...22 years ago (1996), New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was the unanimous American League Rookie of the Year.

November 6

149 years ago (1869), Rutgers beat Princeton 6-4 in the first intercollegiate soccer game...63 years ago (1955), the Americans won their seventh consecutive Ryder Cup...44 years ago (1974), Mike Marshall of the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first relief pitcher to win the Cy Young Award...25 years ago (1993), Evander Holyfield beat Riddick Bowe in 12 for the heavyweight boxing crown...23 years ago (1995), Art Modell officially announced his Cleveland Browns were moving to Baltimore.

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