Matthews: How Low Can The Bills Offense Go?

HOW LOW CAN THE BILLS’ OFFENSE GO?...

LATEST COOPERSTOWN NOMINEES COULD GO 0-FOR-10

“BEST BET:” CHIEFS TO CRUSH ARIZONA

The offense of the Buffalo Bills has become a punching bag. The unit is taking shots from media critics in western New York and coast-to-coast.

One national radio guy early this week compared the Bills to a college team – not Alabama – but RUTGERS! He was not mocking Buffalo’s defense.

Here are some of the most popular ugly factoids regarding Buffalo’s offense through nine games:

The Bills were held to 97 yards on 28 carries by Chicago in the 41-9 home loss last Sunday, and 24 of those yards were on a scramble by quarterback Nathan Peterman on the final play of the first half when the Bears were daring him to run and he should’ve thrown a Hail Mary into the end zone. It would’ve been a miraculous TV completion. Running for a TD was even more improbable.

Buffalo’s three running backs had 18 carries for 52 yards. LeSean McCoy has 24 net yards on his last 24 carries. He hasn’t suddenly lost it. He hasn’t had many holes to run through.

McCoy needs 77 yards from scrimmage to reach 14,000 for his career. Since entering the NLF in 2009, McCoy leads the league in yards from scrimmage. The way things are going this season, 78 yards from scrimmage Sunday at the Jets sounds like a tall order.

With seven games remaining, the Bills have been held to single-digit points in five games this season – 0, 3, 5, 6 and 9.

Buffalo is averaging an NFL-low 10.7 points per game. The 96 points is a franchise low through nine games.

The Bills are last in the NFL in point differential: minus-145. They’re on pace to be outscored by 258 points. Buffalo’s back-to-back 2-14 teams were outscored by 204 points in 1984 and by 181 points in 1985.

Buffalo has eight touchdowns – including three TD passes – through nine games. In the last four games, the Bills offense has scored three TDs and has handed opposing defenses four TDs.

Buffalo’s offense has managed to score 3 touchdowns in the last 77 possessions.

Buffalo hasn’t had a 100-yard receiver in the last 19 games or a 300-yard passer in the last 29 games.  Unemployed wide receiver Dez Bryant had 64 catches for 838 yards with Dallas last season. The eight wide receivers Buffalo has used this season have COMBINED for 72 catches for 830 yards.

The Bills have been outscored 141-9 in the first half of their seven losses.

Buffalo’s passing has been particularly inept. The Bills rank 32nd (and last) in yards passing per game (151.1), yards per pass attempt (5.5; No. 1 LA Rams are 9.6), TD passes (3) and passer rating (51.5; No.2 Arizona is 67.5). The Bills rank 31st in completion percentage (55.3) and times sacked (33).

Buffalo’s best offensive weapon is kicker Stephen Hauschka and he doesn’t get nearly enough opportunities to kick field goals, let alone extra points.

The bottom line: The Bills are 2-7 with 7 games left this season and I believe winning 2 more games with this offense would be a decent feat. One encouraging note is that fans of the Bills probably never again will have to endure an offense this bad

Coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane deserve some blame for the quarterback mess that has plagued and doomed the Bills all season. But this team has major problems running, catching and blocking, too.

THIS GROUP OF COOPERSTOWN NOMINEES COULD GO 0-FOR-10

The 10 nominees for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Today’s Game Era” committee to consider were announced Monday.

The seven former players, three managers and one executive (George Steinbrenner) who were prominent from 1988 and beyond must appear on the ballots of 12 of the 16 committee members during baseball’s winter meetings next month in Las Vegas in order to be inducted into Cooperstown July 21.

The 10 nominees all were bypassed in previous elections by the Baseball Writers Association of America. They might all come up short again. The flaws and question marks that kept them out before might keep them out forever.

The knocks:

Harold Baines – He compiled big volume numbers (2,816 hits; 384 HRs; 1,628 RBI) because he played a long time – 22 years – and too many of them were as a designated hitter. There was and still is a DH bias.

Albert Belle – Had six excellent seasons before a degenerative hip condition ended his career at age 33. A poor outfielder and a surly attitude on and off the field turned off teammates, opponents, media and fans.

Will Clark – A very fine hitter, but not a great one, for about 10 years. A classic left-handed swing. Won one Gold Glove but was not really an exceptional defensive first baseman. Lacked awesome power.

Joe Carter – He’d get my vote but critics say he wasn’t as good as his numbers suggest: 396 HRs, ten 100-RBI seasons. And a walk-off HR to win a World Series for Toronto. But he was not a good defensive outfielder,  had a modest .259 career batting average and played for six teams.

Orel Hershiser – 204-150 record, 3.48 ERA. Very good but not great. Excellent pitcher until a torn rotator cuff reduced his effectiveness for manypost-prime seasons.

Lee Smith – He was the all-time leader in saves before Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera came along. He didn’t come close to being elected before.

Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel and Lou Piniella – The three managers don’t measure up to the skippers already in Cooperstown. I’d give Johnson and Piniella extra credit for being very good players but voters are instructed to consider only their work as managers.

George Steinbrenner, who owned the Yankees from 1973 until he died in 2010, was colorful, successful and controversial. He was suspended twice and often infuriated his players and managers. I wonder if at least 12 of the 16 voters will cut him some slack.

IMPRESSED BY SYRACUSE’S “D”...AND THEN WE SAW DUKE

Coach Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse U. basketball team was impressive on defense in Tuesday night’s season-opening 66-34 home romp over Eastern Washington.

SU will be tall, active and deep offensively all season long. Home and away. Defense travels well.

The Orange shot poorly Tuesday night – 24-of-62 (.387 field-goal percentage), 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from 3-point range and 15-of-28 free throws (53.6 percent). Merely an off night at an opportune time against an overmatched opponent. The shooting definitely will pick up.

And then Duke crushed Kentucky 118-84 in Indianapolis. Coach K’s one-and-doners dominated John Calipari’s mostly one-and-doners. Zion Williamson looked even better than advertised.  He belongs in the NBA right now and he’d likely make this season’s All-Star Game.

Dates to circle: Syracuse at Duke January 14; Duke at Syracuse February 23.

BOB’S “BEST BET”: CHIEFS TO CRUSH ARIZONA

The Kansas City Chiefs have scored 38, 30, 45 and 30 points in four home wins this season. So what chance does Arizona have – arguably the worst team in the NFL? Worse than the Bills!

The Chiefs are favored by 17 points and should win by more going away Sunday as this week’s “Best Bet: KANSAS CITY 45, Arizona 17.

Thursday night’s game

(home team in CAPS)

Carolina 30, PITTSBURGH (-3 ½) 27 – I’m trustingPatners QB Cam Newton and RB Christian McCaffrey to spark an upset.

Sunday’s other games

NEW YORK JETS (-7) 14, Buffalo 10 – I don’t think the Bills are very good but I don’t think the Jets are a touchdown better.

Atlanta 35, CLEVELAND (+4) 20 – The Falcons appear to have turned things around after a 1-4 start and the Browns have lost four straight since a surprising 2-2-1 start.

New Orleans 38, CINCINNATI (+4 ½) 27 – The Saints are 4-0 on the road and the Bengals can’t match them in firepower.

New England 28, TENNESSEE (6 ½) 17 -- The Patriots are consistently good since their 2-2 start and the inconsistent Titans are due to wilt after a big 28-14 win in Dallas.

Jacksonville 24, INDIANAPOLIS (-3) 20 – The Jaguars have lost four straight games but due for a top effort.

CHICAGO (6 1/2) 28, Detroit 17 – Two tough teams to gauge. Chicago’s defense gets my vote.

Washington 35, TAMPA BAY (-3) 30 – I trust Washington’s offense a little bit better than Tampa Bay’s defense.

Los Angeles Chargers 33, OAKLAND (+10) 20 – The Raiders can’t be as lousy as they looked in their 34-34 loss at San Francisco but they’re no match for the Chargers.

GREEN BAY (-9 ½) 24, Miami 21 – The Packers should win but they’re not good enough to spot a halfway-decent opponent this many points. Maybe I’m being too kind to the Dolphins.

LOS ANGELES RAMS (-9 ½) 30, Seattle 17 – This is a lot of points to spot the Seahawks but the Rams figure to be primed for a top effort coming off their first loss of the season.

PHILADELPHIA (-7) 27, Dallas 17 – The Eagles usually play great defense at home and the Cowboys are too one-dimensional with running back Ezekiel Elliott. Have you noticed that Dallas owner Jerry Jones is a stubborn lousy general manager?

Monday night’s game

New York Giants 23, SAN FRANCISCO (-3) 17 – Could this be Eli Manning’s final start for the Giants? Not if they win. If he can’t outduel 49ers QB Nick Mullens, even Eli must realize it is time to go?

SHORT SHOTS

My NFL Mid-Season Most Valuable Players: 1-LA RB Todd Gurley...2-Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes...3-New Orleans QB Drew Brees. NFL Least Valuable Player: Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell.

Only two NFL teams enter Week 10 ranked in the top 10 in both total offense and total defense: (surprise) Chicago Bears 5th and 4th; Los Angeles Rams 3rd and 10th.

Free-agent slugger Bryce Harper and agent Scott Boras reportedly rejected a $300-million offer from Washington before he became a free agent. He figures to sign somewhere for more than that but I don’t think he’s worth it. I’d to wait for Mike Trout.

There is something to be said for loyalty, but I think the Yankees could’ve spent $8 million for a 2019 No. 5 starting pitcher more wisely than on CC Sabathia.

The Name Game: After a 17-year absence from minor-league baseball, Fayetteville, N.N., will be joining the Single-A Carolina League Carolina League in 2019 at a new stadium. The fans picked the name Woodpeckers (over the four other finalists: Fatbacks, Fly Traps, Jumpers and Wood Dogs). Fayetteville is the home of Fort Bragg, the world’s largest military installation.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, November 7

Taco Charlton 22...Coy Wire 450...John Grant Jr. 44...Kris Benson 44....Calvin Borel 52...Wallace Francis 67...Jim Kaat 80...Al Attles 82. Lorde 22, Algee Smith 24 and Joni Mitchell 75 are invited to the birthday party. Billy Graham was born on this date 100 years ago and died this year at age 99. Leon Trotsky, Russian Marxist revolutionary, was born on this dare 139 years ago and died in 1940 at age 60.

Thursday, November 8

Giancarlo Stanton 29...Jeremy Kerley 30...Sam Bradford 31...Jonathan Gibson 31...Nick Punto 41...Qadry Ismail 48...Jose Offerman 50...Jimmie Giles 64...John Denny 66...Jerry Remy 66...Angel Cordero Jr. 76..Bobby Bowden 89. Mary Hart 67 is invited to the birthday party.

Friday, November 9

Kyle Rodolph 29...Adam Dunn 39...David Duval 47...Chris Jericho 48...Bill Guerin 48...Roy Jefferson 75...Tom Weiskopf 76...Bob Gibson 87...Whitey Herzog 87.

Saturday, November 10

Teddy Bridgewater 26..Zach Ertz 28...Kendrick Perkins 34....Chris Canty 36...Ryback 37...Isaac Bruce 46...Kenny Rogers 54...ESPN Linda Cohn 59...Jack Clark 63...Gerry DiNardo 66.

Sunday, November 11

Victor Cruz 32...Mark Sanchez 32...Matt Garza 35...Jason Grilli 42...Fuzzy Zoeller 67...Otis Armstrong 68...LPGA Kathy Postlewait 69...Leonardo DiCaprio 43. Demi Moore 56 and Carlista Flockhart 54 and invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

November 7

85 years ago (1933), Pennsylvania voters overturned the blue law and sports on Sundays became permitted...75 years ago (1943), the Detroit Lions and New York Giants played the most recent 0-0 tie in the NFL...64 years ago (1954), the Cleveland Browns beat the Washington Redskins 62-3...59 years ago (1959), Sam Snead led the United States to an 8 ½ to 3 ½ victory in the Ryder Cup...27 years ago (1991), Magic Johnson announced he had HIV virus and retired from the NBA.

November 8

67 years ago (1951), Yankees catcher Yogi Berra won his first of three American League MVP awards...57 years ago (1961), Whitey Ford won the Cy Young Award over Warren Spahn...28 years ago (1990), Darryl Strawberry signed a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers...27 years ago (1991), Paul Coffey set an NHL record for defensemen with his 311th goal.

November 9

65 years ago (1953), the Supreme Court ruled Major League Baseball exempt from anti-trust laws...57 years ago (1961), the PGA eliminated the caucasians-only rule...53 years ago (1965), Willie Mays was named National League Most Valuable Player...22 years ago (1996), Evander Holyfield upset Mike Tyson via 11th-round KO for the heavyweight boxing title...3 years ago (2015), the World Anti-Doping agency recommended the Russian Federation be banned from athletics for running a “state-supported” doping program.

Bob Matthews' Column

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