Bills fans will have to excuse us our enthusiasm over a 5-6-1 record. Yes, it's only a few percentage points better than Buffalo's 5-7 mark, but for us it represents a staggering infusion of hope and optimism. These five wins carry with them the official stamp of Progress, and allow fans to chuck each other on the shoulder and say We're Heading In The Right Direction, and How About That Jeff Fisher.
For Buffalo, carrying five wins into December is just a sad same-old same-old, a stagnant cloud that stands between the Bills fan and any vision of playoff contention in the near future. The Bills have had exactly six or seven wins in six of the last seven seasons, a sluggish sameness that belies multiple changes at head coach, quarterback, and running back. Or perhaps we should step back and let Joe Pinzone of BuffaloWins.com tell it:
It is just painfully boring. It is a world without color. A world where we get up and put on a suit. Walk to work. Stare at a computer screen. Bring a Ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. Get yelled at by our boss. Clock out. Walk home in the rain without an umbrella. And during this entire day, we have a look of detachment. I picture what Neo's life was like before he was unplugged from The Matrix.
Does this fan malaise make the Bills a less-dangerous team for the Rams? No. Does it make a December trip to the frigid great lakes any less formidable? Certainly not. Despite a certain fatigue, Joe was able to give us some clear-eyed insights to his team, and provide a nice scouting report for Rams fans.
RamsHerd: Buffalo has spent big money on a trio of players, former Ram Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson and Mario Williams, but the team is still hovering around mediocrity. Are you not getting return on those contracts, or do you blame the talent level on the rest of the team?
BuffaloWins: Definitely not on the Fitzpatrick deal. During a 21 game span before signing his extension, Fitzpatrick had 40 touchdowns, 4,984 yards passing, and 22 interceptions. Since he became a member of the 1%, the Bills are 7-15 and he's thrown 28 interceptions.
As for Mario Williams, I don't think anyone will ever be worth 100 million bucks, but, Mario has been on as of late. He had battled a mysterious wrist injury that the Bills were kind of hush-hush about during the first 9 weeks of the year. He got a procedure done at the bye week and since then he's been a terror. He has six sacks in his last five games. As for Stevie, his numbers have been all right, but his QB is his major problem.
Bills have three games with zero offensive touchdowns and five with 4+ off. touchdowns this season. Amazing.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) December 4, 2012
RamsHerd: That last stat from Mike Clay is amazing. What is the reason for this extreme Jeckyll-and-Hyde personality from the offense, and which one do you expect to show up vs the Rams?
BuffaloWins: Opponents. When the Bills played the 49ers, Texans and Cards — all teams with a top 10 defense — the Bills scored only two offensive touchdowns. When they went against bottom of the barrel defenses like the Jags, Titans and Patriots (twice), they scored 16 TDs.
Bottom line: The Bills play well against crappy defenses. (Related: the Bills' five wins have come against teams with a combined .283 winning percentage.)
RamsHerd: CJ Spiller was pretty much awful in his rookie year, but now he seems to make a highlight-reel run every game. What changed for him, and which back between he and Fred Jackson do you expect to carry the load on Sunday?
BuffaloWins: You got that right about Spiller. A number of people were calling him a bust after 1.5 seasons. He just danced around too much behind the line of scrimmage and just took too long to find a hole. When Fred went down last year, they had to throw Spiller in and the rest is pretty much history.
He can take it to the house on any given play. He knows how to find holes now and if you get him in the open field, look out. The problem happens to be that Gailey doesn't run the ball enough, unless he's in a monsoon like last week. Spiller is averaging over 6 yards a carry, yet, he only averages about 11 carries per game this year. That's on Gailey.
RamsHerd: Outside of Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson, Spiller and Jackson, I doubt many Rams fans could identify another player on the Bills offense. Who should we be looking out for?
Look out for Scott Chandler. A lot more fans are higher on him than I, but he's Fitz's favorite target in the redzone. He only has 32 catches this year, but six of those have been for touchdowns. There was also a stat going around for a while that all of his catches lead to either a first down or a touchdown.
Note: In fact, according to his stats page on CBSSports.com, Chandler is somehow credited with 27 first downs and 6 TDs on his 32 catches.
Also, look for TJ Graham. He's starting and he's suppose to be our deep threat. Problem is Ryan Fitzpatrick can't throw deep.
RamsHerd: How warm is the hot seat under Chan Gailey? Do you expect a coaching change this offseason, or will they continue to build the team under his watch?
BuffaloWins: It is really up in the air at this point. The Bills have never been an organization to have a short leash on coaches when they fail..constantly. Dick Jauron was the last coach and he survived three straight years of 7-9 seasons to go along with a fan base that wanted his head on a platter.
If the Bills lose out, I can't see how they'd let him come back. To this point, he's 15-29 as as a head coach. However, if they finish 7-9 or 8-8 -which is very possible because they have an easy schedule — I think he comes back.
Should he come back? No. He is too arrogant as a coach and believes in passing to much when he doesn't have a QB for it. Hardheaded. As for Gailey's shortcomings: He loves to pass too much. He has a running back that is averaging 6.5 yac but only 11 carries per game. He doesn't know when to be aggressive or passive. He just isn't a good game day coach. He's a retread who has been fired from 3 of his last 4 jobs.
Our thanks to Joe for his time. You can read my responses to his questions, and more Bills-Rams coverage, at BuffaloWins.com. And as always, you can (and should) follow Joe for gameday chatter on Twitter.