Are Bills doomed to miss the playoffs yet again?
With the second half of the NFL season in full swing, some teams are starting to separate from the pack while others fall behind. Yet with so many games remaining, drawing conclusions about the postseason picture at this point can be a fool’s errand.
Here are overreactions from Week 10 that we’re pushing back on.
The Bills are no longer playoff contenders after dropping two in a row
As bad as the defeats have been — and it doesn’t get much worse than the 47-10 thrashing the Saints put on Buffalo — the Bills (5-4) are still holding down the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.
The book on Buffalo is pretty straightforward. The Bills stay competitive by winning the turnover battle, running effectively and stopping opponents’ rushing game.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor can effectively manage a game, but only if that threat of a consistent rushing attack is there. Without it, Taylor is susceptible to the kind of dud performance (9for-18, 56 yards, one interception) that he posted against New Orleans.
Buffalo still leads the NFL in turnover differential at +11. In victories, the number is +12. In losses, it’s -1.
The Bills have taken significant steps in what initially appeared to be a long rebuild. But they’ve also proved they’re not talented enough to grind out games if their formula falls apart.
The saving grace is a top-heavy AFC. Despite its shortcomings, Buffalo still has a path to sneak in as a wild card and end a 17-year playoff drought.
The 49ers won, so Jimmy Garoppolo should continue to sit
Rookie coach Kyle Shanahan claimed his first victory with San Francisco in a 31-21 win against a reeling Giants team.
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard turned in his best performance of the season, accounting for three total touchdowns and completing 19 of 25 passes for 288 yards. He had completions of 83 and 47 yards, both of which went for scores.
So does that mean the Niners can keep Jimmy Garoppolo on the shelf? Not quite.
San Francisco traded for Garoppolo on Oct. 30, and he has served as Beathard’s backup the last two games. With the 49ers set to enter their bye in Week 11, this is the perfect opportunity for the former Patriots backup to immerse himself in the playbook, absorb the language and concepts Shanahan wants to run and emerge in Week 12 as the team’s starter against the Seahawks.
The 49ers have said they would like Garoppolo to eventually become their franchise quarterback. The second half of the season offers the perfect chance to see if that’s feasible.
Holding the No. 1 seed, the Steelers are the top team in the AFC
Pittsburgh has a bad habit of playing down to its level of competition at times, and that tendency resurfaced against the Colts.
The Steelers needed a last-second field goal from Chris Boswell to notch a 20-17 win. Indianapolis is a team in shambles, and Pittsburgh has far superior talent on its roster.
And this was a Steelers team coming off its bye.
The chief concern is an offense that has underwhelmed after entering the year as one of the league’s most touted units. Pittsburgh (7-2) has yet to crack 30 points in a game. Against the Colts, the Steelers gained a season-low 92 yards in the first half and faced a 10-3 deficit.
A team that boasts Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell shouldn’t rank 18th in scoring (20.8 points per game). Turnovers have been one of the primary problems, as Pittsburgh has given the ball away 13 times.
The Steelers schedule sets up favorably, with the exception of their Week 15 showdown against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Even though it currently sits behind Pittsburgh because of tiebreakers, New England looks far more balanced and far more dangerous.
The Steelers offense, with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, has underwhelmed after entering the year as one of the league’s most touted units.