Are Bills doomed to miss the play­offs yet again?

USA TODAY International Edition - - SPORTS - Lorenzo Reyes

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.

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