Only the preseason? Fitzpatrick, Bills look like it’s still the preseason in opener

The preseason doesn’t matter, right? Save it. The Buffalo Bills continued their sleepwalk into the regular season Sunday, dropping the opener for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.

Looking at the final stat lines doesn’t begin to tell the story of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s day at MetLife Stadium. For most of Sunday’s season opener against the New York Jets, Fitzpatrick was a boy lost in a man’s world.

Fans were calling for Vince Young to come back. And you know it’s bad when Mark Sanchez shows you up.

Fitzpatrick and Sanchez both threw three touchdown passes in what would be a 48-28 Jets win, but Sanchez got all three of his when it was still a game, well before Fitzpatrick could put anything together. The Bills finally got the ball moving through the air after New York went up 41-7, with Fitzpatrick’s three garbage-time touchdowns matching his three interceptions.

Saying Fitzpatrick couldn’t get comfortable in the pocket would be putting it nicely. He was terrible in the first half and merely bad in the second.

Fitzpatrick forced passes into windows he’d be lucky to hit at a family picnic, let alone with a pass rush in his face and Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in coverage. He threw to receivers that weren’t even sort-of open, missed reads and was late on his throws. Jets cornerbacks had a field day in the first half — and if they messed up, Fitzpatrick’s throws didn’t make them pay.

The defense wasn’t any better. Mario Williams, Mark Anderson and the new-and-seemingly-unimproved defensive line was invisible. The Bills didn’t have a sack and weren’t even credited with a QB hit.

The secondary got picked apart by Sanchez and a slew of largely unknown receivers. Leodis McKelvin followed Fitzpatrick’s lead of continuing last season’s struggles, getting picked on routinely. Rookie Stephon Gilmore didn’t look good, nor did sophomore Aaron Williams.

For all the time the Bills defense spent worrying about Tim Tebow and the Wildcat offense, Tebow didn’t get to throw once and wasn’t much of a factor. Then again, he didn’t have to be — Sanchez took care of the scoring.

One of the few positives of the game was C.J. Spiller’s career-high 169 yards on just 14 carries (12.1 yards per attempt), though it may have come at the cost of losing Fred Jackson for an extended period of time. We’ll know for certain how bad his knee injury is after an MRI tomorrow, but it looked pretty bad when it happened. Receiver David Nelson’s knee injury could be even worse.

Starting the regular season doesn’t mean there’s some switch the team flips to automatically start playing good football. It’s going to take more practice and more players playing like they should (Mario Williams? Williams? Bueller?). Probably the only good news ahead for the Bills is that Kansas City and Cleveland are the next two opponents on the schedule. But Fitzpatrick and Co. better figure something out soon. If they play like the did Sunday against New England and San Francisco, it’s going get a lot uglier than a 20-point loss.


NFL Week 9 picks

I can’t remember the last time the Bills were the favorite to win a divisional game. This week’s matchup with the Jets is huge in more ways than one.

There’s the statistical aspect — keeping us on top of the AFC East and sinking the Jets to 4-4 — and the more important psychological one: another shot to legitimize ourselves as contenders by beating a quality opponent in a game we should win.

The Bengals and Giants aren’t bad teams, but we should have won both games. The big boys in this league take care of business when they need to. A win today would be a statement, especially against a team that is committed to running the ball — something the Bills haven’t always shown they can stop.

I love the White Out this week; it shows the team is acknowledging the importance of this game. The Bills are a 2.5-point favorite, and I say they stay perfect at home. I can’t wait to see the look on Rex Ryan’s face.

BUFFALO (-2.5) over Jets

Atlanta (-6.5) over INDIANAPOLIS

Tampa Bay (+8) over NEW ORLEANS

HOUSTON (-10.5) over Cleveland

KANSAS CITY (-4) over Miami*

San Francisco (-4) over WASHINGTON

DALLAS (-11) over Seattle

Denver (+7) over OAKLAND

Cincinnati (+3) over TENNESSEE

St. Louis (+3) over ARIZONA

NEW ENGLAND (-9) over Giants

Green Bay (-5.5) over SAN DIEGO

PITTSBURGH (-3) over Baltimore

Chicago (+7.5) over PHILADELPHIA

Standings will be updated if the Buffalo News gets Week 9 picks on its website. I’m 58-53-4.

BILLS (-6) over Washington
Bills 23-0. Win
TENNESSEE (-8.5) over Indianapolis
Titans 27-10. Win
Jacksonville (+9 1/2) over HOUSTON
Texans 24-20. Loss
Minnesota (+3 1/2) over CAROLINA
Vikings 24-20. Win
New Orleans (-13) over ST. LOUIS
Rams 31-21. Loss
Arizona (+13) over BALTIMORE
Ravens 30-27. Win
GIANTS (-10) over Miami
Giants 20-17. Loss
Detroit (-3) over DENVER
Lions 45-10. Win
New England (-3) over PITTSBURGH
Steelers 25-17. Loss
SAN FRANCISCO (-8.5) over Cleveland
49ers 20-10. Win
Cincinnati (-3) over SEATTLE*
Bengals 34-12. Win
Dallas (+3.5) over PHILADELPHIA
Eagles 34-7. Loss
KANSAS CITY (+3.5) over San Diego
Chiefs 23-20 (OT). Win

Edwards’ waiver claim analysis and Week 4 NFL picks

After the Buffalo Bills released Trent Edwards on Monday, he was claimed by both Jacksonville and the New York Jets, and was awarded to the Jags because they currently have a worse record. Oddly enough, those teams are Buffalo’s next two opponents.

So what does this all mean for the Bills? For starters, cutting him shows how confused the team is: One week a player has a patch on his jersey signaling he’s a leader on the team, and the next week all of those jerseys are on clearance across the country because the team no longer wants him.

But what about his claims? I take that as a positive for the Bills–it shows that they at least matter to other teams and they notice us on the schedule. We’re not just a pad-your-stats week on the calendar. Teams take us seriously and are looking for any additional insight they can get before squaring off with the Bills. I know it isn’t much, but you have to start somewhere. Small victories.

Jets’ coach Rex Ryan had some interesting things to say about the prospect of signing Trent. “The obvious thing would be, we were gong to pick his brain and all that kind of stuff,” Ryan said earlier this week. “Absolutely, that’s true. But the other thing is, I think the young man can play. I think he’s a good quarterback. And we always look at every opportunity to make our team better. And we felt that he’s got a chance to be a good quarterback in this league.”

I still think Trent can be a good QB in this league, just not with the Bills. I like the guy, but he desperately needed a change of scenery and a chance to clear his head. Now he has that. I don’t see him excelling any time this year, but keep an eye on him.

I know I said a long post was coming about the Trent claims, but I’m just decided to shorten in and lead into this week’s picks with it. I need a good week to get back into contention in the weekly picks standings. I’m still new at this “spread” thing, but I’m learning. Bills are home this week against the Jets. Game is sold out, and will be televised.

Slightly different setup this week, but nothing you can’t figure out. Here we go… wish me luck.

Jets at Bills (+5)
Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick made it interesting against New England on the road, and the Bills scheme well enough to keep it close with the Jets. Revis Island is a beached whale this week; he’s sitting out again with a leg injury.

Denver (+6 1/2) at Tennessee
Titans. I like Orton and Denver, but Tennessee has the fifth-best passing defense in the league. Orton may still put up good numbers, but they’ll be a result of quantity, not quality.

Baltimore (+1) at Pittsburgh
Steelers. impeccable defense meets offense gathering steam. Will be close, but I’m playing the hot hand–and the home team.

Cincinnati at Cleveland (+3)
Bengals. Cleveland plus-3 at home is intriguing, but Cinci better be able to beat the Browns by more than a field goal.

Detroit (+14 1/2) at Green Bay
Packers. Detroit overtakes Buffalo for the dubious title of largest point allotment this season. Oddly enough (or telling enough), both games were against Green Bay. They handled the Bills at home with relative ease, and should tame the Lions as well. I’m willing to overlook last week’s showing on Monday night as a speed bump on the road to the NFC title.

Carolina (+13 1/2) at New Orleans
Panthers. I like the Saints big in this one, but I have a hard time picking against a line this big. Would be a great day for DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to break out, too.

San Francisco (+7) at Atlanta
Falcons. They took care of were handed a win against the Saints, but played well in the game long before Garrett Hartley shanked a field goal I’ve put through many times before. I am not counting out Mike Singletary’s 49ers yet, but they are in too much disarray to pick them against Atlanta on the road.

Seattle at St. Louis (+1)
Rams. Oh, hey Sam Bradford. Nice of you to show up to the party. Seattle is sitting pretty in the NFC West at 2-1, but both of their wins came at home. They got passed San Diego on two long Leon Washington returns, but lightning won’t strike twice.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville (+7 1/2) Best bet
Colts. Calling Monday’s headline right now: NEWLY ACQUIRED BACKUP QB EDWARDS THROWS 5 TDS IN RELIEF TO STUN COLTS. Or not. Indi’s on a roll, Jacksonville sucks. Colts big.

Houston at Oakland (+3)
Texans. I might think Houston would be up for a letdown after last week’s big game against Dallas… except they’re playing the Raiders. Andre Johnson is questionable, but it really shouldn’t matter. Oakland is just that bad.

Arizona (+8) at San Diego
Cardinals. This is where I’d like to think I’m learning something about lines. I know Arizona hardly got past Oakland last week at home, but when it comes down to being given points or playing at home, this season it has been the teams getting points who win. Here goes nothing.

Washington (+6) at Philadelphia
Eagles. Phily looked good last week, Washington didn’t. If I go with the formula above, I should pick the ‘Skins, but if I go with my gut I take the Eagles. If you don’t have your gut, you don’t have anything.

Chicago (+4) at Giants
Bears. How bad did the Giants look last week? The term “G-men” may take on a different meaning in the near future if they continue on this pace. Eli’s confidence still looks hurt after big brother Peyton kicked his butt. I know Chicago’s play last week was artificially elevated due to Monday Night Football (and the Packers having more penalties than points), but I’ll take them here.

New England at Miami (+1)
Fish. See above. Miami will be ready to play come Monday night. Tom Brady had a good record on Monday nights, but his career record is good too, so it’s hard to say if he actually plays better on MNF. Last time these two met in the week’s late game? Dec. 20, 2004–The 2-11 Dolphins overcame a late deficit to beat the 12-1 Patriots, 29-28 at Pro Player Stadium.

Bye weeks: Dallas, Minnesota, Kansas City, Tampa Bay

Overall standings: Down but not out
Sullivan: 28-16-3
DiCesare: 25-19-3
McKissic: 23-21-3
Wilson: 21-23-3
Northrop: 21-23-3
Gaughan: 18-26-3
It’s Always Game Seven 15-29-3

Best bets*
Northrop: 3-0
It’s Always Game Seven 2-0-1
Gaughan: 2-1
Sullivan: 2-1
McKissic: 2-1
Wilson: 1-2
DiCesare: 1-2