There's absolutely nothing at stake for Sunday's game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets other than the losing team perhaps improving its first-round draft status. The Bills will go into it without their head coach, defensive coordinator and starting quarterback.
I fully expected Buffalo to fire Rex Ryan as he was given a playoffs-or-else ultimatum before the season, but the NFL's longest postseason drought will continue at 17 seasons. All Buffalo (7-8) can hope for now is to finish with a .500 record. I just though the Bills would wait until Black Monday.
The team was officially eliminated from the postseason in Week 16's 34-31 home overtime loss to Miami. The Bills had only 10 men on the field on the long run by Jay Ajayi which led to the Dolphins' winning field goal. And Ryan decided to punt in overtime with just over four minutes left and the Bills on their own 41-yard line. He posted a 15-16 record in 31 games with Buffalo. The Bills have had seven different full-time head coaches -- of which none have lasted four full seasons -- since Marv Levy left the team after the 1997 season.
Ryan's brother Rob, the defensive coordinator, also got the boot. Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will serve as interim coach and he's turning to EJ Manuel over starting QB Tyrod Taylor. This is surely so Taylor doesn't get hurt as the nearly $30 million he is due next season becomes guaranteed if he were injured. The Bills are expected to move on from him this offseason. A week after the Titans lost Marcus Mariota and the Raiders lost Derek Carr, the Bills are not planning to take any chances with Taylor. GM Doug Whaley also wants to see what Manuel can do. The Bills also have rookie Cardale Jones on the roster, who hasn't seen the field yet as a pro.
Lynn is expected to be a candidate for the full-time job, and former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin also has been rumored as a possible successor to Ryan for a while even though he's 70.
The Bills are still favorites for this game, as high as -6 on NFL odds and as low as -3.5. I'm not sure this news will shift the NFL picks too much because the Jets are a sorry bunch. With QB Bryce Petty landing on season-ending IR, Ryan Fitzpatrick will make his final start in a Jets uniform. This also should be the final game in which Todd Bowles is the Jets' coach.