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Buffalo is not the wisest franchise
The Bills have enjoyed a winning season just once since the turn of the century. Ownership requested the Bills give away the one true home advantage they have -playing in cold weather- and trading it for three September home games this season.
The rationale makes sense if you expect to be habitually horrible and figure you want to draw local fans early when enthusiasm is still available, compared to later in the year when Buffalo blows and the weather is cold. How should this affect our NFL picks?
Despite being outgained, the Bills took a 21-17 lead into the fourth quarter, but offensive miscues, penalties (10 in all) and a tired defense helped Buffalo succumb to New England yet again.
Rumors of the Bills players not wearing shoes this week have been found to be untrue, in spite of shooting themselves in the foot so often in the opener.
Carolina ultra conservative in opener
Maybe Carolina was certain Seattle would bring a vast amount of pressure like last year’s contest when Cam Newton was sacked four times and under duress far more often. Nobody in the NFL likes to use the word "afraid", so let’s just say Panthers offensive coaches were ‘concerned’ about the Seahawks defense and only had Cam Newton throw the ball down the field more than 10 yards three times for the entire game.
The Carolina defense did manage to put pressure on Russell Wilson, but the elusive signal caller continually found ways to escape and completed 25 of his 33 passes for a career-best 320 yards.
The visiting Panthers were released as 2.5-point road favorites and swiftly were elevated to -3 in the NFL odds. The beginning total of 45 fell to 44.5. This is just the sixth-ever meeting with Buffalo holding a 4-1 edge with three covers.
What to Watch For
Carolina knows they cannot be as conservative in this contest if they hope to win. The Panthers have an above average offensive line and need to lean on the Bills to free up running back DeAngelo Williams. Newton will take more shots down the field and must have tight end Greg Olson show better hands after a pair of costly drops last week.
The Panthers defense will have to deal with another mobile pass chucker in rookie EJ Manuel, who is not quite the moving target Wilson is. In college, Manuel was not terrific when it came to protecting the ball when on out of the pocket. Look for Carolina to use a similar game plan to New England to bracket C.J. Spiller and prevent him from getting to the edges where his speed is explosive.
Buffalo gave it their all against the Patriots and no Bills fan can say the effort was not present, just the lack of execution, which tested the patience of coach Doug Marrone and everyone else. Manuel was effective as a passer and needs time to learn to work more cohesively with his receivers. It will be imperative Buffalo has more ways to free up Spiller, whether it is running or throwing the ball to him. In either case, the Bills offense is more lethal when he’s in the mix.
The Buffalo defensive front will have to be ready for the onslaught because Carolina prefers to ground and pound and pick their spots throwing down the gridiron. If the Panthers start generating consistent yards on the ground, they will be at the mercy of what Carolina wants to do on offense.
Buffalo used a great deal of emotion in the lid-lifter against New England and they are 1-7 ATS after playing the Pats. I see that trend continuing, so consider Carolina for your sports picks.
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