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Buffalo Bills 2012 Schedule: Games That Should’ve Went Primetime

By Joshua Bauer (Football Nation):
Bills fans, did you ever wonder when your team turned into the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL? Point at the four consecutive Super Bowl losses, or point at the 12-year playoff drought, but when the schedules are released annually, Buffalo just seems to get no respect. Sure, the 2012 Bills may have made some noise this offseason, may be whispered as sleeper picks for the playoffs, may be building something special under GM Buddy Nix, but does that translate into any kind of love from the NFL? 
Apparently not, as Buffalo’s sole primetime game in 2012 is against an underwhelming Miami Dolphins team on November 15. Oh yeah, and it’s on a Thursday night… On the NFL Network… See, Buffalo doesn’t even warrant network or even mass cable attention, being thrown a bone by appearing on a channel that requires package upgrades in most areas. No Monday night, not even a Sunday night, and against Miami, who is perhaps the worst team (on paper) in the AFC East for 2012 (unless they have one heck of a Draft, that is). Looking over the Bills’ schedule for this season, there are at least three games that warrant some primetime love, that would be fantastic to find on NBC or ESPN, and that are far more deserving than some other choices. Look, the Steelers and Broncos each have five total primetime games in 2012, but what if Pittsburgh isn’t good this year, or Manning gets injured Week 2? The Panthers get two games, the Seahawks as well, and even Arizona gets a Monday night game. I mean, why won’t the NFL give Buffalo some attention? Even the Jaguars got two Monday night games last year, and they weren’t even able to sell out games for the last couple seasons.
So, with my ire over this firmly stated, here are some games on the Bills’ 2012 schedule that would have been perfect to show on a Sunday or Monday night, games that hold more drama than most of the matchups projected now (Oooo… Eagles and Saints… I’m so excited… Bears at Cowboys… will this be Romo’s fiftieth final chance to prove himself?).
Week 1, Sept 9: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
Come on people, this one should have at least rated as one of the two games on the opening Monday doubleheader. Instead of getting to see the brand-spankin’ new Bills’ pass rush against the soap opera that has become the Jets, we’ll get to see the Bengals at the Ravens, followed by San Diego at Oakland. Granted, those are some fine divisional matchups, with proper storylines of their own (the Chargers’ rebuilt receiver squad, Oakland up and coming again after a late run last season… and the Bengals and Ravens are two teams with heavy expectations after success in 2011), but tell me they trump Buffalo’s offseason dedication to improvement or New York’s ability to implode in Week 1. This would have been a true judge of where these two teams were at in a rivalry that reignited last season in two big Buffalo losses. Actually, it was the second game that was by far the more biting defeat, as Buffalo was in a position to shake off a three-game losing skid in the final moments at New York November 27th, but saw two consecutive passes to Steve Johnson get dropped, both possible scoring throws.
It was a metaphor for the whole season, heck the whole history of the Buffalo Bills, with defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory just when it looked like there was going to be break in the clouds. Tebow, Sanchez, and Rex hosting Fitz, Johnson, and Fred Jackson on an opening Monday night this year would have been something to see, would have been a treat not just for New York fans across the state (…and in New Jersey), but for football fans around the nation. Instead, they’ll play one o’clock on CBS, lost to all but those within the viewing area of one of those teams, or to those with the NFL package. Tragic, as it looks to be a great statement game for both teams in 2012, but will be relegated to some highlights outside of the Empire State.
Week 4, Sept 30: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
This was THE game of the 2011 season for Buffalo, the breaking of a nine-year losing streak to a team that has just dominated the AFC East and most of the NFL for over a decade. After digging a 21-point hole last year, Buffalo charged back before the home crowd and came away with a 34-31 victory built on 4 Brady INTs, a heroic Fitzpatrick-led rally late, and a Rian Lindell field goal to end the game. However, 2011 ended with Buffalo losing 21-49 in a thoroughly embarrassing thrashing to those same Patriots, showing none of the fire or spirit they had earlier in the year. This year’s first game in Buffalo should be an electric environment, with a Buffalo pass rush that looks to be eyeing up Brady like an all-you-can-eat buffet and an offense that looks to consistently score like they did the first five weeks of last season (when they were averaging 32.8 per game and leading the NFL in points).
Also, Buffalo has had more primetime games against the Patriots than any other team in the last decade, so it would have been a suitable choice here. It’s another turning point game in the 2012 Buffalo season, for if they win Week 1 at the Jets, the following two games (home against the Chiefs, at the Browns) could yield a 3-0 Buffalo team welcoming in Brady and New England. If Buffalo is truly looking to not just make the playoffs in 2012, but also succeed, the Patriots can’t be their Achilles Heel as they have allowed in past years and this game would have given the Bills a chance to show that to the nation. Instead, you’ll get to see Bears vs Cowboys, two teams that too often yield boring games in a matchup devoid of serious rivalry attachments. Hooray.
Week 9, Nov 4: Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
Still before the NBC flex schedule would allow a switch, the scheduled Sunday night game this week is Dallas at Atlanta (have I mentioned the Cowboys have 3 Sunday night games… Guess Jerry Jones has a stake in NBC). Too bad, they could have had the Mario Bowl, as superstar free agent Mario Williams comes back to Houston in a Buffalo uniform less than a year later. For the storylines alone, this one would be worth the primetime slot, as both these teams could be looking to make statement games as the downhill charge to the playoffs begins in the second half of the year. The game comes right after the Buffalo bye, which last year was a game against Washington that saw the Buffalo pass rush play better than in every other game in 2011 combined (they had 10 of their 29 sacks in that game). Sure, that might not be the case in 2012, but you’ve got to think that Super Mario will want to make sure that pass rush is fired up coming into his former house, will want to show Houston that they made a mistake in letting him go, and will want to prove to Buffalo that he was worth the price tag they paid for his services. Put this on a Sunday night game on NBC and you’d have given the nation a match up that showcases two young teams looking to show the league they’re contenders, but you’ll instead get two aging teams without any drama between them, without any storylines to share. Bummer.
You see, with the Monday doubleheader to open (but no game Week 17), there are a total of 34 games being played on NBC or ESPN, meaning there are 68 spots for teams to fill on those nights. That means each of the 32 teams should get two Sunday/Monday night games at least, right? I mean, the NFL values all their teams equally, right? Sadly, no. Apart from the bone thrown by the NFL Network, Buffalo will be languishing in local viewership this year without any real exposure nationwide. It’ll especially hurt in those cold, last five weeks, when the Bills find themselves with three home games (
plus a “home” game in Toronto) during a time of the year when they historically don’t sell out (blackouts in Western New York are typical in December). When the weather gets frightful in December, Buffalo usually hasn’t been in contention enough to warrant fans giving up the warmth of their homes for the chill of the bleachers. No home game in the last month of 2011 sold out and only about 2/3 of December games in the last decade have. You think the NFL could have thrown a primetime game in the mix to give the Bills a little push?
Granted, the Bills’ schedule late is full of some pretty light competition, with the Jaguars and Rams coming to town, but the final game of the season could be one the biggest. In facing the Jets on December 30th, ending the season against the same team Buffalo begins against in 2012, there may very well be playoff implications on the line. Face it, with the AFC East drawing the soft NFC West (49ers aside) and inconsistent AFC South on this year’s schedule there could be three teams in the Bills’ division looking at the playoffs, and both they and the Jets could be 10-5 teams looking to get in with their last game. Maybe Sanchez goes down and Tebow finds he has a little more magic left in the tank, or the Bills trip midseason but make a late push in the easier, end part of their schedule.
Either way, with the last Sunday night game still TBA, here’s hoping Buffalo and New York are both in contention to end the season and can finagle their way into that last primetime spot of the year. Maybe it’s ridiculous to hope that Buffalo could be a playoff contender again, but if they are as good as they are starting to seem for 2012 I’d love to know that people outside of Western New York were aware of it as well.
Truth be told, it’d just be nice to just once hear someone talk about the Buffalo Bills for something other than a wide right kick, 4 Super Bowl losses, or a Music City Miracle.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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