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Lack of Prep Time Puts Bills Behind 8-Ball Headed into Must-Win Week 12 Game

Published by Bleacher Report on Sat, 22 Nov 2014

The Buffalo Bills just can't buy a break right now.After dropping a Thursday night affair to the Miami Dolphins in distressingly listless fashion to kick off Week 11, the Bills were supposed to have a "mini-bye" to lick their wounds and prepare for an absolute must-win game at home against the Jets Sunday.Except now the game won't be played on Sunday at all.Or in Buffalo.And the Bills have had next to no time to prepare, creating a perfect storm that could leave any hopes Buffalo had of ending its 14-year postseason drought in ruins.As a consequence of the winter storm that dumped record amounts of snow on the Buffalo area this week, the team's AFC showdown with New York has been moved to Monday at 7 p.m. ET at Ford Field in Detroit.The Bills headed to Motown on Friday:However, just getting to the airport underlines some of the problems the Bills have faced in getting ready for this game.As ESPN reported, "A team official told ESPN that all of Buffalo's coaches and players were rounded up -- with some pictured on Twitter being picked up by snowmobiles -- for the trip."Sure enough, some players took rather unique modes of transportation to the airport:The problem is that this is the first time this week the players and coaches have even seen one another, much less practiced.Yes, the team has been able to disseminate the game plan via the tablets that each NFL team started using this year, and as soon as the Bills hit the ground in Detroit and get settled in it's off to the practice field for a workout.Still, there's no denying that this has had a huge impact on the Bills' preparation for a game they absolutely have to win. NFL players and coaches are creatures of habit. Their lives (especially during the season) are highly regimented and filled with a myriad of routines.Disrupt those routines, and it's going to have an effect. And the Bills' routines weren't disrupted. They were buried under upward of eight feet of snow.Team president Russ Brandon admitted to Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News that calling the situation far from ideal would bean understatement:"Players havent been able to work out, havent been able to practice. Proper nutrition and hydration all plays a big part of the performance on Sundays. So those are concerns we all have."But wait! It gets even better! The Jets had a Week 11 bye, so while the Bills' prep time for the game has been cast into utter chaos, the Jets have had extra time to get ready.Any edge the Bills may have had in this game has been whittled down to nothing.Granted, you won't get the Bills to admit that. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, a source indicated that "This team has bonded more than any team I've seen. They've really worked together to do this."Head coach Doug Marrone told Mark Cannizzaro of The New York Post on Thursday that the Bills weren't about to use these setbacks as a crutch:The players are getting everything they need except the actual practice on the field. Ive called a few players, but everyone is in touch with the coaches, trainers and doctors depending on their situations.Im trying to create an atmosphere so were just ready. The league is going to make a decision about when were going to play. My focus has been getting the team ready to play. I dont want to create an environment where we have any excuses.It's admirable that the team has banded together and understandable that the team is putting on a brave face. On the defensive side of the ball at least, the Bills will probably be OK. The Jets rank 26th in the NFL offensively, a ranking that wouldn't seem to require much in the way of a specialized game plan.Offensively, though, it's a different story. The Bills have managed only 22 points over their past two games (both losses), and the team hasn't scored a touchdown in almost eight full quarters of game action.That unit needs all the practice time it can get.Of course, at the end of the day the Bills can only play the hand they're dealt. The game is going to happen Monday night like it or not, and if Buffalo lets these distractions lead to a loss, its hopes of making its first playoff trip this century will be all but crushed.Maybe we're making too much of this. New York linebacker Calvin Pace didn't seem to think the weather mess was that big a deal, telling ESPN, ""It's called inconvenience. That's the word I would say. But I mean, you can't do anything about Mother Nature."Of course that's easier to say riding to the airport in a Town Car than from the back of a snowmobile.Gary Davenport is an NFL Analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter@IDPManor.
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