The Sports Guy’s Thursday NFL Pick

Michael Weinstein Skunk of the Week

“Who’s up for another three hours of shitty football? Pull up a chair and watch poorly prepared, banged-up football players from two forgettable teams bring out the worst in each other … it’s Roger Goodell’s Shameless Money Grab, coming up live on the NFL Network!!!!! Hello, everyone, I’m Brad Nessler, along with Mike Mayock, we’re here in Buffalo, and Mike, you’re expecting something truly horrific tonight … ”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Tonight’s game isn’t THAT bad — the Bills are laying 2½ points to Miami with their entire season on the line. What needs to happen for the 3-6 Bills to make the playoffs? Well …

• They’d have to win at least six of their last seven: tonight; at Indianapolis; home for Jacksonville, St. Louis and Seattle; at Miami; home for the Jets. That’s five of seven home games against six teams with a combined record of 23-31-1. Every game is winnable … right? They could be 6-6 in 17 days.

• They can’t win the AFC East because the 6-3 Patriots beat them twice, so they’d have to catch the 6-3 Steelers (remember, no Roethlisberger) or 6-3 Colts (play ’em next week). Pittsburgh caught a terrible break playing Baltimore twice in the next three weeks; they also play at Cleveland and Dallas, and they’re home for San Diego, Cincy and Cleveland. Couldn’t they blow four of those if Roethlisberger missed the next SIX weeks? And Indy still plays Houston twice; they play at New England; they play at Detroit and Kansas City; and they play Buffalo and Tennessee. A 9-7 wild card in the AFC? Could happen.

• Do you like any of the four-win teams (Miami, Cincy, Tennessee or San Diego) right now?

• Four of Buffalo’s losses came against the Patriots, Niners and Texans; they also lost a “Nobody Believes in Us” game to the Jets in Week 1, and they lost a heartbreaker to the Titans on a fourth-and-15 pseudo–Hail Mary. So it’s a deceiving 3-6. Well, not really. But they can definitely move the football against the right teams. As my stepdad would say, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a stick.

• Bad sports week for Miami: The unquestionably evil Jeff Loria pulled a Gordon Gekko on the city of Miami, the Heat lost two convincing road games, the Dolphins got crushed by Tennessee on Sunday … and now, two Miami teams (Heat and Dolphins) play on national TV tonight on the same night? Buffalo couldn’t be catching the Dolphins at a better time. If you were wondering, a $100 “This Isn’t Miami’s Week” parlay on the Bills and Nuggets pays $182 (although 5 percent goes to Jeff Loria).

• This is both a compliment and an insult, but hasn’t Ryan Fitzpatrick established himself as one of those “I could easily catch fire and win five straight or totally fall apart and lose five straight at any given time” QBs? He’s conditionally dangerous. He’s like the Claire Danes–as–Carrie Mathison of QBs — he can look attractive one minute and absolutely frightening the next. Isn’t that the kind of guy who could rip off six of seven wins before losing by 45 points in the playoffs?

• Buffalo’s defense might rank 31st in DVOA, but the Bills don’t play another top-12 DVOA offense this season. And they might have the 32nd-best run defense, but they’re playing only one more one elite back (Marshawn Lynch) and getting him at home (remember, the Seahawks are 1-4 on the road).

  • It’s the Year of the Mayans and weird shit has been happening all year. Wouldn’t an improbable Bills playoff run fit right in with Zito beating Verlander in a World Series game, the Marlins’ fire sale, Tebow’s 80-yard overtime playoff TD, the Lakers passing up Phil Jackson for Mike D’Antoni, Notre Dame’s possibly playing for a national title, the Colts trading Peyton Manning, Eli Manning becoming the most clutch Super Bowl QB of his generation, Europe’s Ryder Cup comeback, England hosting the Summer Olympics without a single storm and everything else?
  • Under that umbrella, a Bills-Patriots Round 1 playoff game isn’t nearly as ridiculous as you might think — especially if C.J. Spiller goes off these next few weeks. You never know. Regardless, I love the Bills tonight. Buffalo, you’ve been sprayed.

    The Pick: Buffalo 30, Miami 20

    Last Week: 5-9
    Wed/Thur Record: 3-6-1
    Season: 73-70-3

    Filed Under: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, NFL

    Bill Simmons is the founding editor of Grantland and the author of the New York Times no. 1 best seller The Book of Basketball. For every Simmons column and podcast, click here.

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