A column by Senior Sports Columnist Chuck Pollock
When the NFL schedule came out last spring, it was hard to miss the Week 6 matchup for the Bills, a Sunday night home game against the Giants coached by their former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
What added spice to the pairing was that last season Daboll shocked the pro football world. He not only steered New York into playoffs, but he also won a postseason game at Minnesota, and garnered himself a Coach of the Year Award in the process.
That was then, this is now.
THE GIANTS, at 1-4, are one of the NFL’s worst teams, sharing that record with the staggering Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals, their lone victim.
It gets worse.
Only New England, with 55 points, has scored fewer than New York’s 62 and even that figure comes with an asterisk. Incredibly, the Giants haven’t scored an offensive TD in the first half this season. Their lone TD before intermission was last week at Miami on an NFL season-best 102-yard interception return.
New York also has a league-worst average of 255 yards total offense per game.
It started with a 40-0 home loss to the Cowboys in the season opener, then the injuries started piling up like Lincoln Logs.
This week, 17 Giants were on the injury report, among them quarterback Daniel Jones, out for the game with a neck injury.
Thus, New York will start former Bill Tyrod Taylor at QB and many of the others on the injury list find their status uncertain heading into Sunday night’s meeting at Highmark Stadium (8:15, NBC-TV).
BUT THE Bills, 3-2, fresh from an embarrassing, energyless 25-20 loss to Jacksonville last Sunday in London have injury issues of their own.
For the second straight week, Buffalo lost a key defender … it this case two. Cornerback Tre’Davious White was lost to an Achilles tendon rupture in the win over Miami. Against the Jaguars, outside linebacker Matt Milano (knee/leg) and run-stuffing defensive tackle Da’Quan Jones (pectoral tear) were lost to injuries. Both had surgery and either is likely to return this season.
Replacing Milano will be a major task, though coach Sean McDermott is trying to cobble together the tandem of Tyler Dodson and rookie Dorian Williams to man the position. In addition, the Bills brought back veteran linebacker A.J. Klein from the practice squad and activated second-year pro Baylon Spector from injured reserve.
The Bills actually have decent depth at defensive tackle with Jordan Phillips, Poona Ford and Tim Settle available to fill Jones’ spot — though none are him — while also backing up fellow starter Ed Oliver.
However another problem emerged this week as Dane Jackson, filling White’s spot, missed practice with a foot injury.
And, on offense, the top two tight ends — Dawson Knox (wrist) and rookie Dalton Kincaid (concussion protocol) were limited in workouts.
Jackson, Knox and Kincaid were listed as questionable in the week’s final injury report and if one or both tight ends can’t go, Buffalo’s only other option is veteran Quintin Morris.
WHEN ASKED about the Giants, McDermott, aware of his team’s injury issues, and knowing it was coming off such a lethargic performance, was even more gracious than usual, ignoring New York’s woes this season.
“They’re a good solid football team, though they’ve had some injuries” he admitted. “Last season they went into the playoffs as a wild card and won in Minnesota. They’ve got good schemes and good coaches.
“We’ve got a test on our hands on Sunday night and we’ve got to focus on ourselves. Look at the new personnel we’ve got in there (filling in for injured players). And, fundamentally, we’ve got to get better technique-wise.”
As for facing Daboll, who served four years as Buffalo’s offensive coordinator and quarterback whisperer to Josh Allen, McDermott added, “We’re very much aware (of the familiarity) … people leave your place or you leave for another place … good things happen when you’re productive. So (Daboll) went on and got a head-coaching job.
“We’ve coached against coaches we’ve been around (McDermott worked for Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Ron Rivera in Carolina), but respectfully, our focus has to be on us.”
LAS VEGAS favors the Bills by 14 points and virtually all the “experts” tab Buffalo by two or three touchdowns, which is a logical conclusion given the circumstances.
But I’m not so sure Daboll won’t do everything possible not to be embarrassed in the city where he made his reputation AND the Bills still have those injuries and the bad taste from what happened a week ago at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Buffalo 27, Giants 19
(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at email@example.com.)
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