1 - Gaines brings the best out of Buffalo
On Thursday, head coach Sean McDermott confirmed that cornerback E.J. Gaines will play against the Dolphins this Sunday. That’s great news, as the Bills are 7-3 this season when Gaines is on the field.
“I actually didn’t know that stat. I just try to bring something different to the defense when I’m out there,” said Gaines. “Whether it’s in coverage, coming up to try and make tackles, and cause some negative plays for the offense. That’s really all I’m here for. I think coach likes that about me.”
Gaines injured his knee in Week 15 against the Dolphins. He had two tackles and one pass defended before leaving mid-way through the third quarter. He had a tackle on tight end Julius Thomas that resulted in his injury.
“I went low on the guy and when I broke off on the guy I broke off on my left leg,” said Gaines. “My knee just kind of buckled under me. It was just one of those freak plays.”
Thankfully, it was a minor injury and only took Buffalo’s starting CB off the field for one game.
He’s played in 10 games this season, starting in all 10 of those. The Bills are 7-3 with Gaines and 1-4 without him. He’s tallied 51 tackles, seven passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one interception this year.
Gaines will be back for Buffalo’s biggest game in well over a decade. He’s extremely anxious to return from his one-week hiatus.
“Bad, really bad. I do. It’s the last regular season game and it means a lot,” he said. “It means our whole season. I want to be out there regardless of what’s going on.”
2 – Subpar field conditions could be in store Sunday**
The Bills have a huge game this weekend against the Dolphins, but before they take the field, two other teams are slated to play. That game could alter the playing conditions for Sunday’s regular season finale.
This Saturday, at 8 pm, the Wisconsin Badgers and Miami Hurricanes will play in the Orange Bowl. That game will take place at Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins.
Prior to this season, the Dolphins redid their entire playing field with new sod. Which is great, but grass won’t stand much of a chance during a 60 minute college bowl game. Especially when the Bills and Dolphins square off less than 24 hours later.
Head coach, Sean McDermott, has discussed the situation with the team’s equipment staff.
“We’ve talked about it a little bit,” said McDermott. “We’ll just keep our eye on it moving forward.”
Field conditions impact all of the players, but debatably kickers are affected the most. Bills kicker, Stephen Hauschka, honed in on the potentially subpar conditions.
“I’ll bring a bunch of shoes, seriously. Then scout it out and go with what’s best,” said Hauschka. “I always travel with a couple cleats, but I have some heavy duty ones in case the field is real bad.”
The biggest issue is with the kicker's plant foot, as you don’t want it sliding around. Hauschka will have to test out his spikes and make a game-time decision to choose the correct pair.
“It’s a feel thing, honestly. If the field is chewed up, every single one of them is different,” said Hauschka. “The same field probably doesn’t make total sense, but they all interact differently with your cleats. I just try out a few of them and see what one works best.”
3 - Week 17 win would be Incognito’s first winning season**
A win in Week 17 would be meaningful for a multitude of reasons for the Buffalo Bills. It would also mean a lot for guard, Richie Incognito, as he’s never had a winning season in his 11-year career.
A win could potentially result in Buffalo’s first playoff berth since 1999, and the first of Incognito’s career.
“Yeah, a chance for me to go to the playoffs for the first time, really a chance for me to be on a 9-7 team for the first time,” said Incognito. “It’s exciting. I’m trying to pull as many young guys together as I can to get them to buy in, go out there and be physical, and have the right mindset.”
Incognito’s been on an eight-win team three times in his career. Once with the Rams (2006), once with the Dolphins (2013), and once with the Bills (2015). He hasn’t been able to get over that hump, but that could change on Sunday.
“It’s special. Being this close, being able to taste it, waking up, it has a different feeling. It really does, at this point in the season,” said Incognito. “It’s exciting. I hope the guys stay in the moment. I hope the guys embrace it and I hope the guys show up on Sunday and let it all hang, play our best football of the season.”
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