Well the Bills got that first win that they so desperately needed last week against the Lions. This time they did what they had to at the end even though it was a nail biter, but a win is a win. They just have to build off it now, try to keep guys healthy and keep plugging along.
The most encouraging sign on offense last week was how involved Fred Jackson was in the game plan. I know I've been a proponent of getting Fred more involved, but I'm not mentioning anything that Chan Gailey doesn't already know. He knows that when you start getting into November and December that you have to have your running game going.
As a matter of fact I was talking to Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier this week about throwing the ball in that wind inside Ralph Wilson Stadium. I was telling him how he has to throw it more on a line and not put as much air under the football because that wind is just going to take your ball and you're going to lose control.
So for them the run game has to pick up its production level every week now if they want to win some games in December up here in the weather and the wind. I know they've been working extra hard on it and they've simplified it somewhat from what I understand, and of late it looks like it's been working.
The guys up front look like they're turning a corner too as a unit. When you come into a new system like they did this season the blocking can be different. The philosophy and the coaching can be different too whether it's how you're blocking the linebackers and the angles that you take. All coaches are different, so it usually takes a little time.
For the linemen it's just a matter of working through all of that and progressing. But in the end it comes back to Fred Jackson. Everybody knows what a tough running back he is and he's done a heck of a job. It's just a matter of giving him touches and having the line in front of him in sync.
There was an interesting stat I came across this week. The Bills are ranked number one in red zone touchdown percentage. I know Chan has credited his players for their rate of success down there and he's right because success in the red zone is all about execution.
Being able to run in the red area is huge. If you spread them out and you make all your blocks and you give your back an extra second to make that cut that's the difference between four yards in the red area and 15 yards and making it across the goal line.
Not too many people realize that if you miss one block and there's a backside block, where a defensive end comes down hard on it, if your tight end doesn't cut that guy off then he's going to make the tackle for a one-yard loss or a two-yard gain. If the tight end does make that block then that can be the difference and your back is likely breaking a big one. What you ultimately want to do is get past the linebackers and into the secondary.
Looking at Sunday's game execution in the run game as well as the passing game is going to be the difference in this one. In relation to that it's encouraging to see what the Bills have been doing on third down offensively of late. They've raised their conversion rate to over 40 percent, which is not elite, but very respectable.
A good deal of the credit has to go to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been lights out on third down. Right now he's got a 110 passer rating on third down, which is the best in the AFC and second only to Drew Brees in the league. That just speaks to how well he's going through his progressions and making good decisions. Pre-snap he's been doing very well dissecting coverages on third down.
Losers of six straight the Bengals are reeling a bit so you know they're going to be up for this game. They're back home and you know T.O. is going to be talking smack amongst the players in his locker room about the Bills to try to get those guys jacked up.
Cincinnati is not a bad football team, but for whatever reason they just haven't played consistent football. I really can't put my finger on what their problem has been, but the Bills have their own issues to worry about. So it's just a matter of being prepared, not making mental mistakes and going on the road and winning one.