Bills went from tanking talk to the playoffs, and other Week 17 thoughts

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In August, the Bills were fighting off accusations that they were tanking on the season. On Sunday, the Bills will play their first playoff game in the 21st Century.

Buffalo won on Sunday, and got some help in the form of Baltimore losing, and so the NFL’s longest playoff drought is over. But not many people expected them to be here. Or anywhere close to here. Many assumed the Bills were actually trying to lose in 2017 because they thought they had no hope this season and wanted to build a better team in the future with higher draft picks.

The tanking talk heated up when the Bills traded Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby, getting a bounty of 2018 draft picks in the process. That led to people saying new G.M. Brandon Beane and new coach Sean McDermott didn’t even want to win in 2017, instead prioritizing winning in the future. Beane lashed out at that.

I was very annoyed,” Beane said of first hearing talk that the Bills are tanking, in an August appearance on PFT Live. “We’re going to compete our tails off for 2017.”

Beane was right and the people who accused him of throwing the season away were wrong. The Bills played to win this season and earned their postseason berth. That they did so while also making some trades that put the Bills in good position to improve the roster in the 2018 draft is a bonus.

NFL teams shouldn’t tank. Competition is the very essence of the league, and if teams aren’t competing to win, they’re violating the fundamental principles of sport. The Bills earning a playoff berth is a powerful statement that you can build for the future and also win in the present.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday:

Jimmy Garoppolo goes 5-0. The 49ers were 1-10 when Jimmy Garoppolo became their starting quarterback. The 49ers finished the season 6-10 yesterday after Garoppolo led them to five consecutive wins down the stretch. San Francisco has its quarterback of the future. Now the 49ers should get him locked up to a long-term contract, even if they have to pay him a fortune to do it. Garoppolo has only seven career starts (two with New England last year and five in San Francisco this year) but he might get the most lucrative contract in NFL history.

Jeff Triplette can’t control a game. I’m sure Triplette, the longtime NFL referee, is a perfectly fine fellow. But he just shouldn’t be an NFL ref. He routinely loses control of the games he’s working. After a fight broke out in the Bills-Dolphins game, Triplette and his crew took about 10 minutes to get everything sorted out and get the game going. As Triplette was calling all the penalties, he called the numbers of two players who weren’t on the field. Then he called the number of a Dolphins player who doesn’t exist (Triplette called No. 24, and the Dolphins don’t have a 24 on their team). Triplette routinely makes mistakes that an NFL referee shouldn’t make.

Playoff spots are determined by inches. In September, Lions receiver Golden Tate appeared to score a game-winning touchdown on the final play of a game against the Falcons. But instant replay overturned the call, ruling that Tate’s knee had touched the ground with the ball just inches shy of the goal line. Now the 10-6 Falcons are in the playoffs, and the 9-7 Lions are out. If the Lions had won that game, they’d be 10-6 and in, and the Falcons would be 9-7 and out. That’s how close the difference between success and failure is in the NFL.

Blake Countess should be suspended. Countess, the Rams’ cornerback who laid a vicious hit to the head of 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin on Sunday, should be suspended for Saturday’s playoff game against the Falcons. The NFL needs to send a message that hits to the head like that won’t be tolerated, and forcing a player to sit out a playoff game might get that message out.

James Harrison will make a difference in the playoffs. The Patriots added Harrison, the longtime Steelers pass rusher, just in time to see him record two sacks in Sunday’s finale. I have a feeling he’s going to prove himself to be a difference-maker in the postseason. Especially if he takes on his former team in the AFC Championship Game.

The Vikings might not leave Minnesota. No team has ever played a Super Bowl on its home field, but the Vikings have the best chance any team has ever had. Minnesota is the No. 2 seed in the NFC, meaning it will play a home divisional round game, and the only reason the Vikings can leave Minnesota is if they travel to Philadelphia for the NFC Championship Game. And with the Eagles playing without the injured Carson Wentz, that’s looking unlikely. Don’t be surprised if the Vikings win two home playoff games, and then get to play in the Super Bowl at home as well.

The Giants and Colts didn’t tank, either. Heading into Sunday’s games the Browns had already clinched the first overall pick in the draft, but the second pick was down to the Giants or Colts. If they wanted to improve their draft stock, both teams should have been playing to lose. Instead, both teams won. Like the Bills, the Giants and Colts didn’t tank. NFL teams should play to win, and it’s to the credit of the Giants and Colts that they did.

47 responses to “Bills went from tanking talk to the playoffs, and other Week 17 thoughts

  1. Funny thing about the Vikings possibly being the first team to play in a Super Bowl on their home field. It’s the AFC’s turn to be the home team, so if the Vikes make it they’ll be the road team on their home field! I’m not sure, but I’m also thinking they’ll have to give up their locker room to the AFC team as well.

  2. Whatever!!! Of course Buffalo was tanking. How else do they decide to play a QB in the critical part of the season that had no reason to play? Tyrod isnt Tom Brady but you can win games with him. If it wasnt for the Ravens defensive breakdown that loss to the Chargers would have been the reason.

  3. @guypatsfan

    You may be correct that technically the AFC team would be the ‘home” team.

    But I don’t think that would be a problem for the Vikings or their fans if that’s how it works out.

    And I hope it works out.

  4. Reports are coming out that the league is saying if Vikings make the Super Bowl they will be the home team. Logical and the right thing to do in the situation.

  5. NFL teams shouldn’t tank. Competition is the very essence of the league, and if teams aren’t competing to win, they’re violating the fundamental principles of sport. The Bills earning a playoff berth is a powerful statement that you can build for the future and also win in the present…

    …NFL teams should play to win, and it’s to the credit of the Giants and Colts that they did.

    ***********

    Yet several teams rested their starters, and those games were garbage. I would be irate if I had season tix and 12.5% of what I paid for was so deliberately awful.

    But yeah, I don’t have season tix. Maybe when they move a team to Shanghai though

  6. Respect to you for calling out an inept official directly.

    NFL refs, like the players, should be judged on performance and preparation and cut if they are consistently found lacking in either.

  7. .
    No one has mentioned this but I wasn’t thrilled with Miami throwing a rookie QB out there when the fortunes of so many other teams were linked to the Bills-Dolphins outcome. Fales had 40 first half passing yards as Buffalo built a commanding lead. Everything else was garbage time. While Jay Cutler may not be league MVP, he would have given Miami a much better chance to win. Fans of the Chargers should be particularly upset by the Dolphins tank job.
    .

  8. Whatever!!! Of course Buffalo was tanking. How else do they decide to play a QB in the critical part of the season that had no reason to play? Tyrod isnt Tom Brady but you can win games with him. If it wasnt for the Ravens defensive breakdown that loss to the Chargers would have been the reason.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    The Bills were going to get their butts kicked in that game no matter who played QB. Tyrod may not have had the interceptions, he would have just gone 3 and out and we wold have punted anyway. Our defense could stop nothing that day.

  9. Jimmy Garropolo certainly has taken the 49’ers by storm, and he COULD get the biggest contract this off season, especially how Kirk Cousins played yesterday. What a disappointment, the Redskins simply looked like they hadn’t practiced all week, and the Giants meant business. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in DC

  10. Let’s just fast forward to the AFC Championship game between Steelers Patriots. Go ahead and have the refs put the 14 points on the board for the patriots as well they usually spot’em.

  11. “Triplette routinely makes mistakes that an NFL referee shouldn’t make.”

    Agreed. He should have been fired after blinding Courtney Brown in 1999. He’s the NFL’s Rosco P. Coltrane.

  12. “NFL teams should play to win, and it’s to the credit of the Giants and Colts that they did.”

    In both cases, the head coach (Spagnuolo as interim and Pagano in Indy) was outgoing. So what does he care about tanking? Any tanking benefits won’t benefit him.

  13. Nobody has played in their home stadium, but the Niners trounced Marino’s fins in their 18-1 season at Stanford, which is closer to SF than Santa Clara.

  14. The Vikings have it worked out, that they will use their own lockers, even if the AFC has home field

  15. “Competition is the very essence of the league, and if teams aren’t competing to win, they’re violating the fundamental principles of sport.”

    Hear that, Irsay? (…and how’s sucking for Luck working out for you these days?)

  16. If the Vikings can go all the way, we’ll say Congrats and welcome to the club.

    There will be a Lombardi Trophy in the display case.

    Then we’ll remind Vikings fans it took the Cubs 108 years to win a World Series, and the next 108 year drought started shortly thereafter.

  17. Congrats to the Bills, and to the good city and fans of Buffalo! Nice to see them in the playoffs again.

  18. ‘ Blake Countess should be suspended……..The NFL needs to send a message that hits to the head like that won’t be tolerated, and forcing a player to sit out a playoff game might get that message out ‘.
    ==================================================================================================

    Good point Mr.Smith…… except you forgot one important detail…….players wearing yellow & black are of course excluded…….

    #SteelersProudlyLeadingTheNFLinOpponentConcussions

  19. Wasn’t it just ESPN that was saying they were tanking? I never got the impression of a tank job with the Bills. Oh and congrats Buffalo hopefully the Pats see you in the divisional round.

  20. Triplette was absolutely at his worst. You are a big time NFL fan when you know the Ref Committees and I tremble when the Dolphins get Booger or Triplette. They are blatantly biased. The officiating was horrendous and not consistent. Way too many NFL games this year were decided by Ref decisions. Too often teams actually have more yardage on drives from PI than actually catching the ball.

  21. Triplette is a poor excuse for an NFL official. His crew that he oversees is a direct reflection of his ability. If the league does not fire him or put him out to pasture it will be a travesty.
    That officiating in that game was just the icing on the cake for how the entire season went for the refs. And when I say that I mean ALL teams not just Miami. Miami isn’t good enough to get the benefit of the doubt calls or marginal calls to go their way. But his crew along with Bogers crew are the absolute worst !!!

  22. The NFL’s dirty little secret–big secret–is how rampant injuries are in this sport and how these seasons are really determined by which teams can find the best replacement players, who are added to team rosters in LARGE numbers every year because of the high number of injuries. Arizona yesterday had 25 players–25–on its roster who were not there on opening day. That’s more than half the roster. Crazy. And that is common in the league. And yet the league wants to extend the regular season, which only shows that the owners don’t care, really, about injuries and how they impact teams. They just want more product so they can make more money, and that is why the idea of adding regular season games is foolish.

  23. I saw that letter the Bills sent the Bengals thanking them for helping them reach the Playoffs. Pretty pathetic the Bills official letter head would include the logos of the 4 Super Bowls they LOST. Bills = Boy I Love Losing Superbowls

  24. tb12kingofthe7kingdoms says:

    January 1, 2018 at 11:11 am

    I saw that letter the Bills sent the Bengals thanking them for helping them reach the Playoffs. Pretty pathetic the Bills official letter head would include the logos of the 4 Super Bowls they LOST. Bills = Boy I Love Losing Superbowls
    ——————————–
    You know what’s really pathetic? Fans of an unethical franchise who look at blatant bias and preferential treatment as a right and not a travesty to the sport. Some fans that are so young they can’t remember that their team was once the laughing stock of the NFL and in their own right lost 4 SB’s as well. Fans that can’t appreciate good fortune for others cause it may painfully remind them of their past until they remember they get to bask in the glory of asterisk filled dynasty. Now that’s pathetic.

  25. Don’t let the trolls fool you, 99% of Viking fans know that they will find a way to screw this up, including this Vikings fan. This is a statement based on almost 30 years of watching this team. but that shouldn’t take away from the massive accomplishment and overall success this season has been. Best defense in the NFL. Third string QB. No name offensive players. 13-3. Huge success no matter what. Seriously. 13-3 is an incredible finish for the injury adversity this team has faced for the last two seasons. I actually think they can get to the Super Bowl if they can beat the Rams, which is a big if. The Rams are incredible and I don’t know if the Vikings can beat them twice in a year. But even if they go to the Super Bowl, I can’t see them beating bill belicheck and Tom Brady. I’ve seen Tom Brady play the Vikings three times, and he absolutely destroyed them more than any other quarterback I’ve seen play the Vikings.

  26. guypatsfan says:
    January 1, 2018 at 7:24 am
    Funny thing about the Vikings possibly being the first team to play in a Super Bowl on their home field. It’s the AFC’s turn to be the home team, so if the Vikes make it they’ll be the road team on their home field! I’m not sure, but I’m also thinking they’ll have to give up their locker room to the AFC team as well.
    – – – –

    It was mentioned on one of the pregame shows yesterday (I think NFLN) that the Vikings put a request in to the league office to use their home lockerroom if they qualify for the Super Bowl and the NFL approved it.

  27. If anyone knows about tanking, it’s the Dolts****

    Suck for Luck was the worst, sickening bag-job since the Black Sox. Their NFL misery won’t end for another 20 years

  28. billsbackto81 says:
    January 1, 2018 at 11:49 am
    tb12kingofthe7kingdoms says:

    January 1, 2018 at 11:11 am

    I saw that letter the Bills sent the Bengals thanking them for helping them reach the Playoffs. Pretty pathetic the Bills official letter head would include the logos of the 4 Super Bowls they LOST. Bills = Boy I Love Losing Superbowls
    ——————————–
    You know what’s really pathetic? Fans of an unethical franchise who look at blatant bias and preferential treatment as a right and not a travesty to the sport. Some fans that are so young they can’t remember that their team was once the laughing stock of the NFL and in their own right lost 4 SB’s as well. Fans that can’t appreciate good fortune for others cause it may painfully remind them of their past until they remember they get to bask in the glory of asterisk filled dynasty. Now that’s pathetic.

    0 1 Rate This

    Just checked the official NFL records, not an Asterisk in sight near any Patriots Super Bowl. Strange. Enjoy your one-and-done. The Drive for 6 begins. Brady is 26-3 versus your team, never forget

  29. ajoyce1977 says:
    January 1, 2018 at 8:04 am
    Reports are coming out that the league is saying if Vikings make the Super Bowl they will be the home team. Logical and the right thing to do in the situation.

    I hear you but that is a home field advantage. Game should be equally uncomfortable for both teams. Big plus to be in your own digs. Should be a rule that no team can use their own locker room if they end up in a SB.

  30. I had this crazy dream last night that the Bills made the playoffs!

    The glow from last night is still with me. I was in shock for hours. Now it’s starting to sink in. What a great feeling.

    I know the Bills have a good chance at being 1 and done, and even if they make it past Jacksonville they have to play New England next, so…

    But I don’t care! I’m just thrilled they made it! The drought is over. We don’t have to be constantly reminded of it by every major media outlet anymore. This is a huge step in becoming a well respected team and not the butt of every joke.

  31. richardernsberger says:
    January 1, 2018 at 11:01 am
    The NFL’s dirty little secret–big secret–is how rampant injuries are in this sport and how these seasons are really determined by which teams can find the best replacement players, who are added to team rosters in LARGE numbers every year because of the high number of injuries. Arizona yesterday had 25 players–25–on its roster who were not there on opening day. That’s more than half the roster. Crazy. And that is common in the league. And yet the league wants to extend the regular season, which only shows that the owners don’t care, really, about injuries and how they impact teams. They just want more product so they can make more money, and that is why the idea of adding regular season games is foolish.

    14 4 Rate This

    ——————-

    hence, goodell’s awkward hugging on stage on draft day and all the cheating to weaken the pats, and the glorious idea of jax in a super bowl, propelling their move to london for international “expansion”…

    also, it is why goodell
    was extended after the league lost so much revenue and goodell as an abject failure, clearly the worst commissioner in sports history…he knows too much and they don’t want a commissioner with morals pr ehtics, if they are to be able a sport with cte issues overseas…

    they have already lied about cte anyway..why not keep hiding the medical reports?

  32. One bad thing about drafting early is that you pay more to sign the player you drafted. Unless it is a player that is worth the money, a team is better off trading the pick away for more picks in the lower rounds.

  33. The Patriots will be 0-3 against NFC North teams in the Super Bowl after this year’s playoffs.

  34. tb12kingofthe7kingdoms says:

    January 1, 2018 at 11:11 am

    I saw that letter the Bills sent the Bengals thanking them for helping them reach the Playoffs. Pretty pathetic the Bills official letter head would include the logos of the 4 Super Bowls they LOST. Bills = Boy I Love Losing Superbowls

    ——-

    Two pathetic thoughts come to mind:

    1) Regardless of how much your team wins, New England* fans are the most miserable people on Earth. I don’t envy that existence. Bills fans are enjoying our playoff berth; you may well get another Super Bowl and still be looking for something new to cry about.
    2) Super Bowl is two words. That joke is 20+ years old and it never made sense to begin with.

    Let’s Go BILLSB!

  35. blckjcksn says:
    January 2, 2018 at 1:23 am
    The Patriots will be 0-3 against NFC North teams in the Super Bowl after this year’s playoffs.
    ——————————–
    How does that work when no NFC North team will be in SB? And probably no Pats either.

  36. Why should Blake Countess be suspended? His hit to the head of Marquise Goodwin was completely unintentional. Have you even watched the video clip Mr Smith? Goodwin was slipping to the ground as Countess came storming in and was clearly aiming for Goodwin’s middle. And by the way, I’m a Niner fan who’s all in favour of player safety, but that was not a deliberate head to head contact.

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