Happy Game Day Cat Crave Nation! It is only the preseason, but any football makes our hearts skip a beat at this point. Pads are on, helmets are tightened and fans get to see some real action. The Buffalo Bills are our first opponent of the preseason tonight at Bank of America Stadium. Dennis Amo, Editor at BuffaLowDown.com of the FanSided Network asked six questions leading up to tonight’s contest. We returned the favor and quizzed him on the same six topics. Here are Dennis’ answers as a nice pre-game warm-up for fans to get to know our opponent a little more. Thank you for your time Dennis!
1. How would you assess the team’s offseason? Did they do what they needed to do through the draft and free agency?
The Buffalo Bills have addressed many needs during the off season so far. The addition of Sammy Watkins will add another level on offense that is much needed as well as some scoring potential. The Bills addressed needs on the defensive side of the ball, mainly adding depth to their linebacking corps with Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers, both known for their run stopping power which plagued the Bills last year. The Bills have lost Kiko Alonso for the season due to a knee injury but with the moves made so far it is not as big of a loss as it could have been.
2. Which Rookie(s) are you most excited to see play in 2014 and why?
Sammy Watkins, no doubt. He adds a level of excitement to the field and the offense that you can’t recreate. Watkins will add depth to the field along with the ability to catch any ball anywhere on the field. He is able to make plays at all levels on the field and for the Bills, this type of player was needed, a true #1 wide receiver.
3. Are there any holes that need addressing before the start of the season?
The safety position is the biggest hole left by free agency when Jairus Byrd sought employment elsewhere. Aaron Williams is the incumbent at Strong Safety so the position battle is between Da’Norris Searcy and Duke Williams. Searcy had a good season last year playing as both Byrd’s and Williams’ back up so it is really his to lose but it is tough to fill the shoes of Byrd.
The quarterback position is still a question mark for the Bills as well. Manuel is coming of an injury plagued rookie season where not much was accomplished and inconsistencies during the off season so far still leave a lot of questions to be answered. Past Manuel, the Bills have Jeff Tuel and Thad Lewis, neither are #1 quarterbacks, so the situation has not changed from last year in any way whatsoever. Without a solid quarterback, there is not a single team in this league that will make the playoffs or have a winning season. The Bills trying to break their 14 year playoff drought, need a solid quarterback for that to happen. Manuel needs to show a lot of progression in just a short time.
4. Where do you feel the Bills will finish this year?
Everyone here is hoping for a playoff run and a break of the 14-year drought. It is realistic, they probably have the best chance in the league to worst to first. The possibility is there that they make the playoff run, but I don’t think that a first place finish in the AFC East will happen. I am looking at a 9-7 season. The second half of the season is going to be a tough one so that will make or break their season. They will need to win the close ones and upset one or two teams this year, to have a better record than 9-7.
5. Are there any position battles that you are keeping an eye on that Panthers fans should pay attention to?
The offensive line is the biggest position battle that intrigues me the most. With three rookies fighting for spots and only two positions set on the line, it is the place to watch. The right guard position is up in the air between Kraig Urbik, Chris Hairston and rookie Cyril Richardson. Right Tackle also has one going between Erik Pears and rookie Cyrus Kouandjio. At left tackle, Cordy Glenn is the penciled in starter but with an illness keeping him out of camp to date, 7th round draft pick Seantrel Henderson is turning heads and may be the best draft pick next to Watkins for the Bills. If he shows well and Glenn comes back, he may steal the right tackle spot from under both Pears and Kouandjio. I mentioned the safety position as well, that would be a battle to watch and the final big battle in camp is the 5th and 6th recevier spots for the Bills. With Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and Mike Williams all securing spots, 4 receivers are fighting for 2 spots.
6. What is your predicted outcome for game?
Like you, I think it will be a low scoring game. I think that the Bills defense will come out and play as they did last week. They did stumble in the middle with the second team defense, but with a couple more practices under their belt, it should be a solid showing. For the Bills offense, EJ Manuel needs to take control and get his team behind him. If this happens and a rhythm starts, the Bills will take this one from the Panthers, 14-10 Bills.
There you have it Cat Crave Nation. Seems like we are both on the same page with a low-scoring affair, but with different outcomes. Enjoy the game tonight and here’s hoping for a Carolina Panthers win!