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After Woulda-Shoulda Win Turned Overtime Loss a Week Ago, Bills Try to Pick up Pieces Against Minnesota

A week ago, the Buffalo Bills faced one of the NFL’s elite when they hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It was a true under dog story, and before the coin toss it was perceived that the Bills didn’t belong on the same playing field as the vaunted Steelers.

For a majority of the game, the Bills took on the 300-pound gorilla, and nearly locked him in his cage.  For a quick moment, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s deep pass to WR Steve Johnson seemed to put the nail in Pittsburgh’s coffin.  But,  a sure-thing turned into the Bills third overtime loss of the season and fourth defeat by three points.

Now fast forward to today’s road clash against the Minnesota Vikings and both Johnson and the Bills are ready to put the crushing loss behind them and focus on moving forward.  There’s definitely a tremendous rapport between Johnson and Fitzpatrick and Johnson’s huge drop a week ago isn’t going to deterr Fitzpatrick  from targeting his favorite wide out.

The Bills stand at 2-9 with a silver lining: they haven’t lost to a team with a losing record.  FYI, Minnesota’s record is well under .500.  The Vikings stand at 4-7.  Ironically, this will be interim head coach Leslie Frazier’s first home game since replacing Brad Childress on Nov.22.  The irony here is that just a year ago it was Frazier who interviewed for the vacant head coaching position in Buffalo.

Coinciding with the Bills’  two wins in the past three games is RB Fred Jackson.  After registering only one touchdown in the first seven games and no 100-yard rushing performances, Jackson has amassed two 100-yard outputs in the past four games, including a season-high 133 yards on Nov.14 against Detroit.  In that same four-game swing, Jackson has six total touchdowns (4 rushing, 2 receiving) and last week in the loss to Pittsburgh, Jackson posted a career-best 104 receiving yards.

Standing at 4-7 and dealing with a laundry list of disappointments and unfufilled expectations, the Minnesota Vikings will attempt to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

It’s been messy in Minnesota in 2010.  Brad Childress was fired.  Randy Moss was claimed off waivers only to be released by the team a few weeks later.  Brett Favre’s final NFL season has gone south and now the Vikings are a ship without a compass and face numerous questions to answer in the offseason.

Last week, after losing RB Adrian Peterson and playing mistake free football, Minnesota defeated the Washington Redskins 17-13, getting interim head coach Leslie Frazier his first head coaching victory.  The win, however, may have come at the expense of Peterson, who suffered an ankle sprain early in the second quarter and will be a game-time decision against the Bills.  If the Vikings are without the services of the league’s third-ranked rusher, backup RB Tody Gerhart will repalce Peterson.  Last week in relief of the injured Peterson, Gerhart rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Whoever it is that handles the workload for Minnesota, they’ll be going against the  NFL’s worst-ranked rushing defense.  Buffalo is allowing 167.4 yards rushing per game in 2010.  In contrast, the Bills could face tough sledding running against the Vikings’ defense, who are giving up 92.7 ypg and have not allowed a rushing touchdown at home this season.

Prediction:  Vikings 27, Bills 23.   Go back to Week 4 when the Bills were blasted by the New York Jets and since that embarrassing home loss, the Bills have been in every game and they’ve had a chance to win each game.  Last week, Minnesota righted their ship somewhat and showed some character and toughness picking up Leslie Frazier’s first coaching victory.  The Vikings are a few shells of their 2009 selves, but at home the Vikings defense will be a difficult task for the Bills to conquer.  I think Adrian Peterson plays and that won’t be good for the Bills who hold the dubious rank as the NFL’s worst rushing defense.  I think Peterson gets a few scores and the purple people eaters give the home fans someething to cheer about.

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