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C.J. Spiller likely to play Sunday; QB starter still uncertain

By Jay Skurski

Barring a setback in the next couple days, running back C.J. Spiller will return to the Buffalo Bills' lineup Sunday against Kansas City.

"I feel good about C.J. playing," coach Doug Marrone said. "In talking with him, without any setbacks, we feel he'll be ready to go."

Marrone said the decision to rest Spiller last week accomplished what the team hoped it would in healing the high-ankle sprain he's dealing with.

As for the quarterbacks, Thad Lewis missed a second straight practice and remains "50-50" to play Sunday.

Continue reading "C.J. Spiller likely to play Sunday; QB starter still uncertain" »

Is Jamaal Charles the best running back in the NFL?

By Jerry Sullivan

On today's video Roundtable, our Buffalo Bills writers debated an interesting question: If you were going to start an NFL team and could take any running back, would you take the Kansas City Chiefs' Jamaal Charles?

Well, I took a hard look at it and my answer was "yes."

Charles might be the most underrated star in the league. He leads the AFC in rushing with 635 yards. He leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,018, putting him on pace for more than 2,000. He leads K.C. in rushing and receiving yards. He leads all NFL running backs in catches with 41.

Charles is 26. He has 5,171 rushing yards and has the highest average per carry (5.5) of any back in history with 5,000 more yards on the ground. Only Marion Motley (5.7) had a higher average per carry among running backs. So you can make a strong argument for him as the top running back in the sport.

The Vikings' Adrian Peterson would be the choice for many fans. Peterson has 9,420 career rushing yards for a robust 5.0 career average. Two years ago, he rushed for 2,097 yards. But Peterson, who is 28, has almost exactly twice as many carries in his career as Charles. So if I were picking a guy right now to start a team, I'd take Charles because he has much less wear and tear on his body.

The surprising thing was, we couldn't think of any running back under age 25. The Eagles' LeSean McCoy is 25. He leads the NFL in rushing with 733 yards. So he'd be a candidate. But it's hard to find any dynamic up and coming running backs. That shows you how much the NFL has become a passing league, and how few of the young running backs would qualify as stars today.

C.J. Spiller has similar skills to Charles. In fact, I felt Charles was the most fitting model for Spiller when he was putting up those gaudy numbers a year ago. Spiller had a career rushing average of just under 5.4 yards a carry coming into this season, which put him in Charles' company. But injuries this year have set Spiller back and slowed his arrival as one of the game's true elite running backs.

What do you think? Am I missing anyone? Washington's Alfred Morris, 24, is already over 2,000 career yards in his second season in the league. The Texans' Arian Foster, who is 27, has 5,063 career rushing yards and a 4.5 average. Foster has 6,777 yards from scrimmage, just 59 behind Charles.

Anyway, Charles will present a good challenge for the Bills' defense on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills' run defense has improved quite a bit this season. They're allowing only 3.9 yards a pop, more than a full yard better than a year ago. If they can hold down Charles, who provides 37 percent of the unbeaten Chiefs' offense, the Buffalo defenders could be the talk of the NFL come Monday.

Despite scrawny numbers, Bills wary of Dwayne Bowe

By Tim Graham

The numbers certainly don't look dangerous.

The player is.

Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe hasn't made much of a statistical impact this year. But he remains a significant concern for the Buffalo Bills' defensive backfield Sunday in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"Sometimes they can lull you to sleep if they're not really throwing him the ball," Bills safety Jairus Byrd said. "He's just there, and then all of the sudden he gets hot, and he can go up and make some pretty big plays."

Continue reading "Despite scrawny numbers, Bills wary of Dwayne Bowe" »

Live video at 3 p.m.: [BN] Football Roundtable

Oddsmakers confident Bills won't rally in second half of season

By Tim Graham

Oddsmakers have almost zero faith the Buffalo Bills can make a run over their final eight games.

At the halfway point of the season, the Bills are at the bottom of the conference and division when it comes to their odds for success.

Here are online betting site's odds to win the AFC East:

  • New England Patriots 1-to-8
  • Miami Dolphins 8-to-1
  • New York Jets 8-to-1
  • Buffalo Bills 25-to-1

That's a big difference. The Dolphins are only a half-game ahead of the Bills in the standings, have lost to the Bills at home and are 0-2 in the division. The Jets are only one game ahead of the Bills.

Bovada has the Bills at 500-to-1 to win the Super Bowl, tied with the Cleveland Browns for the longest odds from the AFC. The Jacksonville Jaguars (and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) have been taken off the board.

The Bills and Browns are tied at 150-to-1 to win the AFC.

The Denver Broncos are 7-to-5 favorites to win the AFC and 13-to-4 to win the Super Bowl.

The Seattle Seahawks have the best NFC odds to win the Super Bowl at 9-to-2.

Eric Wood, Bills O-line have history with KC star Tamba Hali

By Jay Skurski

Things got pretty heated between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs during their last meeting, which came in Week Two of the 2012 season.

The Bills accused Chiefs pass rusher Tamba Hali of attempting to injure former Bills guard Andy Levitre and left tackle Cordy Glenn on consecutive plays late in the first half of what ended up being a 35-17 victory. Levitre said after the game that Hali tried twisting his neck in an attempt to injure him. Then on the next play, the Bills said Hali tried to twist Glenn's arm out of its socket.

"You get a team down, and like I said, they're going to take some shots at you. That's why we weren't taking our foot off their throats at the end," Bills center Eric Wood said at the time. "That stuff rubs you pretty wrong."

Continue reading "Eric Wood, Bills O-line have history with KC star Tamba Hali" »

Jairus Byrd at the trade deadline: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

By Tim Graham

The NFL trade deadline was a snoozefest again this year.

Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd played along with the theme.

"I was asleep at 4 o'clock," Byrd said. "I was taking a nap."

Of all the players on Buffalo's roster, Byrd was the one most likely to be traded.

Byrd is disgruntled over his contract situation after a long impasse this summer. The Bills placed the franchise tag on him, and they'll have to do so again in a few months if they want to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2014.

Continue reading "Jairus Byrd at the trade deadline: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz" »

Matt Flynn: 'I'd be lying' to pretend vindication not a factor

By Tim Graham

Matt Flynn didn't really verbalize it, but his body language spoke loudly when I asked if he's looking forward to proving people wrong.

Flynn expected to be somebody's lead quarterback by now. Opportunities with the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders crashed. Both teams got rid of him.

Now he could be on the verge of starting Sunday for the Buffalo Bills.

Continue reading "Matt Flynn: 'I'd be lying' to pretend vindication not a factor" »

What in the world is going on with the Bills' QB situation?

By Tim Graham

Want to know where things stand with each Buffalo Bills quarterback as of right freaking now?

Read forth ...

EJ Manuel

Update: Practiced today, but limited with injured right knee. ... Bills coach Doug Marrone already has ruled out Manuel for Sunday because doctors haven't cleared him.

Quote: "He looks good out there." -- Marrone

Thad Lewis

Update: Missed practice with rib contusions from multiple hits in Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints. ... X-rays negative. ... Also has the flu.

Quote: "Do we want him to play? Yes." -- Marrone

Jeff Tuel

Update: Shared first-team reps in practice today. ... Has been backup quarterback all season, but leapfrogged by Lewis after Manuel got hurt in week 5.

Quote: "I feel better about Jeff right now because I know Jeff. ... The Cleveland game is probably the worst situation you could ever have for him. He's a rookie free agent. We all know that. But we do like what he does, and we like the tools. In a perfect world, we'd love to have him on the practice squad and work with him." -- Marrone

Matt Flynn

Update: Shared first-team reps in practice today. ... Still learning the Bills' offense after being signed two weeks ago. ... Was scratched for both games he has been on the roster.

Quote: "I'm in a competition with myself to learn the playbook and get myself as ready as I can. ... I feel very confident. Schematically, it's a West Coast system. I've been in a West Coast since my rookie year. I'm very comfortable with the football portion of it. To me, football's football. It's just a matter of learning how to call it." -- Flynn

Dennis Dixon

Update: Still on the practice squad. ... No intention to promote him to 53-man roster. ... Marrone confirmed Dixon is not in the competition to play Sunday.

Marquise Goodwin: 'I'm ready to go' despite elbow injury

By Tim Graham

Marquise Goodwin has endured some bad luck as a rookie.

His preseason finale ended early because he got poked in the eye. He broke his right hand on opening day and missed four games. He dejectedly left Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints on a cart.

Goodwin offered some good news today. His elbow injury isn't as serious as it looked.

"No worries at all," Goodwin told reporters today at his locker stall. "I'm ready to go."

Continue reading "Marquise Goodwin: 'I'm ready to go' despite elbow injury" »

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |