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March Madness

Don't worry, gang. I was just taking a well-deserved break to gear up for March Madness -- the best time of the year in sports. It's amazing how much can happen in a week or so. The Sabres finally traded Brian Campbell, the Bills made several big signings to address their run defense, and the McKinley fiasco continued to dominate the news pages.

I'll say this much about Campbell's departure: It was a huge blow to the Sabres' defense, despite the reluctance on the part of team apologists to downplay his emergence as a reliable force in his own end. Obviously, they miss his ability to skate the puck out of his own end. And while the players continue to play hard for Lindy Ruff most of the time, I sense a slight decline in their competitive energy. Maybe it's only a 5 percent drop, but they seem to lack the consistent urgency -- desperation, if you will -- that lifts teams in the final month of the season. Deep down, they have to feel somewhat betrayed by management.

As for the Bills, I think they took an aggressive and bold approach to free agency. If Marcus Stroud is healthy -- and that's a big if -- their run defense will be much improved. The honeymoon is over for Dick Jauron. Say what you will about Russ Brandon's lack of football background. I still have my doubts. But by bringing in all these veteran players, Brandon is clearly sending a message to his coach. It's time to go to the next level. No more moral victories when you' win seven games. If this team is healthy next year, and if Edwards develops at QB, this team should make a legitimate run at the playoffs.

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Bills, NFL
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