1. MHR: Kyle Orton. Yay or nay?
BR: Can I choose "meh" instead? Orton has brought a modicum of consistency and professionalism to the position, but he's also Kyle Orton. We're talking about a player that epitomizes minimum-acceptable qualifications to play NFL quarterback. Consistency has helped the Bills stay in contention in the AFC playoff race into December, but he's also held the Bills back in some key spots, as well. Quarterback remains a major issue for the Bills long-term, and there's no guarantee that Orton will even be here heading into the 2015 season.
2. Bills are rushing the passer as good as anybody. How is their defense as a whole?
Very good. I'd use gushier adjectives to describe it, but they've spent most of this season playing fairly middling offenses. We're talking about a Top 5 unit right now, but when they've faced high-quality quarterbacks - I'm thinking of Philip Rivers and Tom Brady in particular - things have not gone especially well for them. Then again, the Bills were at least competitive in both of those games thanks to this unit. The defensive line might be the best in the NFL, which allows Jim Schwartz to dial up four-man rushes and mixed coverage concepts to keep passers on their toes. Buffalo's linebackers and defensive backs have been wonderful, especially lately, executing those schemes. The trick will be making that approach work against Peyton Manning; Schwartz has seen him plenty, and will need to pull out all of the stops on Sunday.
3. What is the Bills' biggest weapon on offense, and how have teams tried to take him away?
It's most definitely Sammy Watkins, and he has had a brutal four-game stretch (105 yards, combined, in those four games). Particularly with C.J. Spiller sidelined, Watkins is really the only home run threat the Bills employ on the offensive side of the ball. He has been playing fairly poorly over the last month, and is also not 100 percent health-wise. As for how teams have been handling him, it changes on a weekly basis based on that defense's strengths. Cleveland took him away simply by lining Joe Haden up on him; Rex Ryan and the Jets rolled safeties and took away underneath throwing lanes to his side of the field. A player like Aqib Talib, if healthy, is more than talented enough to handle Watkins (though it won't at all be easy if Watkins is on his A game), especially with the spotty Orton slinging it.
4. Buffalo is winning, there's a new owner, a defense you can brag about - a lot of changes and positives. What's mostexciting about being a Bills fan these days?
They're going to be playing a legitimately meaningful football game on December 7 - one with genuine playoff implications. Very few people in Buffalo are actually expecting the Bills to make the playoffs, so this game is being treated sort of like a postseason matchup would be in a city like Denver. The Bills hadn't even won seven games in a season since 2008, so having a winning record this late into the season is a refreshing (and, yes, slightly depressing) change of pace. We're excited to see how they stack up against a Super Bowl contender, and whether or not they can come out firing on all cylinders in their biggest game in years.
5. What is your prediction for the game and for this heated AFC playoff race down the stretch?
I would rather not make a prediction, to be honest, because I am fervently shunning the rational and objective parts of my brain this week. Everyone in the entire damn civilized world is expecting Denver to win this game, including me, but that's no fun at all, is it? The Bills are relevant, talented, interesting, competitive, and capable of shocking the world, and I'm just going to soak it all in for as long as I can. I cannot wait to see how the Bills perform in this game.
Big thank again to Brian for taking the time! Give us your take on Broncos-Bills in the comments.
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