Unfortunately, not a whole lot of sugar plums were dancing in my head as I contemplated the state of the Buffalo Bills through these final days of a season that will be remembered more for what went wrong than what went right:
1. That darn Grinch has sure spent a lot of time in the Bills' locker room this week. At least one player, Mario Williams, actually took his complaint game up a notch with the most detailed explanation yet of why Rex Ryan's defense hasn't worked this season. I know Ryan did his best to justify his non-muzzle policy by extolling the virtues of letting fans have an inside look at what goes on inside of a team. And for those of us who make our living reporting about this team, it's a godsend. There's nothing better than having player after player speak his mind, because it rarely happens in the NFL. But did you ever wonder why it rarely happens? Simple. It isn't a coincidence that teams whose players don't routinely take swipes at their coaches' schemes or at each other are the ones having more success than the hapless Bills. And did you get a look at that lengthy injury report Ryan announced after Thursday's practice? Suddenly, new names are showing up, such as that of cornerback Ronald Darby (groin). It makes you wonder just how enthusiastic some of the regular players are going to be about playing these final two meaningless games.
2. I don't want to take anything away from the fact the Bills lead in the NFL in rushing. It's an impressive accomplishment, especially in a season that has produced such little joy for their fans. But let's give it some context. After the team-high 895 rushing yards of LeSean McCoy, the next most productive runner is quarterback Tyrod Taylor with 450 yards. Keep in mind, a large portion of that total is from scrambling, not designed run plays, so to say the Bills have built a dominant ground attack is a bit of a stretch. Not coincidentally, the teams that rank second and third in the league in rushing are Seattle and Carolina, both of which also have highly effective running quarterbacks. Russell Wilson (502 yards) is the Seahawks' second-leading rusher, while Cam Newton (580) is in the same spot for the Panthers. It isn't until you get to No. 4 (Tampa Bay) and No. 5 (Minnesota) on the list that you have clubs whose lofty rushing status are driven primarily by running backs (quarterback Teddy Bridgewater does rank second on the Vikings, but he has a mere 178 yards to Adrian Peterson's NFL-leading 1,314).
3. It's hard to ignore the fact that the Bills are going to be lucky if half of the seats at The Ralph are filled for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. The combination of both teams having nothing on the line and a forecast calling for rain will likely prompt a whole bunch of ticket holders to decide their time will be better spent doing things such as returning gifts, taking down the lights, and hauling the tree to the curb. The Bills have to be bracing for a fairly significant hit to their profits. Because when there are fewer people in the stadium, there are fewer sales at the concessions stands and the Bills store. Those neighboring homes that sell parking spots in their driveways and front lawns are also going to feel the pinch.