NFL Nation: 49ers-Bills
That should pretty much do it.
The Buffalo Bills have a .500 record and are alone at the bottom of the AFC East with only four games to play.
So much for that scalding hot 4-0 start. The Bills also were 5-1 and the darlings of the AFC.
The Bills' defense, playing without safety Donte Whitner, cornerback Jabari Greer and Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel, performed well enough for a victory. The Bills gave up only 195 net yards (62 rushing, 133 passing) and just 12 first downs.
But the Bills' offense didn't show up, and kicker Rian Lindell missed two field goals.
Bills quarterback Trent Edwards was awful. J.P. Losman emerged from the bullpen at the start of the second half and mustered a semblance of offense, but not nearly enough. The Bills have stumbled against 3-4 defenses all season. Now they're 1-5 against them.
The 49ers, meanwhile, became the first team in 15 tries to travel three time zones eastward and win.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike SandoThe 49ers showed everything they want to be under Mike Singletary in becoming the first West Coast team to win in the Eastern time zone this season.
Running back Frank Gore ran the ball on the 49ers' first five offensive plays. Quarterback Shaun Hill managed the game and struck downfield selectively. Free-agent addition Justin Smith blew up a fourth-and-2 running play in the fourth quarter when the Bills were threatening to score. And when the Bills needed a comeback late, the 49ers' pass rush took over, with Ray McDonald getting pressure and Smith collecting a key sack.
With the exception of a Gore fumble and an untimely penalty, the 49ers were the smarter team in the second half, letting the Bills make the errors. The Bills were the team suffering from shaky quarterback play, bad decision making and questionable game management.
This marked a reversal for the 49ers and a breakthrough performance for Singletary as he builds a case for keeping the job in 2009.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The 49ers can make it 0-for-15 among teams traveling west to east across a 3-hour time difference this season. Seattle (0-4), Oakland (0-3), San Diego (0-3), Arizona (0-3) and San Francisco (0-1) have combined for an 0-14 record in games starting at 10 a.m. PT.
The Cardinals' defeat to the Eagles on Thursday night didn't qualify because Arizona is on Mountain time and does not adjust for daylight savings.
The early start isn't the 49ers' only enemy at Ralph Wilson Stadium. San Francisco's defense has allowed nine passing touchdowns over its last four games despite holding the Rams to one during a 35-16 victory in Week 11. The Bills aren't a great passing team, but they are coming of a 54-point showing at Kansas City.
Bulger has taken too many hits to trust his protection and run the offense with confidence. Jackson figures to be rusty if he returns, and his durability is in question. Pace is still a good player when healthy, but an offensive tackle can do only so much.
And it's not as though the Rams' defense has shown signs of picking up the slack. This game qualifies as a must-win for the Dolphins as they make a playoff push. Their ground game should punish the Rams' poor-tackling defense.
Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron graduated from Yale, where he was a member of the prestigious Wolf's Head secret society.
So when he sheepishly said it was happenstance Pacific time zone teams are 0-14 in the Eastern time zone so far this year, you had to figure he merely was trying to avoid the topic with the San Francisco 49ers visiting Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday.
A reporter asked Jauron what factors have played into the 0-14 record.
"You're asking me only what I think," Jauron replied Wednesday when asked what factors have played in the trend. "I think it's coincidence."
Math reveals otherwise.
If everything were equal, the probability of starting with 14 straight losses is .0061 percent, or one out of 16,384 possible outcomes.
But, of course, there isn't an even playing field because AFC West and NFC West teams simply aren't that good this year. They're bad enough in their own stadiums, but when they fly east to play games at what their players' bodies think is 10 a.m., winning is that much tougher.
To accomplish something that, in a vacuum, has six one-thousands of a percent probability indicates a rather powerful, legitimate trend that means the Bills better win Sunday.
Then again, Jauron's smart enough to realize those wouldn't have been very nice things to say.
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