Bills unhappy facing too many rested opponents

The Bills aren’t impressed with the NFL schedule-maker, who is

being blamed for providing Buffalo’s opponents too many breaks –

the extended kind.

The Bills’ slate this season has them facing a league-high six

teams coming off either bye weeks or nine-day layoffs. That

includes the New York Jets twice, as well as Buffalo’s opponent on

Sunday: Jacksonville (4-9) has been off since Dec. 5.

Coach Doug Marrone called that a disadvantage because ”the one

thing that helps you the most is rest.”

Bills president Russ Brandon has expressed his concerns to the

NFL.

”We certainly have talked to the league about this because it’s

a little bit disappointing,” Brandon said during his weekly radio

show on Buffalo’s WGR-AM last month.

The Bills couldn’t even entirely take advantage of their own bye

week on Nov. 24.

They returned the following week to face Atlanta, which was

coming off a nine-day rest. And the warm-weather Falcons, who won

34-31 in overtime, also benefited from getting to play indoors in

the Bills’ annual ”home” game in Toronto, and avoid the wintry

conditions at Buffalo.

The Bills (4-9) are 2-3 so far in games against teams that have

enjoyed extended rests. And they were 1-3 last year, the first

season in which the NFL instituted a rule to have each of its 32

teams play on Thursday.

The overall NFL results, however, have been mixed, failing to

entirely support the Bills’ claim of the more-rested opponent

getting an edge. Since the start of 2012, teams facing rested

opponents have gone a combined 62-64-2, according to STATS.

The Eagles led the league last season with six opponents coming

off breaks, and went 1-5. And yet the Seahawks last season went

4-1, while the Falcons were 4-0.

In the NFL’s defense, it’s difficult to create a schedule that’s

fair to every team, league spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an

email.

”Constructing a 256-game schedule is an extraordinarily complex

challenge,” McCarthy said. ”We try to minimize such occurrences,

but sometimes they are unavoidable due to the complexities of

building a schedule.”

Teams are allowed to make special requests regarding their

schedule. The Bills make several.

Buffalo prefers playing most of its home games before

Thanksgiving because the team has had difficulty selling out games

at Orchard Park once the weather turns nasty. Then there’s the game

in Toronto, which is traditionally scheduled against an NFC team

and following the conclusion of the Canadian Football League season

in late November.

”Multiply those types of issues and requests by 32, and that’s

the challenge of putting together the NFL schedule,” McCarthy

said. ”We know that we are not able to make every team happy every

year.”

Though unhappy with the schedule, Marrone is more focused on

getting a win at Jacksonville. Buffalo has lost five of seven, is

1-5 on the road and on the verge of extending the NFL’s longest

playoff drought to 14 seasons.

”To sit here and complain about this and complain about that,

why?” Marrone said. ”We have nothing to do with the schedule.

When it comes out, our job is to play and win no matter where we

are.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org