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Bills get a ‘favorable’ home slate

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Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014 12:45 am

What happened to that Thanksgiving afternoon game in Detroit?

The Monday nighter at “The Ralph” against the Packers?

When the Bills’ schedule was revealed by the NFL on Wednesday night — actually a half hour too early by the team’s website, which has endured a tough few days  — it revealed a home slate Marv Levy would love.

Buffalo’s Hall of Fame coach has long maintained that the league’s coaches are creatures of habit and the visibility of prime time aside, in their heart of hearts they would prefer to play every game on Sunday afternoon at 1 o’clock.

Presto ... that’s exactly what the Bills got for the coming season, at least at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

THE 2014 slate has booked Buffalo for eight 1 p.m. Sunday games starting with the home opener Sept. 14 (Dolphins) and followed by San Diego (Sept. 21), New England (Oct. 12), Minnesota (Oct. 19), Kansas City (Nov. 9), the Jets (Nov. 23), Cleveland (Nov. 30) and Green Bay (Dec. 14).

That schedule delights the Bills’ ticket sales administration in that, first, there’s no Toronto “home” game for the first time since 2007 (and, hopefully, never again while the franchise is Buffalo’s), and second, there’s only one December game at “The Ralph.”

Yeah, the Browns and former Bills’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine are only a day short, but that game, given the proximity of Cleveland, will likely be an easy sellout as will the nationally-popular Packers two weeks later.

But three of Buffalo’s last four games are on the road, which is good news for selling seats. Unfortunately for coach Doug Marrone’s team, those road encounters are at Denver, Oakland and New England.

The NFL-mandated Thursday game for every league team sends the Bills to Miami to face the Dolphins on Nov. 13 (8:25 p.m.) But, for the fifth straight season, Buffalo has neither a Sunday or Monday night game ... unless it earns one of the former later in the season via “flex scheduling.”

That rumored Monday nighter hosting Green Bay clearly was just that ... and there’s no indication where it came from.

DID THE NFL add Kansas City to the AFC East and forget to tell us?

How about the odds of the Bills playing the Chiefs for a seventh straight season?

Speaking of Oakland, Buffalo hasn’t won there in 48 years and has lost seven straight to the Raiders in that city plus two of the three those teams played in Los Angeles.

Strength of schedule?

Not bad.

The combined records of Buffalo’s foes is .500, 14th toughest in the league ... about in the middle. 

FINALLY, there’s the Thanksgiving game at Detroit that wasn’t.

In fairness, it’s easy to understand where that speculation came from.

Because it’s a CBS game, in past years, the foe had to be an AFC team (aside from the prime-time telecasts, FOX had the game when the visiting team was from the NFC and CBS when the road squad was from the AFC).

Hence, the Lions’ only options seemed to be either the Bills or Dolphins.

But, alas, this year, for the first time since the AFL-NFL merger, an AFC team won’t play on Thanksgiving.

This season, the NFL has adopted  “cross flex” games between CBS and FOX in order to create more appealing TV pairings, entice larger audiences and ultimately give the league more leverage in negotiating television contracts via increased ratings.

Pro football still is, after all, a business. 

(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor,  can be reached at cpollock@oleantimesherald.com)

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