When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. PT, Rogers Centre, Toronto
Record: 5-8 after Sunday’s 15-12 loss to the Rams in Buffalo
Where they rank: No. 20 on offense (6th rushing, 25th passing); No. 21 on defense (28th rushing, 14th passing)
TV: Fox (KCPQ/13 in the greater Seattle area), with Dick Stockton, John Lynch and Jennifer Hale
Series: Seahawks lead 6-5, but the Bills have won the past two including a 34-10 victory in Buffalo in the 2008 season opener
Star power: Leodis McKelvin. Usually when a special teams performer is the pick here it’s an indication of how the season is going for the team. That is the case for the disappointing Bills, but McKelvin would rate this selection even if his team was playing better and winning more. He leads the NFL with an 18.7-yard average returning punts, including 88- and 79-yarders for touchdowns among his league-leading 20 returns of 20-plus yards. He’s also fifth in the league in kickoff return average (28.3). McKelvin is the only returner in the league to rank among the Top 5 in both categories and will present another stiff challenge for the Seahawks’ No. 3-ranked special teams that have not yielded a punt return or kickoff return of more than 40 yards.
Unsung hero: Scott Chandler. Stevie Johnson leads the Bills with 61 receptions, which makes him a leading candidate for this spot. But Chandler, a sixth-year tight end, leads the team with six touchdowns catches among his 37 receptions. He also has the best per-catch average (13.2 yards) among the Bills’ receivers with more than five receptions. The 6-foot-7 Chandler had what was considered a breakthrough season in 2011, catching 38 passes and scoring six TDs. So he is continuing to break on through to the other side. Honorable mention to former Washington State University kicker Rian Lindell, who has missed only once all season (19 of 20 on field goals, 32 of 32 on PATs).
On the spot: Chan Gailey. Perhaps “on the hot seat” would be a better description of where the Bills’ third-year coach finds himself after an offseason of heightened expectations has morphed into what likely will be a 13th consecutive season without a trip to the postseason for a franchise that went to four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-94. Columnist Jerry Sullivan put it this way in Monday’s edition of the Buffalo News: “I’m finished with Gailey. The mind-numbing decisions have been piling up for two months, but enough is enough. Sunday’s 15-12 loss to the Rams cinched it. Gailey is over his head as an NFL head coach. He should be fired.” So much for pulling any punches.
Burning question: Is this the week C.J. Spiller finally becomes the feature back? The fans have been clamoring for more of Spiller, and more from Spiller. But Gailey wanted a back-by-committee approach with Spiller spelling starter Fred Jackson. But with Jackson out for the remainder of the season after spraining his right knee against the Rams on Sunday – he also missed the final six games last season with a broken leg – it’s Spiller time. Again. He leads the Bills in rushing yards (944), average yards per carry (6.6) and rushing touchdowns (five), and he’s tied for fourth in receptions (34).
Numbers to know: 15-30, Gailey’s record with the Bills. … 5, the fifth consecutive season the Bills will play one of their “home” games in Toronto. … 56, points scored by the Seahawks against the Bills in 1977. It had been the franchise record for 35 years before the Seahawks hung 58 on the Cardinals on Sunday. … 10.5, sacks by defensive end Mario Williams, the Bills’ big free-agent acquisition during the offseason. … 6, times the Bills have scored fewer than 20 points in losing six of their past nine games. … 119, points allowed by the Bills in the fourth quarter which, unbelievably, is not the most points yielded by any team in any quarter. It’s only eighth behind the Raiders (139 in the third), Titans (131 in the first), Colts (131 in the second), Lions (131 in the fourth), Eagles (124 in the fourth), Jaguars (124 in the fourth) and Redskins (123 in the fourth).
Familiar faces: In addition to Lindell, who also kicked for the Seahawks from 2000-02 and is from Vancouver, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was the Seahawks’ starter last season and wide receiver Ruvell Martin was with the Seahawks in 2010. Special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven held the same position with the Seahawks from 2007-09. Tight ends coach Pete Metzelaars played the position for the Seahawks from 1982-84 and came up with one of the more memorable quotes in franchise history in 1988 after joining the Bills: “The tight end can go an entire season in Seattle and the only thing he’ll catch is a cold.”
The last word: “I don’t want to make excuses. We’re not getting the job done. And I’m responsible. I expect us to do better. And I plan for us to do better.” – Gailey on Monday
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