Tonawanda News — ORCHARD PARK — 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."