The Bills welcome the playoff-contending Seattle Seahawks (8-5) to Toronto for a "home game" about a 2-hour ride north of Buffalo.
Buffalo comes into the game at 5-8, having suffered a tough loss at home to the St. Louis Rams 15-12. The Bills have played .500 at home (3-3), though you wonder how much "home" Toronto will be. Buffalo is 2-5 on the road.
If the season were to end today, Seattle would be one of the wild cards at 8-5. The Seahawks came off a 58-0 smashing of Arizona at home last Sunday. Seattle is perfect at home but also 2-5 on the road. Both teams are 1-2 in non-conference action.
Seattle is the first border opponent to play the Bills in Canada. The Seahawks have a Canadian fan base as well, though not as intense in numbers as the Bills have from across the border.
We were hoping for some crazy "don't have a passport" stories, but you would hope that Seattle Seahawks players, being so close to Canada, would have passports.
Those Seahawks fans watching from the Vancouver area and on Vancouver Island should have an extra sense of pride viewing their team in their own country.
Two Seattle players have a connection to Canada. Seahawks punter Jon Ryan is from Regina. Ryan has been in the NFL for 7 years, 2 with Green Bay and the last 5 with Seattle. He went to the University of Regina and played two years with the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Browner is in his second season with Seattle, but spent 4 seasons with the Calgary Stampeders. Browner won't play on Sunday because he is serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
Browner was a 3-time CFL All-Star and won a Grey Cup with Calgary in 2008.
As a contrast, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson makes only his second trip to Canada — yes, he's been to Vancouver.
Fox will carry the game for the third year in a row. The NFL has scheduled three straight NFC teams, and the road team network broadcasts non-conference games. Dick Stockton will handle play-by-play along with colo(u)r commentator John Lynch and sideline reporter Jennifer Hale.
City TV will carry Fox's feed across Canada. Rogers Sportsnet East will cover those areas not served by City TV. In Toronto, you can watch CITY-TV 57. For those that can get the Buffalo signal, you can watch on Fox 29 WUTV Buffalo. U.S. viewers in Western New York and the Pacific Northwest can watch on their Fox affiliate, including Seattle's Q13, KCPQ. Houston, Miami, Jacksonville, and Baltimore will also get this game, in great part because the Fox stations in those markets are forced to carry the late game. Check the link for any last-minute updates to the map.
Mostly due to a cut in price, the game is (virtually) sold out. For TV purposes, the Bills games in Toronto are considered sold out so the game isn't blacked out locally.
The Bills have struggled with blackouts lately, narrowly missing one last week thanks to a Buffalo restaurant owner buying up 10,000 tickets for the St. Louis game.
This game is on the verge of a sellout, mostly because the ticket prices were cut by as much as half. The other games drew on average about 50,000 people, so we'll wait to see how the attendance turns out.
The interest may be higher because a) Bills didn't play a pre-season game in Toronto because of a scheduling conflict; b) fans want to see if the Grey Cup/Argonauts championship can rub off on Buffalo; c) To send out the last game as a winner before a new potential 5-year deal is signed; and d) the Bills actually won the last game in the Toronto series for the first time; and e) Toronto winter sports fans are massively suffering with the inept Raptors and the invisible Maple Leafs.
The hope in a new 5-year deal is that after the $78 million Rogers Communications paid to the Bills for the first series, the company will be less greedy about the ticket prices and makes these NFL regular season games more accessible to the Western New York/Southern Ontario NFL fan.
Speculation is that the Buffalo Bills will sign another five-year deal with Toronto, but only when their own stadium lease back in Orchard Park is done.
Buffalo Bills in Toronto (regular season)
|December 7, 2008||Miami||Buffalo||16-3|
|December 3, 2009||New York Jets||Buffalo||19-13|
|November 7, 2010||Chicago||Buffalo||22-19|
|October 30, 2011||Buffalo||Washington||23-0|
Buffalo Bills in Toronto (preseason)
|August 14, 2008||Buffalo||Pittsburgh||24-21|
|August 19, 2010||Buffalo||Indianapolis||34-21|