Bills face watered-down Seahawks in Week 1

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
The NFL has mulled the possibility of adding real games to the schedule and scaling back the preseason.

Nobody has mentioned adding a fifth exhibition game, but the Buffalo Bills might enjoy the next best thing when they host the short-handed Seattle Seahawks next Sunday.

With all the reserves the NFC West favorites will be forced to play, it might seem like a quasi-preseason game for the Bills and dinged QB Trent Edwards, who could use a little extra prep time.

The obliging Seahawks on Saturday announced they were suspending starting DT Rocky Bernard and nickel back Jordan Babineaux for the opener.

Seattle's lineup will be held together with spit and scotch tape when they pull into Orchard Park, N.Y.

They already were without top WR Bobby Engram (94 catches and 1,147 yards last year), who will miss at least the first two games with a broken shoulder bone. WR Deion Branch (49 catches, 661 yards) hasn't practiced yet because of offseason reconstructive knee surgery. WR Ben Obomanu broke his collarbone in Friday night's preseason finale and was placed on injured reserve.

Not enough decimation for you, Bills fans? Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck has been dealing with a stiff back. Pro Bowl MLB Lofa Tatupu has a minor knee injury. Both are likely to play, but RT Sean Locklear is questionable with a bum knee.

Edwards will take all the help he can get.

He has shown aptitude in picking up new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert's system, but the second-year pro from Stanford has played only four preseason series. Edwards sat out the final two exhibitions because of a deep quadriceps bruise.

And with Seattle's decimated receiving corps, Buffalo's defense should be able to tee off on RB Julius Jones, who's running behind a line that's not nearly as imposing as the one that made Shaun Alexander an MVP three years ago.

As Bob Matthews of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle pointed out a few days ago, victories on opening day are important. He cited Pro Football Prospectus for this nugget: only 24.7 percent of teams that lose in Week 1 have made the playoffs since 1990, while 54.3 percent of teams that win in Week 1 reach the postseason.