Niagara Gazette

Sports

November 28, 2013

Bills lose edge hosting Falcons indoors at Toronto

Bills lose edge hosting Falcons indoors at Toronto

Niagara Gazette — ORCHARD PARK — Bills receiver Stevie Johnson has a bone to pick with the NFL schedule maker.

With temperatures dropping and snow piling up outside the team’s facility, Johnson wondered who had the bright idea to have Buffalo (4-7) “host” the warm-weather Atlanta Falcons (2-9) inside the climate-controlled confines of Toronto’s Rogers Centre on Sunday.

“Yeah, they must have fixed the schedule or something out there in Atlanta. It’s supposed to be out here at the Ralph,” Johnson said Wednesday, referring to the Bills home, Ralph Wilson Stadium. “Who put the schedule together to have them come to Toronto?”

Johnson and his teammates are finding themselves at a sudden disadvantage as Buffalo prepares for its annual trip north of the border to resume the “Bills in Toronto” series, which was first established in 2008 and renewed for another five years in January.

The Falcons have been eliminated from playoff contention. The Bills come off their bye week still on the fringes of the AFC postseason hunt. They’re 3-3 at Orchard Park, including a decisive 37-14 win over the New York Jets on Nov. 17.

“It is what it is,” Johnson said. “We can’t really make excuses for it. We can’t complain about it. We just got to go out and try to handle business.”

An added wrinkle to the game is news that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment — the company that controls the Leafs and NBA Raptors — has aligned itself with New Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi to make a push to bring an NFL franchise to Toronto. One logical option would be the Bills.

In establishing the series, the Bills turned to their neighbors to the north in a bid to expand their region.

The deal provides the Bills a much-needed boost to their small-market franchise’s revenue base by essentially leasing out a home game to Canadian communications giant, Rogers Communications.

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