September 27, 2011
The Buffalo Bills are 3-0. They've won their last two games by overcoming double-digit deficits at home to the Oakland Raiders (2-1) and New England Patriots (2-1). They broke a 15-game losing streak to the Pats in the process.
So, why am I still having a hard time believing that these Bills are better than the past 11 Bills teams?
Maybe it's because when I look at their starting offense, I can't help but think, "Who are these guys? Ryan Fitzpatrick? Fred Jackson? Stevie Johnson?" Yet, Fitzpatrick has been one of the best quarterbacks from a statistical standpoint in the NFL since the middle of last season. Jackson is among the league leaders in rushing, and Johnson has stopped dropping passes and started scoring touchdowns.
Maybe it's because the Bills defense has allowed 66 points over the last two games. Yet in its 34-31 victory over New England Sunday, Buffalo allowed only 10 points in the second half. Holding Tom Brady and company to 10 points in any half is a tough task, and the Bills managed to do it in time to pull out the victory. Heck, they even scored a defensive touchdown when Drayton Florence (who??) intercepted Brady and returned it 27 yards for six points. (FYI: That was one of four picks Brady threw.)
Or maybe it's because Buffalo has been down this road before. The Bills opened the 2008 season by winning five of their first six games, which caused Buffalonians to start fantasizing about a playoff berth. Then, the Bills lost eight of their last 10 games to finish below .500 and extend their streak of non-playoff years to nine.
That streak is now at 11 years and counting, unless Buffalo can keep its momentum going through the rest of this season. The winning streak should continue Sunday when the Bills meet the hapless Cincinnati Bengals (1-2), but things get complicated after that. Buffalo still has to face the New York Jets twice, get through a rematch with New England out in Foxboro, play San Diego and maneuver through the rock-em, sock-em NFC East. Not exactly a cream puff schedule, is it?
Still a 3-0 team in the NFL makes the playoffs 75 percent of the time, and that's where the Buffalo Bills are -- along with the Detroit Lions and the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. That is a statistic that is hard to ignore.
However, I won't be surprised if the Buffalo Bills find a way to miss the playoffs again. These are the Bills we're talking about, after all. They have a history of making the improbable look possible -- both for good and for bad.