Forget perspective, this week it’s obvious Bills fans are in need of therapy. Who better to provide that emotional support than me, your resident Detroit Lions fans and Buffalo Bills Outsider. It was only a week ago when everything was rainbows and unicorns. The Bills were 4-0. Josh Allen looked like an MVP candidate. The Stefon Diggs trade looked like a steal. Then, as 2020 has been wont to do, Covid showed up and ruined everything. First, the Titans were given an early bye week, and the NFL bent over backwards to reward them for their poor behavior. Then, the Chiefs were given two extra days to prepare for the Bills and the game was played in a monsoon. Now the Bills sit at 4-2. Josh Allen looks like JP Losman, and EJ Manuel had a love child. Stefon Diggs is loafing it back to the line of scrimmage.
It’s official. The sky is falling.
This week, there is no Good, Bad, or Ugly. There is no good; it’s all been bad, and it’s all been ugly. Believe me, I’ve been there. Like, for my entire life. I’m a Lions fan. Misery and pessimism are a way of life. I’ve been perusing social media and I’ve found a few consistent themes that I think Bills fans need to work through, and I’m here to help you.
Claim #1: Our Defense Sucks!
The Truth – yeah it does. I wish I had better news for you. I don’t know who kidnapped Leslie Frazier and replaced him with Matt Patricia, but this team hasn’t looked good defensively since Week 1…which was against the Jets, so it barely counts. It’s clear to me this team misses Jordan Phillips, and it was a huge mistake to let him go. He pushed the pocket as a pass rusher and clogged lanes in the running game. The run defense has been abysmal. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had been in a major funk and hadn’t rushed for more than 65 yards since Week 1. The Bills let him go off for 161 at over six yards a pop.
That said, there is still hope. There is still plenty of premium talent on this defense. The coaching staff, for the most part, has been consistently solid under McDermott’s watch. It’s fair to expect improvement. It’s a long season, and we’re coming off the weirdest off-season ever. I’ve mentioned in past Outsider columns how the league as a whole is on pace for a historically good offensive year, which also means a historically bad defensive year. The worst defense in the league right now is the unbeaten Seattle Seahawks, and it’s not particularly close. You can win in 2020 with a bad defense.
Claim #2: Josh Allen is Regressing
The Truth – I’m not buying it…at least not yet. You don’t accidentally stumble into four weeks of MVP level play. The schedule changes seem to have zapped some of the mojo the Bills had going. Last night, the rain played a major factor. Allen will have plenty more big games, and honestly, he should be the least of your worries as a Bills fan.
Allen will need to adjust in the coming weeks as teams are starting to play him differently. The Chiefs and Titans both successfully took away the big plays down the field and forced the Bills to drive the length of the field. Take what the defense gives you, don’t force the ball into coverage, and trust the players around you.
Claim #3: The Bills are Going to Miss the Playoffs!
The Truth: Maybe, but I doubt it. After they murder the Jets this weekend, they’ll be 5-2. Teams with a 5-2 record make the playoffs approximately 75% of the time. When you figure in that we’ll now see seven playoff teams per conference instead of six, the odds only get better. I know the schedule is tough, but everybody’s schedule is tough in the NFL. I still see 10 wins on the schedule for Buffalo, which would almost assuredly put them in the playoffs.
Claim #4: We’re Not Even Going to Win the AFC East!
The Truth: Step back from that ledge, my friend. You’re still firmly in the driver’s seat. The Dolphins are currently in second place in the East, and they just announced Tua Tagovailoa will be taking over starting QB duties from Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’s a puzzling move, as Fitzy has been playing really well and has the Dolphins in serious playoff contention. Rookie QBs generally struggle, and I expect Tua will show plenty of promise, but Fitzpatrick gives them the best chance to win now.
The Patriots are sitting at 2-3 and coming off a loss that is more embarrassing than the one the Bills just suffered. They have plenty of tough games left as well. The Pats need to go 8-3 the rest of the way to win the East, with games still to play against the Bills (2), Ravens, Niners, Rams, and Cardinals. They do have two games against the Jets which should be wins, but I see this team topping out at 9-7.
Claim #5: We’re Basically the Detroit Lions of the AFC!
The Truth: Okay, so I made this one up. No one is actually stupid enough to claim the Bills are in any way as bad as the Lions.
That’s all the time we have for this therapy session. Even though things seem bleak today, in a few days, you’ll look at the standings and notice you’re 5-2. Most teams in the NFL will envy you. You’ll realize you have one the bright young stars in the game at QB, and most teams in the NFL will envy you. You’ll be firmly in control of your own destiny in your division, and most teams will envy you.
Most teams will envy you, but not us. Not the Detroit Lions. We don’t envy winners because we know the truth. Winners don’t get to pick in the top five of the draft every year.