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The Buffalo Bills Outsider: Unfamiliar Territory

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Well, that was surprisingly easy. The Bills had very little to play for, rested a few key players, and pulled most of their stars by halftime. The Dolphins were desperate and had their playoff hopes squarely on the line. The Bills would have been quickly forgiven for losing this game. But the Bills didn’t just win on Sunday. They ripped the hearts right out of the Dolphins’ chests. It was a little like this:

What you saw yesterday was the Bills entrenching themselves as the alpha dogs of the division. They lifted their legs and marked their territory. The AFC East belongs to the Bills for the foreseeable future.  

Normally, my job here as the Buffalo Bills Outsider is to provide you with perspective from a fan of a long-suffering team, to lift you up during bad times and remind you it could always be worse, to celebrate with you during good times and remind you to appreciate it. But now that the regular season is complete, I find myself in unfamiliar territory. Usually, the season ends, and I start preparing for the NFL Draft; and every few seasons I have the added gift of a coaching search and renewed faith that the Lions might actually decide to crawl out of the NFL dumpster one of these days. But here you are, Bills fans, entering the playoffs on a massive hot streak. Your QB is an MVP-candidate. You have home-field advantage through the first two rounds. You’re legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Like Philip Rivers and pulling out, it’s a feeling I’ve never experienced. 

Three Unbiased Opinions

1) The Bills Look Ready

They were so close in Houston last year. They dominated the Texans for three quarters and then the game slipped away. Sometimes crushing losses demoralize a team. Other times, they light a fire in you that can’t be quenched. It’s been clear since Week 1 that the 2020 version of Bills has been on a mission since that fateful day in Houston last January. They’ve been preparing for this moment for an entire year. They are playing with swag, stepping on throats, and crushing souls. As an unbiased observer, I say this with all honesty: the Bills, not the Chiefs, are the one team in the NFL I would least want to play right now. 

2) The Best WR Corps in the League

Coming into the year, we all knew the Bills had good weapons. The addition of Stefon Diggs was huge, and all he did was lead the league in catches and receiving yards. But the depth of the weapons in the Bills’ arsenal is scary. You’ve got a superstar in Diggs, a slot ninja in Cole Beasley, a speed demon in John Brown, and a rookie sensation in Gabriel Davis. If that’s not enough, Isaiah McKenzie scored three TDs against the Dolphins when given the opportunity to play starter’s snaps. The tight ends also combined for nine touchdown receptions on the season. 

The truly scary thing is that the Bills haven’t had their full complement of weapons during this hot streak. John Brown has been limited by a variety of issues and missed seven games this season. Now that he’s back, Cole Beasley is on the shelf. It hasn’t mattered. Oh, and now it sounds like veteran Kenny Stills is being added to the roster. Good luck trying to cover all of these guys. 

3) The Colts Should Be Scared

The Bills got a fortunate bounce yesterday when Titans’ kicker Sam Sloman doinked in the winning FG. That kick gave the Titans the AFC South title and the #4 seed and sent the Colts to Buffalo next weekend. Buffalo is better than either team, but any time you can avoid Derrick Henry, it’s a good thing. 

The Colts are a solid team. They run the ball, play good defense, and have a veteran QB who’s been in plenty of playoff games before. But it’s hard to find an area where the Colts have a distinct advantage. They aren’t likely to beat themselves, but they’re not explosive. Rivers has been around the block a few times, but he’s essentially a statue in the pocket, and you have to wonder how well he’ll play in the January cold of Buffalo. Winter isn’t usually kind to the joints of the elderly. 

The Bills also have home-field advantage with, wait for it….fans! For the first time all season, a small number of fans will be allowed into Bills Stadium for the playoffs. I expect they will bring a ton of energy even if it’s only 6,700 people, which coincidentally, is about the same number of kids that Philip Rivers has. Add it all up, and it amounts to a Bills victory this weekend. Book it.

One Last Thought…

The Lions’ year is now (mercifully) over, but what Detroit season would be complete with a complete screw job by the referees? Leading by two points in the fourth quarter, the Vikings faced a 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Mike Zimmer decided to go for it, and the Lions came with a blitz and sacked Kirk Cousins … except a penalty flag came out, and we witnessed one of the worst calls of all time. 

Enjoy.

When asked about it after the game, referee Adrian Hill (who threw the flag) doubled down and said it was “clear cut.” The announcing crew for Fox hated the call. Rules analyst Dean Blandino was brought in and said it was a poor call. Mike Pereria weighed in on Twitter, agreed with Blandino, and said there was no roughing, calling it “a normal tackle.” Seemingly every football fan who saw the play has taken to social media, calling it one of the worst calls they’ve ever seen. As Lions fans, we call it a typical Sunday. 

Good luck in the playoffs, Buffalo!

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