I realize this is a small sample size, but the 2013 draft may be one of the best drafts the Bills have ever had. Certainly the best in recent memory. Just between EJ, Robert Woods, and Kiko we have three of the hottest rookies in the league, and they will only get better. Beating the Ravens means that HOLY CRAP we CAN beat quality teams. The crazy part is that you can tell we’re still ironing out some creases in this team. The Bills are still growing, learning, and evolving week by week. As long as we continue to trend in a positive direction, the possibilities become fun to imagine. You know, if we were in the NFC East we’d be tied for first! Unfortunately we’re stuck where we are in the AFC East with the Patsies, but I’m convinced their decline will start soon. Maybe not THIS year, but soon. Hopefully the Bills are the team that rises to replace them. Time for us to shine in prime time against Cleveland!
As for the rest of the league, the craziness that is the NFL continues. Some teams seem to be settling in at the top and the bottom. It’s the middle that’s in strong contention.
1. Denver Broncos (same): Peyton Manning. Broncos defense. Special teams. Breaking records like a broken record.
2. Seattle Seahawks (same): It really shouldn’t have taken more than 60 minutes for the Seahawks to put the Texans away, but it did. Russell Wilson had one of his worst days through the air, too. Everyone has a bad day, though, and they still got the win. The Colts pose a tougher challenge than some might think this week.
3. New Orleans Saints (same): Thanks to the Saints, the Dolphins are no longer undefeated. They have one of the most explosive offenses in the league, and their defense is holding up their end of the bargain rather well. This week that explosive offense takes on the Bears high-scoring defense. That’s one to watch.
4. New England Patriots (+4): Stupid Patriots. Now that they’ve actually beaten a typically strong team, it’s hard to put them any lower than this. They’ve looked strong recently, and are still without Gronk and Amendola. If they make their way back… *shudder*.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (+2): That’s right, the worst team from last year is now ranked in the top 5. Alex Smith deserves so much credit for proving himself a true starter in this league. Everyone claimed that it was Harbaugh’s system in San Francisco that made Smith good, but those doubters are shutting up pretty fast. The only thing is they haven’t really played against any “elite” teams yet. That trend continues against the upstart Titans this week.
6. Green Bay Packers (same): I hope that Bye Week was well used. They’ve returned from vacation to battle the current leader of the NFC North: the Detroit Lions (last in the division in 2012). It’s hard not to call this a must win, even though it’s early.
7. Chicago Bears (-2): I’m giving the Bears a bit of a pass, because the Lions played a tremendous game. Amazingly, Cutler found someone to throw to other than Brandon Marshall. Unfortunately for the Bears, the Saints are marching in, and they look much better than the Lions.
8. San Francisco 49ers (+3): Good on the Niners for getting that monkey off their back and beating the Rams for the first time since 2011. They also won convincingly behind their defense and Frank Gore. Kaepernick still hasn’t shown anything close to the fireworks from Week 1, but this was progression. They get the Texans next, another 2-2 team who feels like they have something to prove.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (-5): Ouch. The Bengals drop far for this one, considering they lost to the Browns in what may prove a key divisional game. Luckily for them, no one else in their division is better than 2-2. PLEASE let them beat the Patriots!
10. Houston Texans (same): This seems like one of the few teams that can really identify with us Bills fans this year. It seems like every game is a heart attack for the Texans in 2013, and they aren’t always going their way. Losing to the Seahawks in OT is understandable, but giving up such a large lead is NOT. If they want to hang around in the top 10, they need to win these close games more often.
11. Detroit Lions (+4): Who knew these guys would roll into Week 5 on top of their division? Good things happen when Reggie Bush can run the ball. They can take command of the NFC North with a win over the Packers this week. That would also put them 3-0 in divisional games.
12. Indianapolis Colts (+2): Beating the Jaguars was a given, so I can’t bump them up too far. They’ve got to be happy with Trent Richardson, though. If they want to break the top 10, though, they need to beat Seattle.
13: Atlanta Falcons (same): I think the loss to the Patriots just legitimizes the Falcons’ placement here. I remain adamant that this is a quality team (and holy crap, will Tony Gonzales tell us where he’s hiding the fountain of youth please). If the Falcons can’t handle the Jets on Monday Night Football, however… it will truly be the time to panic.
14. San Diego Chargers (+2): Philip Rivers has been the sleeper pick of fantasy football this year. So this is what happens when Antonio Gates and Ryan Mathews stay healthy! I would say that this week’s match against Oakland is an auto-win, but crazy things happen in divisional games. The Chargers NEED to win this to stay in the hunt for a wild card (since that’s all they can hope for in the AFC West).
15. Baltimore Ravens (-6): Super Bowl, Schmuper Bowl. WE WIN! HAHA! Ever since letting Anquan Boldin go during the offseason, I’ve begun to seriously question the sanity of John Harbaugh. Against our (admittedly young) scrappy defense, Harbaugh decided the best gameplan was to just throw the ball a lot. We saw how that went. Hopefully they learn their lesson fast, because I’d like to keep the Dolphins on a losing streak this week.
16. Miami Dolphins (-4): Speaking of which, it was good to see the fish show their true colors on national TV. That allegedly improved defense did NOTHING against the Saints. Granted, that’s one of the best offenses in the league that slapped them around so badly, but still. What would this team look like if it still had Reggie Bush and Brandon Marshall?
17. Tennessee Titans (+1): OH OH OH FITZMAGIC! YOU KNOOOOOOWW! Ok, let’s not get too excited. The Titans are a shocking 3-1 (although they haven’t exactly been toppling “titans” themselves. Losing Jake Locker may or may not be a good thing. It really depends on which Ryan Fitzpatrick they get.
18. Buffalo Bills (+3): BOO-YAH! Ok, so I’d rather we didn’t squander the lead like we did, but beating the Ravens is pretty huge. We are working our way through EJ’s growing pains with some success, so that’s good. As long as that stuff gets worked out sooner than later, we might have a shot at the postseason this year. I just wish the Browns weren’t looking as good as they are right now.
19. Carolina Panthers (-2): Even though they were in a Bye Week, the Panthers drop because the only team they’ve managed to beat is one of the league’s worst (the Giants). Freshly rested, the Panthers get what should be an easy game against the Cardinals to get their confidence back up.
20. Cleveland Browns (+5): I sure didn’t see that coming. The Browns drop Trent Richardson, switch to Brian Hoyer, and win two straight. Wow. I’m fine with them winning 11 more, as long as they don’t win THIS week.
21. Dallas Cowboys (-2): Wheeeeee! Romo-Coaster! Oddly, this is their week to perform well… and they get the Broncos. Awwww. Romo sad.
22. New York Jets (-2): Does anyone else love watching Geno Smith become a turnover machine? You do? Me too. 2 picks and 2 fumbles lost on Sunday. I’d love for him to continue that sort of play.
23. Arizona Cardinals (+1): A 4th quarter comeback requiring 2 picks from Patrick Peterson… against the Bucs no less? Not super impressive. Still, the Cards are 2-2. Not terrible. Carson Palmer just seems to get worse every week, though.
24. Philadelphia Eagles (-2): After such an explosive start to Week 1, I think a lot of people kept the Eagles higher than they deserved. After four weeks, though, we come to realize that the Eagles have only beat the Redskins (who are proving to be pretty terrible). This week doesn’t offer much of an opportunity to improve their standing, as they face the even more depressing Giants.
25. St. Louis Rams (-2): Sam Bradford and his receivers better be practicing on their off-time this week, because something is wrong there. Bradford is making some pretty clutch throws, and he’s getting next to NO help. On the bright side, they get the Jaguars this week! Yay! Rebound game!
26. Washington Redskins (+1): Hey! The Redskins figured out how to beat someone! They STILL had to go down by multiple scores in the first half before remembering how to play football, but they got the win. It’s safe to say that this is NOT the way the Redskins wanted to go into the Bye Week, but here they are. The time for Griffin to heal will be valuable, at least.
27. Minnesota Vikings (+3): Look who else won a game! In London, no less! Pip pip, cheerio! Ahem… pardon me. I don’t know what came over me. So the Vikings also get their bye week, and it looks like Matt Cassel is getting another chance to succeed.
28. Oakland Raiders (-2): 14 points in the first quarter, and then NOTHING. Oh right. Matt Flynn. What did I say about Terrelle Pryor’s durability? This team just got a little worse, and it was already pretty bad.
29. New York Giants (-1): Do you think Tom Coughlin will even let his players leave the facility this week? It might be a good idea to just detain them and practice the whole time. Did you see Eli Manning’s deep interception he threw with ZERO blue jerseys within 20 yards of it? It was pretty much a metaphor for their first four weeks. That defense better work on their cardio, because the Eagles are coming to town.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers (-1): After the long trip to London (and a subsequent loss), what else do you do but go on a Bye Week? It’s hard to point to any one thing that’s wrong with the Steelers. You look at the roster and they have good players. Somehow no one is making plays. That defense got TORCHED by Matt Cassell. For shame.
31. Tampa Bay Bucanneers (same): Wow, it’s like all the bad teams got Week 5 as a Bye. Lots of time to think, I suppose. Kind of depressing, actually. On the bright side, it looks like Mike Glennon has some potential. He better, because Josh Freeman is DONE with Tampa Bay.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (same): For the second consecutive game, the Jaguars opponent rested their starters in the 4th quarter. It’s that bad.