Last week I wrote about how this Bills team reminded me of the 1988 version of the Buffalo Bills. That team proved to be the team who represented a pivotal turning point from a team who endured years of futility to one that grew into the greatest teams the Bills have ever produced.
Sure, last week the Bills were crushed by the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome (or whatever corporate sponsor they are calling it now). The Bills were physically battered to shreds, and endured a physical beat down that would have made most teams give up and want to head for the bus by halftime.
Just witnessing Thad Lewis go down on the first play of the game was painful to watch. I would guess that most of BillsMafia and Bills Nation felt like I did… and thought that would be the end of the season for Mr. Lewis. The hit he took reminded me of the hit Ryan Fitzpatrick took in Toronto by London Fletcher a couple of years ago. It was definitely meant to send a message; “not in “our” house”.
However, once again this team showed some signs of something we haven’t seen since the change started in ’88. Despite the sheer brutality the Saints inflicted upon the Bills, this Bills team did not roll over and check out when it became obvious they likely had little chance to win the game.
There is no doubt that the Saints are a far superior team in terms of talent than this year’s version of the Buffalo Bills. The sad truth is that this year’s Bills are basically running an offense with a turnstile at QB never seen before by this franchise. There have been so many QBs in and out of the lineup that opponents need a roster guide to identify who will be playing behind center for the Bills on any given week.
That stated, once again instead of giving up and rolling over, this team showed grit. They did not give up. They gave it their all for all four quarters, something as fans we have not seen for a very long time.
I fully expect the same effort on Sunday when the Bills face the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs at The Ralph. Though KC is undefeated, I believe that last year’s 2-14 Chiefs were not as bad as their record indicated, and this year’s team is not as good as their undefeated 8-0 record.
No doubt KC has an excellent defense and will test the battered and bruised Bills offense. They will likely be equally as physically brutal as the Saints and attempt to beat the Bills into submission until they roll over and give up. With so many injuries, any team would be wise to go after this vulnerable offense filled with players who have barely been able to walk off the field in one piece.
However, all good things eventually almost always come to an end when undefeated teams go deep into the season. With the exception of the early 70’s Dolphins who remain the only team to win every single game of their season, teams generally fall victim to the weight of the pressure to remain undefeated at some point.
I believe this might just be the week that KC goes into the loss column for the first time this season. The Bills are at home, and they have far less pressure on them than the Chiefs do to continue their unbeaten streak. The Bills are a young team learning how to win close games, and they have just enough moxy to believe that they can be the ones who put an end to KC’s unbeaten streak.
No matter how much a coach or player might try to tell themselves that they must remain hungry dogs for each game, it’s human nature for unbeaten teams to slowly begin to believe the hype. The challenge to remain unbeaten creeps into their brain no matter how hard they try to put it in perspective.
The other reason it becomes a heavier burden each week is that as we all know, the pigskin does funny things when it bounces on (and off) the turf. To some degree, luck is involved as the primary difference between winning and losing. Simply by the random happenings of the universe, luck will challenge every unbeaten team increasingly as they move throughout the season. Sooner or later that big bad boogeyman will rear his ugly head and take down those who believe they are destined never to fail.
Yes, my belief is that the KC Chiefs are not as good a team as their record indicates, nor are the Bills as bad a team as their record indicates. Once again, I believe the primary key to this game will rely upon the defense to do to Alex Smith what the Saints did to Thad Lewis. It is the Bills defense who will have to lead the way in refusing to give in to the punishment inflicted upon them.
The Bills defense must be the punisher in this game. They must take this game upon themselves and score points off turnovers. Alex Smith is a wily guy who doesn’t throw many INTs, but that could all change with a defense determined to strip him down to his jock strap and crack him time after time after time like the Saints did to Thad Lewis.
The Ralph needs to be rocking in a way it has not since the glory years. The 12th man MUST help this defense get their job done. Most of the veterans who know what it takes to be a playoff team are on the defensive side of the ball, even though they are collectively just as inexperienced in getting to the playoffs as the offense.
They need to step up and show this neophyte offense how to get the job done. The offense cannot continue to make mistakes which force the defense to play beyond their physical limits. They cannot turn the ball over and force the defense to keep KC’s offense from scoring when they turn the ball over in the opponent’s red zone.
Furthermore, Coach Crossman has to stop reminding Bills fans of the reincarnation of Ronnie Jones. There are no excuses for the mental lapses which have caused this Special Teams unit to make Bills fans close their eyes and hold their breath on every kick off. Brian Moorman and Dan Carpenter cannot be the only guys who are consistently doing their job well on Special Teams.
So, with some random luck, a relentless defense, a loud crowd, and an offense and special teams who are willing to do what it takes to limit horrible mistakes, this Bills fan BILLieves that the KC Chiefs are ripe for the picking. Somebody is going to take that team down. Why NOT the Buffalo Bills?