Buffalo Bills first place in AFC East? Yes, next week as well!

ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 15: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers escapes pressure during NFL game action from Kyle Williams #95 of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

So, last week, my opening day address, my first article of the 2017 NFL season, got sent to the ashcan of history because of some technical difficulties at our end here at BillsMafia.com. Big apologies.

No worries. It was mostly a retelling of the endless off-season countdowns to opening day.

Opening day has now come, and gone.

And the Buffalo Bills are alone in first place in the AFC East. (I bet you hadn’t heard that this week at all!)

So, what does that actually mean? Well, not much, really.

It means the Bills beat one of the AFCE teams, a team they should have beat, the New York Jets. It means the favored team, the Patriots, got caught off-guard, and it might be the only game they lose this year. (Maybe – see below) And oh yes, the Miami Dolphins did not play last week.

Should we, the fans, allow ourselves to eat the cake, so to speak?

Well, let’s put down the fork a minute. Here’s what we need to keep in mind, from a pessimist’s point of view:

Photo of S Jordan Poyer from buffalonews.com.

• 1. It was the New York Jets. Yes, the Jets didn’t show up and fold into the tank on opening day, but, they are not a very good football team.

• 2. That’s it. That’s what I’ve got. Sure, the Bills made some mistakes, but so did every other NFL team… it was week one. Tyrod Taylor threw a sure TD pass a little behind Clay, but Clay should have caught it for the touchdown, eliminating the interception.

Taylor could have maybe held on to the ball a little longer on a couple drop backs. But you know what? He wasn’t getting sacked like the rest of the NFL quarterbacks in week one. Buffalo’s offensive line makes us nervous, often making Taylor have to adjust his plans. But, thankfully, we have Tyrod Taylor back there, and not Tom Savage, Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Mike Glennon, Scott Tolzien, Blake Bortles, Brian Hoyer… or Josh McCown. Those were the starting quarterbacks last week, who could not get out of their own way, choosing instead to take sacks, or throw interceptions.

With the state of offensive lines in the NFL (there just aren’t enough good offensive linemen coming out of college prepared for NFL play), the Buffalo Bills are lucky to have a playmaker like Tyrod Taylor right now.

He’s not Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or any of the other first-tier quarterbacks in the league. And yes, the front office needs to pursue the plan they have for getting one of those.

But, considering the quality of athletic defensive linemen in the league, and the shortage of quality offensive linemen (this Bills team included), we need a playmaker like Tyrod Taylor. He extends drives, he gets first downs. He puts the team in positions for scoring. Right now, I’ll take that.

Musings From Around the NFL

Photo from funhitlist.com.

How great is it, that after so much discussion about whether or not the New England Patriots would go 19-0, they lose their first game – the first game of the NFL season.

It makes my heart smile every single time I think about it. I imagine it was a horrific week of meetings and practices this week, on the grass fields between Trader Joe’s and Bar Louie at Patriot Place. I can only expect the Patriots to rebound with a passing game in New Orleans today that will put up somewhere in the vicinity of 67 points. Too bad for them though, I expect Drew Brees and the Saints to put up something like 68 points on the Patriots defense.

Four of these eight teams will be 0-2 after tomorrow night: New England, New Orleans, Arizona, Indianapolis, Detroit, New York Giants, Seattle, or San Francisco. All of them, with the possible exception of Indianapolis, and the sure exception of San Francisco, began last week with playoff aspirations. Starting 0-2, the statisticians tell us, injures those aspirations…significantly. Oh, Cincinnati is already 0-2.

What I just wrote, does not of course apply to the Patriots.

What’s the chance the Rams, Jaguars, and Bills are 2-0 going into next weekend? I would say, respectively, good – possibly – stunningly.

We finally get to see what Miami and Tampa Bay look like. The football teams, I mean.

Fantasy Football Tips

Photo from canalstreetchronicles and USATODAY.com.

There is a treasure chest of points to be earned on the field in New Orleans on Sunday. Play Brady or Brees of course, and pick their receivers carefully. Hogan from the slot looks good for New England, and consider Colby Fleener, the TE from the Saints. If you own Michael Thomas though, he’s bank.

They say if Julio Jones has a down week, he explodes the next. And his cornerback matchups this week seem delicious. Just sayin’.

If you aren’t paying attention to Ty Montgomery, the running back in Green Bay, you should be.

Last Week

The Bills defeated the New York Jets, and took over sole possession of the lead in the AFC East, at least for one week.

The defense was sound, even very good at times. They still seem to have a very annoying habit of letting down for a complete series, usually the second or third series of the second half. This is one of those type of things that Coach McDermott vowed to change. Sunday would be a good time to start that.

The offense looked like most of us expected. Sustained drives, with mixed results at the end. The sustained drives is something good, or course. Tyrod Taylor knows how to get first downs. Before Taylor came along, Brian Moorman was the best known player on the team. The Bills have much fewer three-and-outs than they used to have.

That said, they need to fix the mixed results at the end of those sustained drives. Again, Coach McD… Sunday would be a good day to begin that.

This Week

Photo of Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey from fansided.com.

Today’s Bills opponent is the Carolina Panthers.

But, which Carolina Panthers do we speak of?

Is it the Super Bowl participants of two seasons ago – with the mega-talented NFL season MVP quarterback, or the incredibly disappointing losing team from last season – with the oh-so-pedestrian liability of an injured quarterback?

We don’t really know, because last week, the Panthers won their game, but does beating the San Francisco 49ers mean very much?

Of course, we can say the same about the Buffalo Bills, after their win against the Jets.

So, we have two enigmas facing off in a game that their respective fan bases are looking at with dire anticipation, each in search of finding a more true identity for their team.

Most football fans outside of these regional fan zones seem to be looking at this game from the perspective of a Super Bowl team taking on a gutter dwelling team.

I’m not.

Maybe the Panthers have returned to greatness, but we’ve really seen no proof of that, yet.

Last week’s article, had it been published, would have stated how the Bills really aren’t one of the horrific teams of the league, contrary to the opinions of short-sighted national writers and fans.

This game will be close. But, let me share with you a couple of thoughts.

When the Panthers have the ball: two words…Christian McCaffrey. The Jets exposed an area of weakness in the Bills defense, the short passing game. This is where McCaffrey lives and thrives.

I’m guessing coaches McDermott & Frazier are going to send combinations of Shaq Lawson, Jerry Hughes, and Lorenzo Alexander, in order to apply some pressure on Cam Newton, but, only 2 of them at a time. I think they will have Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus “hold-in-place”, taking up double teams and watching for Newton to try running. This will leave seven to defend the pass game. Let’s keep Ramon Humber glued to McCaffrey, shall we?

When the Bills have the ball: McCoy and Clay, do it again. Do it until someone stops them. There was an awful lot of whining in Buffalo this past week about the wide receivers not getting enough attention. Hey, if your opponents can’t cover the running back and tight end, you don’t force the ball to a rookie or an injured team newbie, and away from those opportunities. Do it again.

One more thing.

NFL assistant coaches study their own head coaches more than the other way around. I predict the student, McDermott, learned much from the teacher. If the Bills win on Sunday, there will be a lot of attention coming Sean McDermott’s way next week.

He won’t like that, but, he’ll take the win.

Buffalo 23 – Carolina 17

Enjoy the game – read me next week.

Editor’s babble: We apologize for our bumpy transition back to BillsMafia.com resulting in our inability to publish Rick Bates first post of the season. We’re grateful he’s back with us this season contributing to the blog. You can follow Rick on Twitter @MyHammock. 

5 Replies to “Buffalo Bills first place in AFC East? Yes, next week as well!”

  1. The other night while watching the Texans vs. the Bengals, Texan’s QB Deshaun Watson ran through the Bengal’s defense from midfield for an impressive TD. Chris Collinsworth was gushing like a schoolgirl over Watson saying that not many QBs in the league could make that run.
    I thought Tyrod Taylor can make that run. We’ve got that going for us.

  2. Can the Bills have a stellar performance against Cam and company? Cam is still coming along after his injury which means the Bills will see a heavy dose of J. Stewart and McCaffrey running the ball. He will mix in the short passes over the middle to TE Olsen (who didn’t have a catch last week) and Benjamin. The Bills LB unit will be tested heavily today with not only the running game but with the swing passes & screens to speedster McCaffrey & Stewart out in the flats. The Panthers defense is very good with a healthy Kuechly and an excellent D-line with DT’s Short & Lotulelei providing plenty of push up the middle….The Lb unit is fast and they attack the ball.

    The Bills O-line will have their hands full today and must be able to control the the Panthers DT’s or else it will be a long day in the trenches. TT will be on the move today and don’t be surprised if the Bills have him rolling out a few times to slow down the rush. Shady will be Shady and will get his yards as the Bills will put the ball in his hands as much as possible. It will be hot and muggy today so Tolbert and Banyard are going to have to spell him…. TT needs time to throw today and Clay and Matthews need to get open and open quickly!

    The Bills will continue to rotate lineman and Dareus should take more snaps today. The Bills secondary will have to come up in the box to help with the run game and the LB’s will be very active. Watching the Panthers defense will like watching the Bills new defensive scheme for the years to come. The Bills have to protect the middle as the Jets find way to many open areas last week.

    The Bills play their hardest but are not there yet as the the Panthers pull away in the 4th as the Bills wear down and the temp and high humidity take their toll!!

    Panthers 27 Bills 16

  3. Sounds like the D was good…offense was a joke. That game might have been won with Sammy Watkins…so there’s one game closer to a better draft pick thanks to the bad trade.

  4. first half was tough to watch- it looked as if the bills were on the verge of being on the wrong side of a colossal blowout. the offense was 3 and out city, and most of the blame goes to the offensive line which was completely dominated by carolina’s elite front seven. last week the left side of the OL (incognito, wood) were able to spring mccoy for some long gains but this week the entire line was not able to run block or pass protect- at all. it was the trent edwards third and long run for your life days revisited.
    the defense was OK but they gave up some big plays but they refused to break- and made some big plays of their own when they needed to- whether a sack on camera, a deflected pass or a hit on the receiver at the right time- the net result was hard to argue.
    in the second half the offense sputtered like a car that just wouldn’t start, although they made two semi decent drives.
    the defense came to life and just shut the panthers down, it was a beautiful thing. they looked better than the jim schwartz defense IMHO.
    penalties were almost non-existent, an incredible turnabout. clock management was a little suspect at the end of the game but a slightly overthrown pass on 4th and 11 to an open receiver sealed the loss.
    the defense is coming along ahead of schedule but the offensive line needs some serious help and should be the priority target area of development.
    they played tough, never gave up and are going to be in a lot of games this year.

  5. When your defense holds the other team to nine points, you should win those games every time. Unfortunately, the offense looked as terrible as they did in the preseason vs the Ravens (before TT was injured in that game). It’s obvious when the other team shuts down the run game and the Bills offense has to rely on Taylor’s arm, they’re in big trouble.

    I’m not devastated by the loss as I expected the Bills to be bad this year. I just feel bad for the defense as they played one of their best games in years. They had six sacks and hammered Newton constantly. It’s frustrating knowing that if the Bills had a QB, they would have blown out the Jets and Panthers. As the saying goes, “There’s always next year!”