After Slow Start, Bills Suddenly Have Clear Path Back to Playoffs
Every year in the NFL, a handful of teams are written off, dead and buried after slow starts. Quite frankly, most stay that way. This year though, there is one team that has risen from the ashes in spectacular fashion and is in prime position to end a 15+ year playoff drought.
The Buffalo Bills dropped their first two games in ugly fashion. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman was let go. Considering The Bills put up 31 points in a Week two loss to the Jets and that Buffalo ranked inside the top half of the league in offense in 2015, most (including myself) did not think Roman was the problem. From the outside looking in, it seemed to be defensive coordinator Rob Ryan who just happens to be the head coach’s brother.
Say what you will about Rex Ryan, there is no denying ever since he made the move to promote Anthony Lynn to offensive coordinator, Buffalo is a different football team. They have reeled off three straight wins including a shutout of the Patriots on the road. The Bills are firmly entrenched in second place in the AFC East. LeSean McCoy has spearheaded a ground attack that has posted 100+ yards in each game during the winning streak. This has helped dual threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor take better care of the football. It is also helped Buffalo get out to early leads in games, which makes the job of the defense much easier. Thus, that unit is getting better every week as well. Guys like Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin have stepped up nicely since top receiving threat Sammy Watkins was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury.
The biggest reason the Bills are looking good for a playoff spot is their schedule and competition. If one assumes that New England and resurgent Tom Brady are going to win the division again, the Bills are left gunning for one of the two wildcard spots. There is a massive drop-off in the AFC once you get past New England, Pittsburgh and Denver. Nine wins should be enough to secure a playoff berth. Buffalo is going to be battling it out with teams like Baltimore, Oakland, Kansas City and Cincinnati. Buffalo already has three wins as well as a total of three games left with the division rival Jets and Dolphins. Both of those teams flat out stink. There is no other way to say it. So, that should get the Bills to six wins. Throw in two additional bad teams in the 49ers and Browns, and Buffalo is up to eight wins. New England, Seattle and. Pittsburgh are tough match-ups for anyone. That leaves three “coin flip” games against the Jaguars, Raiders and Bengals. A win in any one of those three games gets them to nine.
There were legitimate questions as to whether or not Rex Ryan would make it through season in Buffalo after the first two weeks. Despite his antics and brash personality, it is becoming clearer each week that his players love playing for him and are buying what he is selling. Despite an above average tenure with the Jets, bringing playoff football back to Buffalo for the first time since the 1999 season would be the greatest achievement of his coaching career. Nothing is a given in this league. However, at this point, all he has to do to make that happen is make sure his team beats the teams that they are supposed to beat.