Going into this NFL Season, the Buffalo Bills felt as if they were the resounding consensus pick to win the Super Bowl. The defending champion Rams lost some key pieces and could be facing a hangover, the AFC Champion Bengals felt like they caught lightning in a bottle with their young roster, and the Chiefs, who eliminated them in one of the best offensive playoff games of all-time last year, lost Tyreek Hill in the offseason. Aside from the loss of Brian Daboll as their defensive coordinator, the Bills merely brought everyone back, were getting Tre’Davious White back eventually, added Von Miller to create balance to their roster by creating an elite pass-rush, and would be the heartbroken darling hungry for revenge.
It feels as if every year in the preseason of professional sports, something goes wrong for the “consensus” pick; in the NBA GM preseason survey, the last 4 crowned “champion” has fallen short of winning the title. It’s flattering to be the favorite until the fairytale is too good to be true- sports is a game with so many changing factors and luck that makes the “consensus” and predictable unpredictable. It’s almost as if being crowned prematurely only makes for bad juju.
After 25 of the NFL.com experts crowned the Bills their champion, it started to feel that way in Buffalo. There was the Matt Araiza travesty. They dealt with an injury bug in losing Micah Hyde for the year. This caused the media to zig when others were zagging by saying that they were not the dominant force we made them out to be after the exuding amount of pressure as the title favorites and having those expectations this year.
We need to stop overthinking it. The Bills are just as good as we made them out to be, and the preseason pressure has been welcomed and embraced.
With a 4-1 record (and their only loss being played in a Miami sauna), a league-leading +14 point differential, the best defense in football by only allowing 234 yards per game, and the 4th-highest scoring offense, they dominate both sides of the ball. They are well-aware of what is expected of them, and they’ve shown up in both capacities.
It’s not only that they’re doing it; it’s the manner in which they are doing it and the recklessly violent fury in which they want to do so. Josh Allen plays the most-important position in football that you want to protect and keep healthy in the long-game, but he will absolutely bulldoze a pass-rusher to the turf if it means extending a play; he toys with his food before they win with explosive plays- his rocket arm bombs to Stefon Diggs or Gabriel Davis create a league-leading 743 yards in explosive passing this season. In an era where the dump off screen, the RPO, and the slant over the middle have taken over, Allen has no fear to chuck it, and it makes for some of the most exciting brands of football out there.
Allen wants the team on his back- sometimes to a fault as he accounts for so much of their offense; going into Sunday, their 12 offensive touchdowns were all either an Allen pass or an Allen rush. They did draft rookie James Cook out of Georgia in the second round at running back, who scored his first career touchdown in their 38-3 drubbing of Pittsburgh, so if they can add a balance of a rushing attack to their offense to take some heat off of their star, it’s only going to make them even more level-headed to win in different ways should they be forced to play with their left hand.
You can tell that every individual on the roster truly wants this in Buffalo and is embracing this story. The team is the embodiment of the city- the fans in Western New York that will jump into tables (with or without a shirt) in subzero temperatures despite rooting for a team that went from losing 4 Super Bowls in a row to enduring being in a division with the New England dynasty.
They never wavered
You see it in Josh Allen screaming to psych up the team after enduring a hit only to merely say all the right things in a postgame press conference. You see it in Stefon Diggs yelling “I’M HIM” on the sidelines to remind everyone just how elite this team is. You see it in OC Ken Dorsey going absolutely ballistic in the box in their one loss by yelling and throwing things because he doesn’t even want to make one mistake.
The Bills know what we thought they could be, and they embrace it.