To think the Bills had nearly garnered our sympathy by the end of a long off-season. An almost unanimous Super Bowl pick, an MVP front-runner at quarterback, a betting favorite so painfully apparent in almost every matchup. A team that, in the movie we made in our heads, was slated to avenge a premature playoff shutdown and ultimately deliver a trophy to a perpetually-plagued fan base that is still, miraculously, in good things. believes.
When will all this hysteria on paper actually happen? How many times have we seen a team overwhelmed by the madness they had no hand in themselves?
Well, after they wrecked the Rams on opening night, 31-10, we’re excited to report that the Bills are looking great at becoming the team the world thought they would be. It turns out that Josh Allen can get even bigger and stronger. Despite having one of the most valuable arms in football, he will still break, stick his leg wide and curse a wobbly defender who is cursed with the task of knocking him down in the open field. He’s going to portray Bobby Wagner, just one of the greatest linebackers in modern NFL history, on the damn goal line of all places.
Don’t you know, the defense could get even harder to reconcile. Suffocating one of the most talented broad-receiving corps in football, forcing the game’s brightest offensive mind into a dink-and-dunk performer who’s grateful to Tyler Higbee for the meager win. Matthew Stafford, with a new chess piece on the edge, pounded Von Miller, slashing a few pockets, and the blind side guards of the Rams haunted with the speed of a much younger man. Throwing a sheet on Allen Robinson, who joined the Rams this offseason with a three-year deal worth nearly $50 million and disappeared into a thicket of perfectly placed defenders every time Stafford fell back to pass (his latest stat line for the night: two goals, one catch, 12 yards).
And did you notice the game’s first drive, where the Bills went 76 yards over nine plays, unloaded with exotic looks and moves for months on end? Carrying an unbalanced line that buried Aaron Donald in a tidal wave of attacking linemen who dragged him away from a bootlegging Allen, who got to loft a float to Gabe Davis for one of the easier touchdowns he’ll see this year? The new offensive coordinator can also call them.
After all, the Bills are the best team in the NFL. Accuse us of throwing anything you want on a small sample size, but this is a continuation of last year’s increase. This is the same team that played a perfect game against Bill Belichick in the playoffs, embarrassing one of the best defensive coaches in NFL history. Davis still scores at a brisk pace. Allen still throws more than 50 yard bombs at Stefon Diggs, even though the whole world knows he gets the ball. Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, two players who were allowed to run in free agency at one point and now turn their early thirties, still direct a quarterback horror show in the secondary, buying time for a highly skilled and relentless pass rush.
To those of you who made the most obvious Super Bowl pick in recent memory, heave a deep sigh of relief. The Bills turned the ball four times and proclaimed the defending Super Bowl champions. That just doesn’t happen.
Playing as a favorite, especially in football, is often a psychological death sentence. There’s a reason why, amid championships, coaches like Belichick and Nick Saban have both dug through the internet’s lowest rungs, refusing to find a single bad word about their team to put them on edge. In fact, Saban was just making up incendiary quotes when he couldn’t find anything (was Saban ever caught doing an ethical violation here?) They wanted a locker room to feel looked down upon. They wanted their players to feel disrespected. They wanted to challenge the idea that their teams had gotten so good that it was boring for the viewing audience.
Isn’t it fair to wonder what the domestic bills would be once they were freed from the web of doubts we’ve all had about them for years? About the defensive coach they hired during an offensive revolution? About the still raw quarterback they brought out of Wyoming who felt more like Ricky Vaughn coming out of college than Peyon Manning? About their history as a hell of a free agency?
Miller wanted to leave Los Angeles for Buffalo. Being piled up under six feet of snow in the winter is cool now.
One game in the season, the hype that has brought us is encouraging both the monster they created on the pitch and the monster we created in our own heads. How nice is this when the two are one in the same? How good can the Buffalo Bills be?
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