I assure you, though, they are bad. Our Robert Mays ranked the Bills 32nd out of 32 in his preseason power rankings. When our staff assembled for its wins pool ahead of the season, the Bills were one of the two teams that went unselected. The Ringer was not alone in its negative assessment of Buffalo. ESPN had the Bills 28th, Bleacher Report 30th, and CBS joined us in ranking them dead last. But then again, last year everybody hated on the Bills too. Before the season, Mays put the Bills 31st; ESPN and B/R had them 26th, and CBS had them 27th. And that was the Bills team that was theoretically the best in years: They were the first Buffalo squad to make the playoffs since 1999, ending the longest postseason drought in pro sports. How could everyone have been so wrong about a team that turned out to be so good, and so meaningful for Buffalo? And how could they repeat the mistake by issuing such low expectations for a team that made the playoffs last season? Clearly, the preseason rankings of this years Bills team reflected typical downstate bias from a hating national media that would prefer to imagine 95 percent of the state of New York doesnt exist.
But then the season started, and the Bills backed up the anti-hype. Buffalo lost its Week 1 game against the Ravens 47-3, the biggest blowout in any NFL matchup since 2014. Quarterback Nathan Peterman registered a 0.0 quarterback rating, becoming the first starter to do so since the 2015 season. The defense made Joe Flacco look elite, as he threw for three touchdowns with no interceptions. The score could have been worse, but the Ravens decided to chill out after going up 40-0 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Video: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Buffalo Bills | Week 2 Game Preview | NFL
The Bills are bad, but like I said, many sports teams are bad. What upsets me about the Buffalo Bills is that they did this to themselves.
There were some truly great moments from the Bills 2017 campaign. There is no greater Buffalo football thing than the team and its fans celebrating an overtime win in an ongoing snowstorm by hurling snow wherever they could:
Running back LeSean McCoy had a quiet opener for the Bills last Sunday as he ran seven times for 22 yards before the Ravens moved so far ahead that there wasn’t much point in running the ball or risking injury to a key veteran.
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Allen: I just want to do my job, trust those around me
Quiet days from McCoy are never a good thing for the Buffalo offense, but it will be particularly important for him to put up a strong performance this week. First-round pick Josh Allen is taking over at quarterback and McCoy knows that the rest of the offense needs to step up in order to help the rookie avoid calamity.
Should the troubled Bills be starting Josh Allen?
“One thing Im going to talk to the offense about, especially the skill guys, for the rookie quarterback to have a good game for them is to make it easy on him, McCoy said, via the team’s website. “Hey, if he makes a wrong read and the ball is hard to catch, catch it. You might not get yards after the catch, but just catching the ball will give him confidence, moving the chains. In the running back room, making guys miss, breaking tackles, everything to give him the extra advantage is critical and big for this game and his confidence. Hes so young. If he gets going he gets more confidence each play, so thats something I want to talk to the guys about, just executing and making it easier for him.”
Outside of McCoy, there aren’t many Bills offensive players with a track record that suggests they’ll be capable of lifting an inexperienced quarterback to great heights. That appeared to be part of the reason why the Bills didn’t go with Allen from day one, but plans have changed and we’ll see if the unit can rise to the occasion.