I know it is only week 2, but the Buffalo Bills stand all alone in first place in the AFC East. Yes, this is the same Buffalo Bills team that I predicted would go 5-11 and pretty much be the laughing stock of the NFL after their pathetic offseason. However, through 2 games, I could not be more wrong. At 2-0, the Bills are staring down at the Jets, Patriots and Dolphins, all of whom have suffered a defeat. The Bills have scored the most points and have allowed the least points in the division. They have only trailed for 4:43 of the 125:14 played (they have been tied or winning for 96.2% of the season so far). These wins have not been flukes either. The Bills went into Soldier Field and beat the Bears in their home opener. This organization had never won at Soldier Field. The Bills followed that up with a convincing blowout win over the hated Dolphins in a home opener to remember.
What makes this 2-0 start more impressive than others is the teams that the Bills have beaten. It is hard to tell after two weeks whether or not a team is actually good in the NFL. It is one thing to be the Houston Texans right now, who are also a surprising 2-0, but have beaten the Chiefs and Raiders (both 0-2). I don’t think anyone would argue that the Raiders are not one of the worst teams in the NFL. On the contrary, the Bills have beaten the Bears and Dolphins, both of whom have won their other game against formidable opponents. The Dolphins beat the Patriots and the Bears went into San Francisco for their home opener in a brand new stadium on Sunday Night Football and spoiled the party for the defending NFC runner ups.
One thing I have noticed about this Bills team which I believe makes them different than the 2008 and 2011 teams that got our hopes up only to dash them as soon as possible is I believe that the Bills have been decidedly more physical than their opponents so far. They are controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football. Check out these stats through two weeks.
Rush yards per game allowed: 6th (83 ypg)
Rush yards per game gained: 6th (153 ypg)
Sacks for: 6th (6 sacks through 2 weeks)
Sacks allowed: 3rd (only 1 sack allowed through 2 weeks)
The Bills have been able to run the ball and stop the run. They have also been able to protect EJ Manuel and pressure the opposing quarterback leading to a +4 turnover differential through 2 games.
Now on to the Dolphins game. The Bills beat Miami 29-10. Ironically this is the same score as the Bills AFC Championship triumph in the 1992 season at Joe Roby Stadium. The Bills hit on all of my keys to victory from last week’s preview.
First, they needed to get CJ Spiller and Sammy Watkins more involved. I would say that they did that. Spiller had a 47 yard run leading to a Watkins touchdown reception and a 102 yard kickoff return touchdown that basically ended any slight hope Miami had. Watkins had 8 for 117 and a touchdown and nearly had another on a long bomb on the Bills’ first drive. The Clemson boys were the Bills’ best players.
Secondly, they needed to block Cameron Wake. I wasn’t sure if Cameron Wake even played so I checked the box score, he had 1 total tackle. Hats off to Seantrel Henderson who is looking like an absolute steal in the 7th round of the 2014 draft. I know the Bills probably gave him so help, but damn, what a day for Seantrel.
Thirdly, EJ needed to play with some confidence, make some plays and not do anything stupid. EJ did not do anything stupid, made some nice throws to Watkins and seems to be gaining confidence as is being shown with his pre and post game speeches.
Fourth, the Bills needed to stop the run and pressure Tannehill. Miami ran for 80 yards and the Bills sacked Tannehill 4 times.
It wasn’t ALL good though yesterday, which makes the margin of victory even more impressive. The Bills red zone offense is horrendous, with both execution and play calling. The Bills managed just 1 touchdown in 5 red zone possessions. The Bills need to change something up in the red zone soon (maybe use Spiller in some creative ways, other than just running it up the middle with him).
The AFC game of the week next week is the San Diego Chargers at the Buffalo Bills. The Chargers are 1-1 and just beat the defending champions at home 30-21. Phil Rivers is just on another level right now and will pose a bigger threat to the Bills defense than they have seen thus far this season. The Bills are favored by 1 point initially, showing that they are at least gaining some very marginal national respect. Yeah, they would still be dogs on a neutral site, but after being home dogs for their home opener against Miami, this is a step up. Go Bills!