The Buffalo Bills will always share some sort of special connection with VandyRadio for me. For the entire first semester of my show – and you can ask my co-host Owen – I was about as bullish on the Bills as one could be. I was all in on them winning the 2022 Super Bowl from October of 2021 onwards. Looking back at it, I can say that 17-year-old me was simply naive in this belief, because the Bills that we’re seeing in the present are constructed (more or less) the same, and these Bills are a fringe playoff team.
Is that even a hot take? I don’t know at this point. Here are the Bills’ results through seven games in 2023:
- AT New York Jets: L 22-16
- VS Las Vegas Raiders: W 38-10
- AT Washington Commanders: W 38-3
- VS Miami Dolphins: W 48-20
- VS Jacksonville Jaguars: L 25-20
- VS New York Giants: W 14-9
- AT New England Patriots: L 29-25
On paper, I don’t find these numbers THAT concerning. After all, a record above .500 is, at the baseline, good. Buffalo is 4-3, so you’d have to assume they are a quality team, especially with the beatdowns they put forth on the Raiders, Commanders and Dolphins in three straight weeks. Even then, the Raiders and Commandes are both terrible football teams; yes, a 30-point win is impressive, but not that impressive considering the competition. Credit to them for beating the Dolphins, though; they were the better team in that game and deserve the praise.
I’ve been completely unimpressed in every single game since then. The loss against the Jets was horrendous; even if the Bills were on the road, they had no business losing that game to Zach Wilson after he had just been thrown into the fire following Aaron Rodgers’ torn achilles. They trailed from start to finish against the Jaguars, and it took a garbage time touchdown to make the score look respectable.
Don’t even get me started on the Giants game. I’ll take my bias “hat” off in an effort to be as fair towards the Bills as possible. Still, the Giants were without their starting quarterback, were missing multiple starting offensive linemen, their star running back and tight end were both banged up, and the G-Men have never won in primetime during the Daniel Jones-era. Not to mention that the game was in Buffalo. And the Bills only won by five? It took a terrible decision at halftime by Tyrod Taylor that robbed the Giants of points, and a pretty questionable no-call on what seemed like a clear pass interference on the final play of the game for the Bills to squeak away with a win.
Finally, the Bills just recently lost to the Patriots in Week 7 in another game where they trailed for the majority and got off to a painfully slow start. The Patriots were averaging 12 points per game before the Bills allowed them to hang 29 on their heads. New England is far and away one of the worst teams in the league and Sean McDermott and co. made them look like the Tom Brady-led Patriots of the past.
All of this is to say one thing; yes, passing offense reigns supreme in the NFL these days. The ability to force the ball down the field in large chunks through connections between Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs has done the Bills’ offense wonders over the past few seasons. Unfortunately, the other part of offense cannot be completely ignored, and that’s exactly what the Bills have done.
A team can get away with having mediocre talent in the running back room of its offensive line is good. Sometimes a team can even get away with a bad offensive line and a really good running back. Unfortunately for the Bills, they are below average in both categories. They are a painfully predictable offense with only one dimension – and really only two players in Allen and Diggs that can make plays.
Buffalo ran the ball well at times, but have posted four games (three of which were losses) in which it was held to 60 or fewer yards from its lead rusher. On Sunday against the Patriots, the Bills ran for just 81 yards, and Allen’s late-game heroics weren’t enough to get them the win.
I’ll go ahead and make this a hot take now, because bashing a 4-3 team that has looked consistently inconsistent is not really a hot take. The Bills’ second-half schedule is absolutely brutal and I have pretty low expectations for them.
The Bills will finish at 9-8 and miss out on the playoffs.