So here we are, three weeks into the NFL season, and it is already pretty clear which teams will be competing for playoff spots and which teams won’t. Some teams that likely won’t compete have had bad luck essentially end their season (Steelers), some have significantly fell short of early expectations (Browns) and some have been flat out bad (Dolphins).
However, one team that looks like it will be competing is the Buffalo Bills. There are currently seven teams that are 3-0, and among them you have some of the usual suspects like the Patriots, Chiefs, Packers and Rams. But in that group you also have the Bills, which I do not think anyone saw coming. The Bills have certainly overachieved so far.
Now, the Bills have played the Jets, Giants and Bengals, who combined have one win this season, so the competition has not been great. But 3-0 is 3-0. The improvement of Josh Allen has been staggering, and the defense looks incredible so far. Again, it is a small sample size against weak competition, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
The Patriots have been the most dominant team in the league so far, also against weak competition, but they aren’t even leading the AFC East because of the Bills. Who would have thought the Week 4 matchup between New England and Buffalo would be for first place in the division?
First, let’s look at the Bills offense. Last year, Allen was sub-par. He had a strong but inaccurate arm and seemed to make more plays with his feet. This year, it has been different. Allen is completing over 64% of his passes, up 12% from last season and he has thrown for 750 yards and three touchdowns. He has also led game-winning drives in the fourth quarter of two out of the three games, including one this past week against the Bengals to win 21-17.
The turnovers may still be a problem, as we saw in the first half of the Jets game, when Allen turned the ball over four times with two fumbles and two interceptions. That terrible start let the Jets get out to a 16-0 lead, but then we saw something we have never seen from Allen. He overcame adversity with a tremendous fourth quarter, in which he led two 85-yard touchdown drives to give the Bills a 17-16 comeback win. The game-winning touchdown was a beautiful 38-yard strike from Allen to John Brown.
In order for the Bills to make that comeback, though, the defense had to hold the Jets scoreless, which brings me to the surprisingly-good Bills defense. I don’t think anybody had Buffalo as a top-10 defense this year, but that is exactly how they have performed. They allowed the fifth-fewest points per game (15.7) and the sixth-fewest yards per game (299.7) in the league. Say what you want about their competition, but those are solid numbers. The Bills are also tied for second in the league with seven takeaways: Four interceptions and three fumbles.
There is a lot to like about this Bills team. Tre’Davious White has been a top cornerback, picking off Andy Dalton twice in Sunday’s win. Jordan Poyer is the leader of that defense, with a team-high 23 tackles and a forced fumble so far.
Even with the departure of LeSean McCoy, the running back tandem of Frank Gore and Devin Singletary has been solid, accounting for almost 300 yards. Allen is still making plays with his legs as well, rushing for over 100 yards and two touchdowns.
The receiving game has also definitely stepped up this year with the arrival of Brown and Cole Beasley. They give Allen some reliable targets to throw to that he didn’t have last year.
I’m not completely buying into the Bills being a playoff team this season yet, strictly because they still are turning the ball over a lot and they haven’t played any good teams. That definitely changes this week when the Patriots come to town. I don’t think the Bills are going to win, but if they give the Patriots a decent game — which none of their previous three opponents have managed to do — I will start to believe the Bills could be for real this year.
Regardless, the Bills are 3-0 for the first time since 2011, and the Bills Mafia is going to enjoy that for as long as they can. Expect a lot of broken tables at the pregame this week.
Thumbnail photo from The Associated Press.
Danny Barletta is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.