Through the first five games of the 2019 NFL calendar, “stout” may perhaps have been the best way to describe the Buffalo Bills. Their defense was strong, particularly in a 16-10 loss to the then—and still—undefeated AFC East-leading New England Patriots in Week 4, and then in a 14-7 win in a defensive struggle at Tennessee the following Sunday. The bye week was supposed to give them time for a breather, health, and preparation, but instead they seem to have lost some mojo; their stout was turned inside-out.
The last two games, on the other hand, can be best described as “ugly.” First an ugly win over the then—and still—winless cellar-dwelling Miami Dolphins, and then an ugly loss at the hands of the talented by underperforming Philadelphia Eagles. If ugly is a trend, it is not a shade of that team or their exuberant fanbase, the Bills Mafia, will wear well.
The Bills were 17-point favorites coming into the tussle with the hapless Dolphins. Quarterback Josh Allen continued his season-long display of inconsistency, leading the Bills to but three field goal drives in the first half against the Dolphins. Grizzled and hirsute Ryan Fitzpatrick sprinkled some of his Fitzmagic special dust on two touchdown drives, and the ‘Fins led 14-9 at the half. Coming out of the break, stud corner Tre’Davious White picked off Fitzpatrick at his own two-yard line as the Dolphins were hoping to extend the lead. Allen engineered a 98-yard drive ending in a 20-yard TD throw to favorite weapon, John Brown, to take the lead minutes into the fourth quarter.
Two drives later, White forced a fumble deep in Miami territory; Allen found Cole Beasley in the end zone for another score to extend the lead to ten. Buffalo’s D allowed Miami a hurry-up drive to slice the lead to a field goal; but safety Micah Hyde sealed the victory with a dramatic, ballet-esque jump and pirouette to secure the onside kick and raced untouched for a 45-yard touchdown and a 31-21 final. Allen ended the day completing 16 of 26 for 202 yards and the two TDs. The Bills picked up 117 yards on the ground, but gave up 391 yards of total offense to the Dolphins and never sacked Fitzpatrick.
A date with the more capable Eagles promised a greater challenge for the Sean McDermott’s squad, even as the visitors arrived in Orchard Park with a 3-4 record, having lost back-to-back games. Buffalo went up 7-3 with a Cole Beasley second-quarter score on a drive led by several completions to John Brown and aided by two unnecessary roughness penalties on Malcolm Jenkins. Philly came right back off an Allen fumble and took an 11-7 lead, but Bills’ kicker Steven Hauschka pushed a 53-yard field goal attempt wide right to close the half.
The Eagles added to the lead with a 65-yard scamper by Miles Sanders, and then the teams traded third-quarter touchdowns; a 28-yard strike from Allen to Devin Singletary and a 4-yard scramble by Boston Scott. Wentz led the Eagles on one long TD drive in the fourth for the 31-13 final. Allen fumbled three times in the game, losing one. He was an underwhelming 16 of 34 for 169 yards and two touchdowns with 45 yards rushing. He was sacked four times. Again, the Buffalo defense allowed almost 400 yards of offense, 218 on the ground.
The Bills Lookahead: Bills Week 9 Odds Preview and Season Outlook
At the halfway mark of the season, the 5-2 Bills find themselves in the not unenviable position of the first Wild Card spot, two and a half games behind the Patriots for the AFC East lead, and half a game ahead of the surging 5-3 Houston Texans. The odds for a Buffalo Bills Super Bowl 54 Championship are +4000; +2100 to win the AFC; and +1700 to overcome the Pats and win the AFC East. They are a -270 to make the playoffs, and +192 to miss the postseason.
Fortunately for the Bills, the schedule works in their favor. Their next four opponents (Washington, Cleveland, Miami, and Denver) have a combined record of 5-26 on the season. The offense and the quarterback need to find some rhythm and consistency; the defense needs to tighten up over the next month. December brings a more taxing schedule including the Ravens and visiting the Patriots.
That all starts with the Bills’ Week 9 opponent, the Washington Redskins. The Bills Week 9 odds against the Redskins are—not surprisingly—quite favorable. The Bills moneyline against the Redskins is -430 while the Bills Week 9 spread against the Redskins sits at -9.5. For those that are more interested in points, the Bills Over/Under for Week 9 is a surprisingly low 37 at most sportsbooks.