The 3-0 Buffalo Bills are, perhaps not so surprisingly, the best football team in the Empire State. Also not surprisingly, they are the second best team in the AFC East. And who should be arriving in Orchard Park and knocking at the door of New Era Field but the reigning AFC East and NFL champion New England Patriots. The Patriots are also 3-0, and since neither team has faced a formidable opponent in the opening weeks, a battle for the division’s top spot asks which team is for real. The Bills are 7.5 point home underdogs in the clash.
After dispatching the Jets in a Week 1 comeback, Sean McDermott’s crew ran roughshod over the Giants in Eli Manning’s swan song, oddly winning two consecutive road games in the same stadium. They returned home and ran their record in the state to 3-0 over the Cincinnati Bengals. While they led the Giants from start to finish, posting a 21-7 lead at the half on their way to a 28-14 final, The Bengals’ game was much more an uneven effort. The Bills opened the scoring with three scoring drives, leading 14-0 at intermission. The second half saw the Bills surrender the lead at 17-14, before a 49-reception by rookie TE Dawson Knox set up the winning 1-yard TD from the ageless RB Frank Gore just inside the two-minute warning.
If Defense Wins Championships the Bills are Fine. But What About Their Offense?
The strength of the Bills in the early going is their defense, as it has been for the past few years. Hard-hitting safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are one of the league’s strongest pairs, and a stout defensive front have the Bills leading the lead with seven takeaways in the early going. QB Josh Allen has improved over last season, completing 64.1% of his throws for 750 yards with three TDs and three picks.
His scrambling efforts make his stats better, rushing for 105 yards and two more scores. Allen’s polish and decision-making are still unfulfilled promises. 36-year-old Frank Gore has been an unexpected star on offense, averaging just under four yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns. Rookie RB Devin Singletary showed promise in the Bills’ first two contests, but hamstring issues led him to miss the Cincy game and may leave him out of the New England matchup.
The Buffalo Bills’ odds in the AFC are trending stronger, now at +750 to win the AFC East division and at +2500 to win the AFC overall. Upsetting the Patriots would certainly give them an edge in both. The Bills schedule following this weekend is full of games they should be able to win: the Titans, the Dolphins twice, the suddenly vulnerable Eagles, Redskins, Browns, and Broncos through late November. They are favored at -215 to make the playoffs, +156 to miss the postseason.