The up and down Buffalo Bills are up again, at least until Sunday when they have another “must win” game against the Eagles if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive in a game rated as a tossup by the oddsmakers.
What a roller coaster ride this season has been for the Bills, giving and taking away hope to end the 15-year playoff drought and standing at 6 and 6 as the final push begins to try and live up to the preseason hype. Right now, Buffalo is one game behind a playoff record.
The good news for diehard fans is that last week’s 30 -23 win over the surging Texans was enough to keep Buffalo’s faint playoff hopes still flickering although Rex Ryan’s crew will pretty much have to win out to realistically have a chance to reach the postseason with three teams very much in their way, including the 7 and 5 New York Jets. On paper, one would expect the Buffalo offense, which ranks 10th in scoring offense, to be able to take to the Eagles, a team that ranks 25th in scoring defense.
Tyrod Taylor continues to mostly impress in his first season as a starter at quarterback, both with his arm and his legs, passing for 211 yards and three touchdowns against the tough Texans’ defense and adding 28 yards in seven carries on the ground, once again proving an elusive target for even Houston’s strong pass rush.
And how about LeSean McCoy’s 112 rushing yards, certainly a huge factor in helping the passing game with his speed and cutback ability that keeps defenders off balance and buys time on passing plays for Taylor. Now McCoy doesn’t always produce, but when he does, Buffalo’s chances improve dramatically.
Sammy Watkins hauled in three passes for 109 yards against the Texans, showing again that when healthy the speedy wide receiver is a huge difference maker for this team. And McCoy, an up and downer like the team he plays for, should have plenty of extra motivation when he returns to Philadelphia to face his former team in a very big game for both the Eagles (5 – 7 and still alive for a playoff spot) and the Bills. The Eagles pulled a shocker last week in upsetting the injury-riddled Patriots and will be sky high for the Bills and McCoy, especially in front of those wild Philly fans.
In my view, the Bills will need to win out, starting Sunday, to have any chance to end the playoff drought and given their history of up and down performances it is hard to believe they can do it. But they have shown from time to time that they can play winning football in this roller coaster season, and perhaps Taylor has become the leader to give them a chance, if not this year, then maybe next year.
The Bills entered the season with no proven quarterback and writers, including this one, didn’t really think they could go anywhere without a leader behind center who could make the plays that spell the difference between winning and losing. Taylor has slowly made me a believer that he has the talent and the grit to be that leader and help this team become competitive.
Given Buffalo’s losing history, it is very hard to invest a lot of hope in their ability to win the big games and while this is a different team from all the losers of the last 15 years, they still have a lot to do to end the losing curse and make the playoffs. Maybe it will be this year, maybe not, but at least there is hope that if Taylor continues to make strides, the Bills can get there soon.