The Buffalo Bills are near the top of the AFC but have not had much competition. That changes on Sunday with a matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Buffalo Bills are currently among the AFC’s elite in the standings. The team has only played six games but a 5-1 record is surely nothing to scoff at.
The lone loss for the Bills came against the 7-0 New England Patriots in what was actually a close 16-10 finish. This was a much closer result than anyone outside of Buffalo could have expected.
Yet there is still something missing for the Bills up to this point. That is a win over not just a dominant team, but even a mediocre one.
The Bills have beaten the following opponents: New York Jets, New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, and Miami Dolphins. The highest score in all those wins was 31, which came last Sunday against the Dolphins. Though that included a special teams touchdown on an onside kick.
The defense has been winning games for the Bills, allowing an average of only 15.2 points against through six games. Meanwhile, the offense is only averaging 20.2 points per game.
Those averages are fine on offense if the defense can sustain such a pace. The problem is that it is going to be harder to hold non-awful teams under 15 points on a weekly basis from now through the end of December.
The schedule does get more difficult and the first test comes Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles head to Buffalo with a record of 3-4 and are coming off an embarrassing loss in Dallas. Still, the Eagles are a tier above the teams already beaten by the Bills.
We all know the Bills defense is capable of stopping someone like Tom Brady. The Eagles come in averaging around 24 points per game so even keeping them in that 17-24 range would be a successful day for any NFL defense.
The side that must prove itself is the offense. Specifically, quarterback Josh Allen.
The second-year quarterback has yet to eclipse 260 passing yards in a game this season and he only has seven passing touchdowns, compared to seven interceptions. Though he has also added three rushing touchdowns.
A weak showing out of Allen and the offense could signal that the Bills can beat the bad teams with great defense, but will never take down better teams either in the regular season or the postseason.
At 5-1 the Bills still have remaining games against the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, and the New York Jets. Given they win all three that means the Bills just need one or two wins against the actual competitive teams on the schedule.
The Redskins game comes a week from Sunday so even if the Bills lose to the Eagles, there is a solid chance to be 6-2 through eight games. Yet if the offense continues to struggle and the only way the team wins is if the defense shuts down terrible offenses, 6-2 won’t look as good as it should.
The Bills can still make the playoffs this season with an easy strength of schedule. Wins are wins no matter how you get them in the NFL. What the Bills have a chance to do this Sunday is to show the NFL world that they are indeed a team that can make a playoff run and not just get there based on an easy schedule.
At some point the Bills need to take that next step from just being excited about making the playoffs to looking toward a return to the Super Bowl.
A win this Sunday over the Eagles to improve to 6-1 would be a nice start.