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Are the Buffalo Bills’ signature wins over Broncos, Falcons really that special?

The Broncos and Falcons were a combined 5-0 when the Bills beat them. They’re a combined 1-3 since.

Earlier this season, the Buffalo Bills pulled off consecutive wins over the then-undefeated Denver Broncos (in Buffalo) and Atlanta Falcons (in Atlanta), and there was much rejoicing. Those were two very impressive wins at the time. In the ensuing weeks, however, a little bit of the luster has come off those games, given the struggles of the teams they came against.

Since losing to the Bills, the Broncos beat the Oakland Raiders by six points in a game finished by EJ Manuel, had their bye week, and came out with a loss to the previously-winless New York Giants.

The Falcons also had their bye in Week 5, and also came back last week with a surprising loss to struggling opponent, in this case the Miami Dolphins. Atlanta held a 17-0 halftime lead before allowing a team that had scored 22 points in the previous three games combined to put up 20 in the second half while the offense (with Julio Jones) failed to muster even a field goal.

Remember when the Bills beat the Los Angeles Rams last year? The Rams were riding a three-game winning streak and had one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. The Bills went into their stadium (to the extent that you could call the Coliseum “theirs”) and beat them handily, 30-19. It seemed impressive at the time, but over the next 12 weeks the number of changes they made at head coach and quarterback (two) outpaced the number of games they won (one).

How about the year before, when the Bills hosted the potential Super Bowl-contending Indianapolis Colts? Tyrod Taylor, in his first game with the Bills, outplayed former first-overall pick Andrew Luck and the Bills cruised to a 27-14 win that wasn’t even that close. It was pretty exciting until the hype train came off the rails in Indy. Luck missed eight games that year, but the Colts actually had a better record with Matt Hasselbeck at the helm (5-3) than they did with Luck (2-5), and they failed to make the playoffs in the worst division in football.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Bills’ opponents will falter to that extent. The Broncos are in a tough division, but they still have one of the better defenses in the NFL. The Falcons might struggle in the second half against teams from the AFC East, but they have the reigning MVP, the best receiver in the NFL, and their best defender (Vic Beasley) should be returning to the lineup in the next couple weeks.

Still, it’s a little bit of necessary perspective. A team that looks strong in September might look mediocre (or worse) once December rolls around. What was once a signature win can devolve into a turning point, when we realized that the opponent has some serious shortcomings that they were able to hide over the first few weeks.

It’s something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks, especially if the Bills start having some trouble and you’re forced to question everything you thought you knew after Week 4.