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Hard to get a read on Buffalo Bills after Week 1 win

The Bills are still tanking, right?

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NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Based on some of the offseason moves the Buffalo Bills made this summer, the team has been accused by its fair share of fans and media alike to be tanking under newcomers Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, Buffalo’s head coach and general manager, respectively.

As premature as the thought of the Bills tanking might sound, especially with the team opening the season with a win over the New York Jets, it’s hard to really blame anyone for jumping to this conclusion.

To recap, the Bills were in the national spotlight in August after parting with a plethora of their young players, beginning with Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby — in two separate trades announced at the same time.

And shortly thereafter, Buffalo shipped out 2016 second-rounder Reggie Ragland —before he could even suit up for his first professional game — and released fellow second-year man, Jonathan Williams, who in the preseason appeared to be a lock for the backup running back job. There were reports suggesting that Ragland was in jeopardy of being left off the 53-man roster, but notwithstanding, it’s still pretty glaring for such a high profile college player to be dealt that quickly, unless of course, he nets a king’s ransom in return as compensation.

It also bears mentioning that the club failed to make any real impact during the initial free agency period.

Flash forward to the regular season now, which is underway. The Bills won their first game, albeit not in an impressive manner, but naturally, the subject of the team tanking has resurfaced.

In short, yes, it still does feel like the Bills are tanking, but it’s complicated.

A ton of excuses can be made as to why the Bills didn’t pile up more points against the Jets in Week 1, but no matter how you spin it, it just doesn’t bode well that Buffalo led, what some people are calling an historically bad NFL team, 7-6 at halftime. New York trailed by just two points into the fourth quarter, before ultimately losing by nine.

Their overall underwhelming performance against the Jets can mainly be attributed to the lack of talent on this year’s Bills roster. And this is where McDermott and Beane come into play, as the ones tasked with assembling the team.

If they struggled this mightily with the Jets, it’s really hard to be optimistic about the Bills prospects of winning as the season progresses. (Note: they will play Gang Green again in Week 7.)

Even though it appears that they are tanking, McDermott and Beane left just enough individual talent on the roster to likely be able to propel Buffalo to win some games that it otherwise has no business winning.

In Week 1, LeSean McCoy showed that he’s still one of the league's best running backs, and Tyrod Taylor remains among the most dangerous dual threats. The combination of those two players is one that many teams around the league would gladly like to have lined up in their own backfields.

There aren't very many household names on the Bills defense, but if Marcell Dareus can harness some of what has made him so great in the past, and Micah Hyde can live up to the billing of his contract, the unit can possibly make some noise this season. Also, don’t sleep on cornerback E.J. Gaines, who Buffalo acquired in the Watkins deal. Analytics enthusiasts are quickly becoming aware of him.

The Bills were famously projected to finish tied for the third-worst record in the league (4-12) by one reputable outlet — and that was prior to the moves the team made in the summer. The odds of this final record coming to fruition are still pretty high but don’t be surprised if Buffalo's key veterans help the team squeak out at another two to three wins to finish the campaign with a respectable record.