Every hobby and interest has its own lingo that those who partake in said hobby know. For football fans, the list is long: draft bust, RPOs, and 21 personnel are just some of the examples.
Buffalo Bills fans over the past 20 years have grown accustomed to another term: must-win games. Usually those games began in late November, as Buffalo was almost always a middling team.
This year, the Bills appear to be anything but middling, which brought a thought (and a new term) to mind: must-perform. Through the first five games, Buffalo’s defense has simply been fantastic. The offense, on the other hand, has been like a roller coaster. They’re averaging 18 points per game, with a high of 28 against the New York Giants in Week 2.
Against arguably the worst team in the league on Sunday in the Miami Dolphins (arguably because the Cincinnati Bengals are right there with them), Buffalo’s offense MUST PERFORM. Miami will be without their starting safety ReShad Jones and defensive end Avery Moss, plus their top corner Xavien Howard is questionable to play. All of that combined with a bye week for Buffalo to prepare makes this a must-perform game for Josh Allen and the offense.
Allen has history, albeit brief, working in his favor. In Week 17 last season, he earned AFC offensive player of the week honors after a five-touchdown performance in a blowout win over the Dolphins. The second-year quarterback has had a solid season, but has yet to have a breakout game. Sunday is a perfect time to do so. That doesn’t mean Allen will have to pass for 300-plus yards, because the Bills should have a comfortable lead where he isn’t throwing it for four quarters. Rather, a breakout game for him would look something along the lines of three or four TDs (a combination of passing and rushing) and a couple of completed deep passes.
The must-perform mantra needs to spread to the third quarter for the Brian Daboll-led offense. Looking at teamrankings.com, the Bills are 28th in the league, scoring just 2 points per third quarter. That lull after halftime has resulted in games being closer than they should be. Against winless Miami, that won’t be acceptable.
Obviously, this is the NFL, and it’s easy to say “no team is truly easy.” But, looking at this season on its own, the Bills defense should dominate the putrid Miami offense, and with that dominance, the Buffalo offense should finally take advantage and put a team away early. This is not a mirage to start the season. The Bills are arguably one of the best two teams in the AFC and, with that, expectations need to rise. Simply winning against clearly inferior opponents isn’t enough. The offense must perform and win this game going away.