I've seen a lot of doom and gloom about this Bills team in the past week. And while pessimism about the future of this season is warranted, it doesn't mean this season will be a complete loss if the Bills can't figure out a way to rally and win the division. I remember predicting a bit of a regression for this season, as the Bills struggle with being the hunted instead of being the hunter.
Let's take a look at what two previous teams with Hall of Fame head coaches have done in similar situations in the past: The 1989 Buffalo Bills, and the 2002 New England Patriots.
In 1988, after years of frustration, The Bills finally put everything together with Marv Levy's calm hand, going 12-4, winning the division, and making it to the AFC Championship game. Hopes were high for 1989, as the Bills were finally recognized as one of the best teams in the NFL. The Bills got off to a hot start, getting to 6-2 at the midway point. They went 2-2 the next four games, and were still looking like they would win the division at 8-4. But they then lost 2 games to teams with losing records, got smoked by the 13-2 49ers, and had to beat the hapless Jets on the last day of the season to squeak by the Colts and Dolphins and win the division title with a 9-7 record. They went to Cleveland in the first playoff game, and lost on the last play of the game when a potential game winning TD pass from Jim Kelly bounced off of Ronnie Harmon's fingers, and the "Bickering Bills" went into the offseason with a ton of question marks. The Bills didn't drown in their sorrows for too long, and we all remember the four straight Super Bowls that followed.
Fast forward to 2001: After firing Pete Carroll after going 8-8 in 1999, and watching their new head coach go 5-11 in 2000, Young Bill Belichick and second year QB Tom Brady surprised the world, getting past the Raiders (the infamous "tuck-rule" game) and then shutting down the greatest show on earth in the Super Bowl. Pats fans couldn't wait for the following year, and all was good as they started off 3-0, with Brady looking like the GOAT scoring 30, 44, and 41 points during those games. It fell apart pretty quickly as they lost the next 4, and struggled to an overtime win against the Dolphins in the last game of the season to land on top of the division at 9-7. Unfortunately, the Jets AND Dolphins were also 9-7, and the Pats missed the playoffs due to tie-breakers (the Bills went 8-8). Again, Bill didn't let his team get demoralized, and they went 14-2 the next two years, winning the Super Bowl in both of those years.
I'm not saying I'm writing off this season, but if the Bills can't continue the linear progression of the last 3 years, I wouldn't lose hope for rest of the McDermott/Allen era.
In the meantime, there's nothing that says the Bills can't turn things around tomorrow and run the table. So Go Bills!