The Buffalo Bills are in the midst of a troubling trend, losing football games with far greater frequency than most find comfortable. The reality is that outside of two (unfortunately AFC East) cases, no regular season ever goes perfectly well for any NFL team.
While nowhere near the hype of previous seasons, the Bills are still regarded as one of the elite teams, both within their conference and the entire league. But in the last five games, Buffalo has looked very average, while struggling to do well many things that before seemed second nature. They haven’t played a complete game since Week 4, when they dismantled the Miami Dolphins. The very next week ended their three-game win streak, replaced by a series of alternating wins and losses, which has continued through Week 9 and netting them a 2-3 record in that span.
The situation with the 2023 Buffalo Bills is as frustrating as it is confusing. Somehow, they continue to lose despite a wealth of talent on the roster. That’s frustrating when considering the losses in terms of opponent and manner of defeat. The four games Buffalo has dropped to this point came against AFC opponents, which means they have almost no margin for error moving forward if they hope to return to the playoffs. Every loss they’ve endured could have been a victory with perhaps just one more correct play and/or call. It’s about execution first and foremost, and the Bills have lacked sound execution all over the roster in far too many games. Losses against teams observably inferior — aside from the Cincinnati Bengals, who finally look like expected — have compounded the issue with many fans, who now believe the gauntlet awaiting Buffalo ensures a gloomy, doom-filled back half of the season.
But they’re only a half game out of first in the AFC East, and the division still remains very much in play. As long as they stack wins. The Bills need to listen closely to head coach Sean McDermott when he calls for playing complementary football. It sounds cliche at this point to outsiders, but it’s imperative the team learns to play within itself and control the mistakes they can influence.
The NFL is about far more than stats, which means a fair bit of luck also comes into play. While the offense looks great on paper, they’re struggling out of the gate — failing to score touchdowns early in games. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, while certainly not perfect and deserving of some criticism, isn’t the team’s biggest problem, and all would not suddenly be well without him calling plays. But the time for experimenting with different types of systems has passed, no matter if that’s coming from head coach Sean McDermott or the work of Ken Dorsey alone.
Can the Bills get on a roll and peak at the right time to change the current narrative? Absolutely. But there’s not a ton of time left to take action.
Until fans see it, they’re not going to believe the Buffalo Bills are headed in the right direction. That’s fair, even if far too many jump quickly to conclusions while ignoring available data and recent history.
To little surprise, voters this week were not on the bandwagon, and the number of those ready to circle it with the team this season continues to drop. Right now, only 11% of those who voted expressed confidence the Buffalo Bills are headed in the right direction. That marks a new low this season. These Bills can’t begin stacking wins soon enough.
Interestingly, fans of the Denver Broncos feel much differently out their team, despite their team sitting in the bottom of the AFC West standings with a statistically terrible defense and a head coach whose bravado seems mightier than his current ability. But the Broncos are 3-2 in their last five games, after starting 0-3 and losing to the Miami Dolphins 70-20.
Perhaps this will serve as a reminder not only of the week-to-week nature of fandom, but also that it is possible for a team to change peoples’ perception.
The challenge for the Bills this week is that the Broncos are fresh off their bye, and now almost fully healthy.
In case you were curious how NFL fans in general see the Bills’ season playing out, better than half (67%) of those polled this week believe Buffalo will make the playoffs despite sitting on the outside looking in if things ended today.