Prosperity can be difficult to handle when one is not used to it. Expectations and attitudes change, because human nature is fickle. It’s easy to get complacent and lose that one extra unit of focus.
The Buffalo Bills have not dealt with prosperity in a long time. Oh sure, they’ve had some minor successes in recent season, including the first consecutive non-losing seasons since the 1990s. But even bigger than that, the experts in the Nevada desert expect them to win on Sunday for the first time in a road division game since…drumroll…2007, when they were favored (and defeated) the worst Miami Dolphins team in franchise history.
The fact its been essentially a decade is remarkable. But here we are, staring down a 2-4 Fins squad riding high off of an upset win last week over Pittsburgh. Bovada has the Bills -3. Fans expect a victory in South Florida, as does every player and coach in the locker room. What are the keys come reckoning?
1. Attack Ryan Tannehill. There’s no reason to let up on defense. Rex Ryan’s attacking style has worked wonders against the Miami QB in the past, including twice last season in Bills victories. Tannehill doesn’t fare well against pressure, and a QBR of 43.4 ranks last amongst the 31 qualified candidates. Attack the head of the snake, and the body dies.
2. Shut down the rushing attack. Hello, let’s meet Jay Ajayi. The second year man from Boise State exploded for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries last week against the Steelers, officially announcing his superiority over the broke down Arian Foster. Ajayi shouldn’t have that performance against the Bills, however. The run defense (hey Zach Brown from the second tier) will need to stiffen up, but they’ve done a nice job this season against superior talent.
3. Touchdowns, not field goals. Buffalo showed a killer instinct last week, scoring 21 points in the 4thquarter and knocking out San Francisco 45-16. Dan Carpenter is still shaky in the kicking game, so scoring six points is key. The red zone attack has been efficient this season (73 percent touchdown percentage, 6th in the league), and to pick up the road win, that will have to continue.
So it is truly a new era (that was horrible and I apologize) for the Buffalo Bills in 2016. After a slow start, the expectations are to march into Hard Rock Stadium and win, period. No excuses will be acceptable. 5-2 is the goal, and its reasonable to assume that even with a potentially limited LeSean McCoy on offense, the Bills should roll. Bills 27-14.