A Guarantee, and Schedule Notes: Past and Present
I’ll make a bold guarantee: The 2019 Buffalo Bills will defeat The New England Patriots on Sunday, September 29th, at New Era Field. You scoff, but I will tell you precisely why: it’s not because of the metrics I’ve culled through, the hours of tape I’ve watched, the insider knowledge or the numerous New England “high level business meetings” that I bugged. Nope! None of that could come close… The Bills will beat the Patriots precisely because I’m getting married on 9/29/19, and cannot watch the game, live. That is why the Bills will win: only because I won’t be able to bask in the glory as Josh Allen leads a last-second 4th quarter comeback with ice in his veins; explode in ecstasy as Ed Oliver buries Tom Brady in the turf time after time; and cackle at the refs as Jerry Hughes is—for the first time in modern history—NOT penalized on a Brady sack. But, in all seriousness, this is it the kind of immaculately karmic slap-in-the-face that—as a lifelong, die-hard, screaming-at-the-television-since-I-was-8 Bills fan—I have come to expect as the norm: if something good will happen, it won’t happen to me. We here, in Western New York, have grown up loving hardcore punk and emo: music that intertwined with the feeling that the cards are—and have always been—stacked against us. Blue-collar tunes for blue-collar dudes and dudettes. And part of me has always wondered whether the music that many of the friends who I watch Bills games with grew out of that blue-collar, always punched-down, four-super-bowls-no-rings kind of mentality, or whether that mentality pushed us all to write and play those styles and songs. Now, I’d like to take a look at strength-of-schedule. Prior to the 2019 season, we knew the Bills—in what seems like the first occurrence thereof in a quarter century—were waltzing into a schedule that was decidedly NOT one of the most strenuous in all the league. Back in April of this year, we were ranked as having the 6th easiest schedule (or 27th most difficult). Looking back to last year, we had the 18th most difficult. In 2017? We had the 5th… most difficult! I’ll list the past seven years, below: 2019 - 27th most difficult 2018 - 18th most difficult 2017 - 5th most difficult 2016 - 10th most difficult 2015 - 19th most difficult 2014 - 14th most difficult 2013 - 26th most difficult (a boon… Wasted) So, this year, going in, we had the 27th most difficult strength of schedule (granted… this number is derived prior to the season starting). Not since 2013 have we been within 9—count them: N-I-N-E—spots on the rankings. We started 2019 without having to stare up at a mountain ahead of us for the first time in a long time! Extrapolate that into the season so far, and things have—for the first time since 99.999999999% of the Music City Debacle—begun tilting our way. From the Miami meltdown to Big Ben’s season-ending injury; from Sam Darnold’s mono to the elevation of The Rosen One by Brian Flores and the Failphins; and from The Sure-to-be-Superbowl Browns transforming into The Meh on The Lake to the lowly Lions snapping the Bolts in half last week. Things are… dare I say it? Dare I? Looking up!
And just when Bills fans were fretting the hammy of Devin Singletary, we run up against the NFL’s overcooked noodles of run defense: The Bengals. Rated as having the NFL’s worst run defense of 2019, the Bills can let Singletary mend for the Pats game, and with their improved O-Line, we still should be able to make some hay against the orange and black. And what are the Bengals best at? Exactly what we are best at preventing: the passing game. This matchup plays to our strengths on both sides of the ball. Add in a home crowd, at their home opener, who has NEVER in Buffalo Bills history seen their team return from the first two road games 2-0, and this game has all the looks of a Buffalo Bills romp! I’ll catch this one, and report back. Go Bills!