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It’s the team that nobody saw coming. For the past few years, the Bills have been the laughing stock of the AFC East. They were the one team bringing down a division with the power house Patriots and the better than average Jets and Dolphins.
Not anymore. The Bills have quietly been putting together a good team and this year, we are finally seeing just how good this team and Harvard graduate QB Ryan Fitzpatrick can be. The Bills realize this and recently gave him a big contract extension of 6 years $59 million, locking up their franchise man for years to come. That extension is bad news for the rest of the AFC East.
He’s been worth every penny of that, having a career year, and has the Bills sitting in a 1st place tie atop the AFC East with the New England Patriots at 5-2. He’s ranked 6th in the league in quarter back, rating at 97.8 for the season. The Bills are third in the league, scoring 30.1 points per game this year.
While only being ranked 13th overall in passing at 239.6 yards a game, the running game has received a boost from their QB play ranking 5th overall at 140.6 a game. Running back Fred Jackson, who is having an MVP type season, is fourth in the league in yards with 721 and is ranked fourth among running backs in receiving with just over 350 yards.
He’s tied for first with Matt Forte of runs over 20 yards ranks second in yards per game with 103.0 and is fourth in yards per carry at 5.5, but is second in running backs to LeSean McCoy. DeMarco Murray and Michael Vick are one and two, but have half the carries of McCoy and Jackson. Jackson also has zero fumbles this season so far.
While the Bills defense isn’t one of the better in the league, they still put fear into a team as they lead the league in interceptions with 18 and three touchdowns off interceptions. This defense has potential the potential to be real solid in the coming years if they can keep everyone healthy. They showed this last week shutting out the Washington Redskins 23-0 and racking up 9 sacks in the process.
To the Bills credit, they’ve also been doing this against quality opponents. They’ve beaten Kansas City and Oakland, both who are tied for first with San Diego for the AFC West all sitting at 4-3. They’ve beaten the Patriots once already and beat a good Philadelphia Eagles team who has recently been turning things around after a horrible start.
They took care of business against an obviously weaker Washington team, shutting them out last week. The Bills only losses come at the hands of the Bengals and the Giants. Both these teams are atop of their divisions and have a 5-2 record. The Bills should have more respect than they do.
Consider that the Patriots have a worse defense in football, giving up 424.1 yards a game compared to the Bills who are 385.9, the Patriots are considered playoff contenders and potential Super Bowl threats. The same could be said for the Packers who rank below the Bills in yards per game giving up 391.0 and currently hold the 31st spot in opponents passing yards per game, yet they’re widely regarded as being the best team in football.
These teams are led by their quarterbacks and Fitzpatrick has proven he can do that. Add to that a more potent running attack than either Brady or Rodgers has and this is a team that can go deep into the playoffs.
If that’s not enough for you, think about the New Orleans Saints team that won the Super Bowl a few years ago. They are very much like this Bills team in that they have a strong quarterback, a high scoring offense, and a defense that isn’t that great, but forces turnovers and scores points.
This Bills team is as good as they’re record and play this season has been. In a quarterback driven league they’ve found their man in Ryan Fitzpatrick. They are proving they can score points with anyone in the league and if teams with good quarterbacks and bad defenses can be in the hunt for the Super Bowl the same should be said for the Bills.
The fan base has been waiting patiently for this time to come and it has come quicker than expected, but not as a shock at all. So the next time you go to dismiss the Bills as a top team in this league, think about what they’re doing and show them some respect.
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