I realize that I am naturally a pessimist and that, to me, “hope” is a four-letter word that George Carlin missed.
But were people really holding out hope that the Buffalo Bills might make the playoffs? Four or five weeks ago, maybe, okay. The team looked surprisingly good on offense and the defense was getting stops even with half the secondary in the training room.
But heading into Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team was still 3-6 on the year. They still have teams like Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Miami Hurricanes and even sub-.500 teams like Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns are ahead of the Bills in the standings. They’re technically still in it even though we all know they weren’t really in it.
Did anyone really think that this was a playoff team when it was being led by the Thad Lewis/Jeff Tuel two-headed monstrosity? Sure, they did okay filling in for E.J. Manuel while the latter was out with a knee injury, but never at any point did I say to myself “hey, this is a team that can make the playoffs!” Granted, I took Manuel’s injury more on the pessimistic side. I was more on the side of “well, at least we can get a better pick and add another weapon or another lineman to help Manuel” and remain there today.
I never believed this group would make the playoffs. Not with a rookie quarterback at the helm, not with the offensive line in the shape it’s in and not with a dearth of talent at the wide receiver spot. Robert Woods has had a nice game or two, but he still needs to come a long way before the offense is dynamic enough to really put pressure on teams.
I understand what it’s like being a Buffalo fan and get where the fan base is coming from. Between the Bills and the Sabres, there isn’t a whole lot to cheer for in Buffalo most years. So when this team nearly shocked the New England Patriots in Week 1 (eventually succumbing to a last-second field goal), you could feel this wasn’t going to be the same crappy Bills team we’ve been accustomed to.
Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy watching this team. It’s the first time in a long time that the Bills have been competitive and entertaining. But anyone who thought this group had a shot at the playoffs needs to pump the brakes and bring themselves back to reality.
If the Bills have another strong draft, maybe next year we can start talking playoffs. Until then? Just start looking forward to April.