Let the Haters Hate

After years of watching the rebuilding train ride around in circles, Sunday’s win in Chicago was a shot of excitement straight to the veins of Bills fans. Between the gritty, never say die win and the news of the Pegula family being chosen to purchase the team and keep them in Buffalo for decades to come, it could be argued that this could be the greatest week a Bills fan has experienced since the turn of the century.

(ESPN)
Seven 0-1 teams are ranked ahead of the Bills in ESPN’s power rankings. (ESPN)

The win in Chicago was great. EJ Manuel was consistent, the running game was exactly what it should be, and the defense came through exactly when it needed to. It seems everything is pointing to this being the year where it all comes together and we finally break free of the football god’s curse laid upon us when we let Flutie go. But what is the rest of the world outside of Buffalo saying? I’ll tell you, it’s like nothing happened.  If all you followed was the national media, you would be led to believe that the Bills won by pure luck. Why do I say this? Take a look at some of the disrespet the Bills faced leading up to the game.

  • Bleacher Report had Buffalo listed as the number one team on its weekly “teams guaranteed to lose” segment.
  • Most football pundits have Buffalo finishing 6-10 at best (with a few outliers), and the vast majority has them finishing last in the AFC East. At least Mike Rodak, the guy ESPN pays to cover the Bills, can see we’re better than that. He has us at 7-9.
  • A whopping 5% of Yahoo Pick’em users picked the Bills to win. Hey, at least we’re not Jacksonville (3%).
  • Staying on the Yahoo theme, over one-fifth of all Yahoo Survival Pick’em users can thank the Bills for their week one demise. Yes, over 20% of all players had their season come to an end because we were “supposed to lose.”  Thank goodness I picked Kansas City!  Wait a minute…

I get it. Buffalo’s record the last decade hasn’t been all that pretty. I understand that as one of the smallest markets in the NFL we don’t get our fair share of coverage, so why would anyone think any differently if they’re not actually watching what we’re doing? What I don’t get is how we’ve been disrespected after the win. Buffalo is the lowest ranked 1-0 team in ESPN’s power rankings. Chicago dropped from 10th to 18th because they must be horrible now. It can’t be because Buffalo is actually a good team… We only won because Jay Cutler made bad decisions, not because our defense pressured him into making them. Fred Jackson gained an extra 20 yards on his overtime run because Chris Conte isn’t an NFL caliber safety, not because Fred is and has been a bruiser his whole career. The Bills ran all over the Bears because their new look defense hasn’t gelled, not because we’ve upgraded our offensive line and have one of the most formidable backfield tandems (Trios? Quartets?) in the league.

It might take a whole season to put the league on notice, maybe even two to prove it’s not a fluke. The Ray Rice scandal buries even further any chance the national sports media might have had to break down why we could be a threat to the Patriots’ throne. If we beat Miami, I expect more of the same blame game afterwards on how they beat themselves and the Bills somehow squeaked by again. I say let them underestimate us, and I’m sure EJ and company are saying the same thing. Who doesn’t like being an underdog?

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