I’m genuinely thrilled that the Bills are 5-1. The defense, until last Sunday, has been outstanding (give or take a drive here and there). The offense has been ok, not great but capable of lengthy touchdown producing drives and a seeming late game focus that has held them in good stead. (The start of games has been mediocre as Josh burns off adrenaline and waits for his focus to kick in). All in all, much better than last year.
The winds of change are blowing though and the meat of the schedule awaits them soon. Their season’s fate, in my opinion, will determined by how they fare in games against teams that aren’t awful like several have been in the early part of the schedule (Bengals, Dolphins, Giants), and the upcoming Redskins and Dolphins games… but rather against the teams that aren’t powerhouses yet quite capable of winning on any given Sunday.
I call these 50/50 games. It begins this Sunday with the Eagles and continues with Cleveland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Jets and even the Bronco’s given their defense (but I like the Bills at home). I view Dallas and New England on the road as below 50/50 shots. Not impossible but not likely wins either.
I get the distinct sense the Bills are catching the Eagles at a really bad time in some regards but at a good time in others. The bad: that has to be one angry team after getting blown out on national tv against their main division rival and getting manhandled the week before that in Minnesota.
In addition, this is their 3rd straight week on the road. That is a tough schedule. Their whole season may well come down to this Sunday. Critical junctures like this tend to galvanize a team’s focus and energize performance.
The fear of embarrassment is a strong motivator and I expect the Eagles, if their locker room and culture are right, to play this Sunday as if it is a playoff game. There have been some rumblings that all is not well in that clubhouse.
The Eagles have talent all over the place on their roster. This is NOT the Dolphins, Bengals or Giants. Their tight ends, Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz are outstanding.
They have a very good defensive line and some studs on the offensive line as well. They are capable of playing very well. It is only 2 years removed from the Eagles being Super Bowl champions and their team still has a good core of players from that team.
However, the Eagles have been erratic. They have not gotten consistent play out of Carson Wentz and their offensive line. Wide receivers and the defensive backfield have been either underperforming (the O line and wide outs) or mediocre (the D backfield). They have key injuries on the team as well including Jason Peters, Nigel Bradham, Darren Sproles, DeSean Jackson, Tim Jernigan, Hassan Ridgeway and Lane Johnson. Those are major losses if they don’t play.
So the Eagles 3-4 record suggests they are mediocre. Their talent suggests they are capable of more. Their motivation should be extremely high.
In other words, the Bills need to match the Eagles’ intensity and play at a very high level if they expect to win Sunday. This one is not going to be a waltz in the park. It is one of the 50/50 games and, in my opinion, will define who this Bills team is in 2019.
As an aside, the geezer’s chair will be moving from 10 feet in front of the tv to the upper deck at New Era field for Sunday. Definitely looking forward to it. It was also really a pleasure to meet the Bills Mafia Editor-in-Chief Robyn Mundy on her recent visit to “the homeland”)!
Editor’s babble: It was a pleasure putting a face to the ‘Geezer’ while in our beloved city. Thanks to Joe for his insightful contributions to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @Joe_Tauriello.