As I write this, the Bills are 100-1 shots to win the Super Bowl – tied with the Tennessee Titans for worst chance – and yet harsh as that may seem, the only reactions from a Buffalo fan that make sense to me range from “Yes!” to “Hell Yes!”, depending on their personal demeanor. When you were riding the longest streak of not making the playoffs by ANY franchise in ALL FOUR major American sports leagues, there is little room for complaint or hurt feelings. Seriously, think about it; seemingly All-Time perennial loser franchises like the San Diego Padres, the Sacramento Kings, The New York Islanders (I’ll be kind here and not mention the Sabres) – Good God, even the Cleveland Browns(!) – have made the playoffs since the last time Buffalo did it in 1999 (AKA: Last Century). And considering that going into this year things looked not much different than most other recent years, until it looked even worse with the selloff of their best player (on offense) Sammy Watkins right before the season started (among other seemingly “tanking” moves during the season like creating a pointless and somewhat destructive QB controversy for a week), if you are a Bills fan and not jumping for joy at playing a road game in Jacksonville as a big underdog (8.5 points and growing) right now, you’re either really cynical or you just woke from two decades of unconsciousness and don’t understand yet why you can’t really wear your beloved #11 Scott Norwood jersey outside anymore.
Now, to be clear, I’m hardly saying this had – up until that last second Bengal Touch Down pass at least – been a Banner Year for Buffalo (and Banner Year is probably not the best phrase to use here anyway, considering the subject). Yes, the Bills were outscored overall by 57 points and needed a total collapse at home by the Baltimore Ravens last week just to get here, yes, they have the 26th ranked Offense and general metrics that scream “6-10 Team” despite the standings saying 9-7, and so yes, they may even be one of the weaker Bills teams this decade, but like my good friend* and NFL Maverick Al Davis used to say, “Just win, Baby.” And the Bills did just win enough to make the playoffs. Sure, they’re nowhere near as good as the 2004 team, or maybe even the 2014 team, the last two times the Bills finished as high as 9-7, but so what? Those teams were home watching the playoffs as soon as the season ended and this year’s Bills, for now finds themselves 3 “just wins” away from another shot at Glory. So, if finally being that close to Glory again after all that time doesn’t bring a hearty “Hallelujah!” along with it for any self-proclaimed Bills fan, all I can think to say to them is: “Hey, glad you’re no longer in that coma, though I think I’ll leave it to someone else to explain to you about that Norwood Jersey…”
Tomorrow: Part 2: Game Breakdown.
*Not really. We never even met. I did kind of like him till he went Full On Howard Hughes towards the end though.