Let’s invoke Chan Gailey’s 24-hour rule here: you have until sundown to bemoan bad calls or bad rules costing the Buffalo Bills their perfect record.
Then sober up and see there is no reason to be bitter about Sunday's 23-20 loss in Cincinnati. There's only reason to be better. The Bills are simply not good enough to think they should've won this game.
The Bills could be a good team. Good but not great. Being greater than the sum of your parts only goes so far. Sorry to use a coaching cliche here, but most of the guys playing this game are good, so you’ve got to be better than that to win your share on the road. To be worthy of a playoff spot.
There appears to be just one great team in the NFL right now — the Super Bowl champs. The Ravens are right up there, right with the Patriots. The Bills showed how beatable they can be. The Lions have two great players, and possibly a great quarterback. That’s good enough to get them to 4-0, better than everyone but the Packers. Yet, the Lions are a few 50-50 balls away from being 1-3. The only team they’ve beaten soundly is the Chiefs.
Same with the Bills, who are fortunate to be 3-1. They caught some breaks in the two comeback wins at home. They caught a bad beat in Cincinnati. That tends to happen on the road.
Chalk up two wins to the 12th man and take an honest assessment of the this team’s playoff credentials. Snicker at all those preseason power rankings that had the Bills near the bottom of the NFL if you want, but they expose an inconvenient truth: in a league where good, solid players are plentiful and rather evenly distributed, Buffalo has fewer great players than just about every one of their competitors.
These Bills are better than what we’ve seen in recent years. But I don’t think they are as talented as the 2004 group Tom Donahone assembled. And that team failed to make the playoffs. I hope we can dispense with the comparisons to the 90s juggernauts now. That only sets people up for disappointment.
The schedule only gets harder. There’s only five more games at The Ralph. The critical injuries are starting to pile up. The players the front office splurged for (Shawne Merriman, Nick Barnett, Brad Smith) haven’t made a noticeable difference. As the game film piles up, defensive coordinators are going to figure out ways to disarm the Gailey-gun offense. If they haven't already.
The Bills got off to a fast start and are still in good position at the quarter poll. But the playoff chase is not a sprint. Nor is it a marathon. It’s a grueling obstacle race, for tough mudders only.
If you’re on the band wagon, prepare for a bumpy ride.
Contact sports editor Jonah Bronstein at email@example.com.