Barring the usual suspects, a lot of pundits expected the Buffalo Bills to be the dark horse of the NFL this season. A surprise defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening fixture of the new campaign wasn’t ideal, but the Bills got back to winning ways against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.
However, it’s not just Buffalo’s strong roster that makes them hot favorites for the AFC East and the AFC Conference. Kansas City lost to the Baltimore Ravens, with the defeat posing more questions than it answered. Does Sean McDermott’s team have what it takes to prize the door open? At first glance, the answer is “yes”.
An Improved Running Game
After the Bills lost to the Chiefs in the Conference game in 2020, the coach announced his franchise was going to analyze ways of enhancing its running game. In Buffalo’s 35-0 destruction of the Dolphins, the changes were more evident than ever. Running Back Devin Singletary claimed the biggest highlight of the night when slammed a 46-yard touchdown run right up the middle.
Against Kansas City, the run will be more important than ever. This has been the case for Chiefs’ opponents for a while, yet the first two matches of the season appear to show an exaggerated weakness right now. The Chiefs have conceded 404 rushing yards already, which partly explains why the American football odds for the Bills are as short as +450 to win the AFC. Kansas City is still the favorite at +220, yet the odds are the closest they have been for a couple of seasons.
For those who don’t think any of this makes a difference in the regular season, you should go back to last year when the Chiefs finished 14-2 and the Bills 13-3. It was the Chiefs’ victory over the Bills in the regular season that secured them home footing throughout the playoffs. Of course, McDermott’s men were dumped out by their divisional rivals on the road to the Superbowl by 38 points to 24.
The Quirkiness of Josh Allen
Josh Allen is one hell of a quarterback. It’s hard to love him all the time because he does some stupid things that most supporters can’t understand. Still, that’s why the Bills Mafia love to watch the NFL season unfold. This season, though, the franchise quarterback appears to be much more aligned with the playbook.
Josh Allen surpassed 10,000 career pass yards today while making his 45th career start
He joins HOF Jim Kelly as the only Bills to do so in their first 45 career starts
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) September 19, 2021
Take the touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs against Miami. The adage says QBs shouldn’t roll one way and throw to the other. Well, Allen did it and combined with Diggs for a spectacular score. Of course, this sort of stuff shouldn’t be too new to Bills’ fans seeing as he’s only the second player to reach 10,000 passing yards for the franchise in 45 games. Jim Kelly was the other player.
The NFL is a league where inventiveness wins football matches because defenses don’t know what to expect. With Allen at the helm, there will always be an era of unpredictability that will confuse the other side, leading the bookmakers to quote the Bills as +1100 joint-third-favorites for Superbowl LVI.
The Chiefs will be the team to beat, so Buffalo fans shouldn’t assume they will crumble. They won’t. They have Patrick Mahomes. But the NFL odds show that the experts believe it’s the closest the AFC Conference has been for a while.