Buffalo Bills: Discipline and opportunism lead the way


Perhaps the best way to highlight the 5-2 start to the 2017 season by the Buffalo Bills, is to look at the fact they lead the NFL in turnover differential.

Even with a 5-2 record, some people will remain unconvinced about the credentials of the Buffalo Bills. This is understandable, given how many false dawns there have been in Western New York since 1999.

A prime example would be the Bills’ last 5-2 start in 2011, which turned into a 1-8 finish. Regardless, as things stand, they are a playoff contender.

So, what is the key to the Buffalo Bills’ success so far in 2017? How are they managing to play so well, considering all the talent which has left in recent months?

Pure and simple, Buffalo is playing smart and patient football. Remaining disciplined, trusting in each other and waiting for the other team to make a mistake.

Perhaps the best statistic to sum this up is the Bills’ turnover differential, which is best in the NFL. In fact it’s not even close right now, with their +14 six ahead of the second-best team.

Breaking this stat down, further reveals exactly how disciplined — and opportunistic — the Bills have truly been. They have the second-most interceptions on defense and are tied for the league lead on offense, with just one fumble.

The Buffalo Bills’ 34-14 win over the Oakland Raiders offered another prime example of their formula for success. While the Raiders gained more yards, all you needed to look at was the 4-0 turnover differential in favor of the Bills.

The highlight of the four turnovers was undoubtedly the one caused by Leonard Johnson, inside the final minute of the first half. His hit on DeAndre Washington caused a fumble, which rookie Matt Milano returned 40 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead at halftime.

After that point, there was only ever going to be one winner. And how strange is that to read, after all the pain sports fans have suffered over the years in Western New York?

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We would be remiss, if we didn’t give some credit to Tyrod Taylor, who continues to receive criticism, no matter what he does. However, it is worth noting the guy has only thrown two picks in seven games and continues to play within himself. (And let’s not forget his lack of quality options in the receiving game.)

Taylor has bought into Sean McDermott’s philosophy as much as anyone and for that, he should be commended. He’s essentially the anti-Marcell Dareus.

One other factor to consider in all this early success, is the Bills’ play at home. They are 4-0 in Buffalo for the first time since 1995.

Certainly, Taylor appreciates the advantage the team has at home. As reported by Paul Hamilton of WGR 550, the quarterback said:

"“Our fans do a great job of creating a hostile environment. Home games are important to us and we want to defend our dirt.”"

Of course, if the Buffalo Bills are to finally end their playoff drought, they will also have to find a way to win on the road. Currently sitting at 1-2 in this category, they now face a trip to New Jersey, to play the Jets.

If the Bills can win on Thursday night, they will improve to 6-2 on the season. And if they do, as noted by Jerry Sullivan of The Buffalo News, this will represent the first time since 1993, when they went to their last Super Bowl.

Now, we’re not suggesting the Bills are headed back to the big show this season. However, improving to 6-2 will only increase their chances of at least ending the longest current postseason drought in the NFL (and all four major North American sports).

Next: Was trading Marcell Dareus a smart move?

Where do you stand on the Buffalo Bills? Do you perceive them as a genuine playoff contender, or do you still have your reservations? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.