Bills’ Super Bowl window is closed

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Alexander The Great. Xerxes. Achilles. Cassius Clay. Colin Powell. The Buffalo Bills.

A certain frog once sang the line, “one of these things is not like the other.”

The sore thumb in the bunch is the Buffalo Bills, specifically the 2020 edition of the team that stacks up with the rest of those winners only in the minds of Bills fans – not a totally unwarranted perception given what they dealt with for 20 years.

Last season the Bills only lost four games, including the AFC Championship game to the Chiefs. Following an offseason of being hailed as the AFC favorites, the layup pick to win the AFC East, and an onslaught of Josh Allen MVP predictions, the Bills have already lost six games this season.

The Allen-McDermott Bills peaked last season. Allen was in the third year of his rookie deal and the uptick in his play was enough to offset the defense taking a relative step back from what it had been the previous two seasons.

The nature of rookie quarterback contracts in the NFL has arrived in Buffalo. Brandon Beane and McDermott have staved off collapse for one season, but the clock started this past offseason when Allen earned a six-year, $258M extension from Buffalo. Allen, alongside Patrick Mahomes, follows in the footsteps of Jared Goff and Carson Wentz as the next young quarterback to have to prove if they’re truly elite to the point of offsetting the roster deficiencies that are bound to come with their contract taking up such a large percentage of the cap.

Although the Bills have consistently drafted well the past few years, it’s fair to say some regression may be on the way, as is usually the case with teams that string together a few good drafts. This should be scary for Bills fans, as they’ve already given smaller contract extensions to key players on the roster they simply aren’t going to be able to afford possibly next season, but definitely in 2023.

Allen, Stefon Diggs, Tre’Davious White, and Dion Dawkins’ cap hits could put the Bills, currently with the ninth-least amount of cap space heading into next season, in quite the cap squeeze. There may not be room  to keep the best safety duo in the league in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer together, or to keep some of the rotational pass rushers that have made the defensive line so effective, or to keep Matt Milano on a $44M deal. These are significant since the team has not really hit on any linebackers or cornerbacks in it’s past two drafts.

And all that is not even to mention the struggling offensive line which has been largely ignored sans Spencer Brown in Buffalo’s last two drafts.

This is a massive uphill battle for Buffalo. And it happens right as the Patriots, fresh off nailing two drafts, and other AFC teams like the Bengals, Chargers, and Colts are on the rise.

It wouldn't be hyperbolic to say the Bills' Super Bowl window is closed.

Here are three more aspects of the Buffalo Bills to keep an eye on this Sunday...

Where’s Wallace At, String?

Tre’Davious White is a top five cornerback in the NFL, so naturally the Bills’ passing defense faced questions after he tore his ACL against the Saints on Thanksgiving. Levi Wallace was the next man up on Buffalo’s defense, and while it’s hard to compare Wallace to White based off games against Tom Brady, Cam Newton, and another in which the Patriots threw the ball three times, here’s how Wallace has fared:

Brady only targeted White three times a few weeks ago, with two of the passes being short completions to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin with only two yards after the catch. The other was Breshad Perriman’s 58-yard walk off touchdown in overtime, on which Wallace completely lost the speedy Perriman trying to get through Bill and Buccaneer bodies alike on a drag route.

Newton targeted Wallace ten times, only completing four of the passes with minimal yards after the catch.

Run For Cover

The sometimes one-dimensional nature of Buffalo’s offense has been the focus of some criticism this season. After having some success against the Patriots three weeks ago, Buffalo’s run offense has seemingly improved despite tough matchups with the Buccaneers and Panthers.

The game script against the Buccaneers saw the Bills largely abandon the run early on, but Devin Singletary still went over 50 rushing yards on only four carries and added six catches. Singletary carried that momentum to 86 yards on 22 carries against the Panthers this past week. He’ll look to get involved against a Patriots rush defense that has been the team’s Achilles heel at times this season.

Wangs of New York

You’d think Bills Mafia would channel their generational pain and trauma into laughter and comedy, but the radio war Gresh & Keefe got into with our sister station WGR in Buffalo, which I totally had nothing to do with orchestrating, exposed them as humorless spoons. Here are some of the responses…

Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today Sports