OPINION: Favorites no more

Remember when the Bills beat the Chiefs?

It’s been just about a year since the idea of the Buffalo Bills winning a Super Bowl started to percolate for me. A Week 9 win last Nov. 9 against the Seattle Seahawks was the game that did it for me.

Maybe you were there sooner than me. Perhaps you took a little longer to arrive there, or maybe you never did. It doesn’t really matter at this point.

No, Sunday’s thrashing at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts did not end the Bills' season, nor did it take them out of playoff contention and, thus, entirely out of the Super Bowl conversation.

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For the record, as of Monday morning, the Bills were tied with the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams with the third-best odds to win the Super Bowl, only behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs.

Remember when the Bills beat the Chiefs? That was fun.

Sunday was not any fun.

The Bills got dominated by the Colts on the ground. I predict by mid-week that we’ll have heard the phrase "punched in the mouth" so many times that we all might start bleeding a little, if only from our ears.

That doesn’t make characterizing Sunday’s performance that way wrong, of course. The Colts absolutely pounded the Bills with their running game on the way to an easy 41-15 win.

Getting physically manhandled was the biggest issue in this game, but it wasn’t the only factor.

Josh Allen was sloppy, and playing from behind didn’t help. As I’m writing this, I’ve yet to see updated MVP odds, but that was not anything resembling a good performance from the Bills' quarterback.

Fair or not, Sunday was a game where the Bills needed more from Allen, and he simply couldn’t provide it. Staring down receivers and forcing balls into coverage in lousy conditions is not a solid plan of attack. With no support from a running game and playing from behind all day long, Allen simply could not put enough good plays together to keep his team afloat.

Much like the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars two weeks ago, penalties were a problem for the Bills in this game. Extending Indianapolis drives when the Bills managed to stop the Colts, and making things harder for the offense were added challenges the Bills did not need on a day where they were physically overmatched. Of course, being physically overmatched is the sort of thing that leads to penalties so they kind of go hand-in-hand.

The way the Bills handled their drive right before halftime left a lot to be desired.

Down 24-7 following a disastrous unforced error by kick returner Isaiah McKenzie, the Bills took over with a full compliment of timeouts and 1:54 on the clock. Buffalo gained 33 yards on three plays to start the drive, but head coach Sean McDermott waited until more than a minute had run off the clock to use hits first timeout.

From here, that looks an awful lot like a coach playing for a field goal in a game that was already clearly getting away from the Bills.

With the score still 24-7, settling for a field goal attempt on 4th-and-5 from the Colts' 31-yard line on the Bills' second possession of the second half gives us even more reason to question McDermott for his choices.

So to recap, the quarterback was sloppy and bad, the run defense got annihilated and the coach wimped out.

Oh, and the Bills are now looking up at the New England Patriots in the AFC East.

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The No. 1 seed in the conference is a pipe dream at this point, even with the Tennessee Titans losing to the Houston Texans on Sunday. Thanksgiving night against the Saints in New Orleans looms, followed by a Monday night game at home against the Patriots, and then a road game against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

Yes, every game is an opportunity for the Bills to re-establish themselves as a team to be reckoned with in an AFC that is feeling wide-open.

It is also right to characterize the Bills as limping into a stretch of games that could see their playoff hopes, let alone Super Bowl dreams, take a serious hit before we even reach December. Cruising to a division title has turned into wondering about tiebreakers amongst the other four AFC teams with six wins. Another three teams in the conference have five wins.

Any margin for error is blowing away with the leaves in the yard. The Bills have to get right quick, or else we’ll be bagging up those Super Bowl dreams and putting them at the curb.

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