It’s taken me a while to get back my optimism. I started the season with real hope for making the playoffs. Not a lot. But a little goes a long way.
Then came Kyle Orton.
I’ve admitted I was opposed to this switch when it happened. It really wasn’t so much about who was the better quarterback. It was about the kind of the season we were going to see. A passer with the skill set and build of E.J. Manuel is something we’ve never seen before. A journeyman with iffy accuracy and no mobility? I felt like I could script the rest of the year from memory.
Three wins and one Patriots game later, it’s… debatable. No one will argue with the record, obviously, but no one’s rushing to buy a jersey either. Defense and special teams have been the biggest reason this team is 5-3. Orton has been (Dear God, why do I have to write this again?) as good as he’s needed to be and nothing more. At one point against the Jets, the Bills had six drives start within 50 yards of the goal line. Only one of them resulted in a touchdown. Before the game-winning TD at home against Minnesota, the Bills’ scored a field goal with 4 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. Then nothing, until that last drive. Against the Vikings.
But here is where I’ll admit I was wrong. Orton’s throws to Hogan and Watkins could not have been completed by E.J. Not right now. Since benching Manuel, they’ve gone from treading water to a playoff push. It’s undeniable. It was the right move. Now comes the hard part.
There are only two teams left in the Bills' remaining eight games that don’t have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. Of the playoff contenders, three have Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks. If the Bills are for real, they need a win this Sunday against Kansas City. It’s as simple as that. The Chiefs have legit wins against the Chargers and whoever that was wearing the Patriots’ jerseys a few weeks back. But their other three came against the Rams, Dolphins, and Jets. And no one accidentally thought of Alex Smith when I mentioned the MVPs. The Bills can win this game.
Our defense is for real. Sammy Watkins is a highlight reel waiting to happen. And that crowd. OH, that crowd. Bills fans haven’t had a game to go to in three weeks and the team has a legit chance to go 6-3 for the first time since Flutie Flakes were a thing. The Ralph might bear a striking resemblance to the USO show in Apocalypse Now by the time this game kicks off. I can't wait.