Don't Get Confused: The Bills Are a Bad Team


It’s not time for optimism in Buffalo. Sorry, Bills fans.

The Buffalo Bills just beat the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, which was another strange turn in their season which has included a 27-6 blow out win over the surely-playoff-bound Minnesota Vikings and a 22-0 blow out loss to the inept-looking Green Bay Packers. Somehow, the Bills — pegged by many as the worst team in the NFL — are 2-3. (They also kill any hope of applying the transitive property to the NFL.)

The Bills are not about to make a playoff rally. They’re likely still bound for the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. They’ll soon start thinking about Houston’s Ed Oliver.

Here are a few fun Bills’ stats to chew on.

  • The Bills haven’t had 300 total yards of offense in any game.
  • They have two passing touchdowns to seven interceptions.
  • They have been outscored by 55 points over the course of the season.
  • They are averaging 12.6 points per game.

Those numbers are not good. The Bills’ start to the season feels really strange, because it’s pretty darn strange. They shouldn’t be winning — but they’re winning. That said, it’s not unprecedented for a team like the Bills to have two wins under their belt after five games. They’re the fifth team since 1978 to manage a 2-3 start while scoring fewer than 75 points and being at least -45 in point differential. The expected wins based on their points for and points against so far this year is 0.9 wins, which more accurately reflects where they are. Here are the other four to start 2-3 with such poor offensive and overall points allowed numbers:

  • 1980 Green Bay Packers: 61 point for, 123 points against, finished 5-10-1.
  • 1990 Phoenix Cardinals: 60 PF, 121 PA. finished 5-11.
  • 1985 Washington Redskins: 73 PF, 131 PA, Finished 10-6.
  • 2005 New Orleans Saints: 71 PF, 139 PA, finished 3-13 (Hurricane Katrina year).

The 1985 Redskins managed a winning season. So the numbers are saying there’s a chance? Well, not really.

Washington missed the playoffs, so the outcome of the season wasn’t great. But they also were a very different team than the Bills. The Redskins were in the throes of an impressive era with three Super Bowl wins in a 10-year span and were an otherwise perennial playoff team in the 1980’s. They were a good team that got off to a bad start. One loss, in particular, helped push the Redskins into this category: A drubbing at hands of 85 Bears (who finished 15-1 and led the NFL in seven defensive categories).

The rest of the group represents what the Bills can expect in the coming games. They’re going to keep getting outscored, but they’re not going to keep winning. Barring a moment when the NFL game clicks for quarterback Josh Allen, who had 82 passing yards and an interception in Week 5, the Bills are on their way to the league’s basement, just like we all expected when the season began.

The Bills are just one game out of a playoff spot after five weeks, but they are also just one game ahead of the league’s worst record (only Oakland, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Arizona, the New York Giants, and yes, Atlanta have fewer wins). They are going to be a lot closer to finishing below those teams than challenging for a playoff spot when we look back in a month.

When it comes to the future, that may not be the worst outcome in Buffalo, either. They’ve languished in NFL purgatory for nearly two decades, winning between 5 and 9 games in 15 of the last 16 seasons. After tearing off the playoff band-aid a year ago, it’s time to start fresh, and that will likely include plenty of ugly games in 2018.