Melissa’s Monday Musings: Sure, the Buffalo Bills Can Win the AFC East

Week 4 is still in progress but it has already been defined by injuries. Dalvin Cook  tore his ACL. Chris Carson suffered what the team is calling “a significant ankle injury” in the nightcap. Marcus Mariota left game with a hamstring injury, while Derek Carr left his with a back injury. The  Raiders offered an initial diagnosis of ‘back spasms’ and consider Carr day-to-day. But still, the news is grim.

When trainers weren’t carrying out carts or popping Odell Beckham Jr.’s dislocated finger back into place (thanks for the TV close up on that one!), there was some pretty intriguing action. Five of the early games were within a score late into the fourth quarter, and it is possible the Patriots, who many presumed would go 16-0, are not even the best team in their division.

When reporters walked into the Bills locker room following an impressive 23-17 over last year’s NFC champions, LeSean McCoy was fired up. “Y’all picked us to lose, right? Come talk to the winners,” McCoy told reporters Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News tweeted. McCoy’s swagger is understandable. Like every season since 2002, the Bills were buried in a pile of Patriots lather before the first regular game was played. When they beat the Jets in Week 1, no one took them as serious contenders for the obvious reason, strength of opponent. Now they’ve notched impressive back-to-back wins against the Broncos and Falcons and should be viewed as legitimate contenders in the AFC East. The turnover under new head coach Sean McDermott has been massive yet this is not rebuilding situation. New talent in the entirely revamped secondary has allowed only one receiving touchdown this season. Players on the defensive front have excelled as their functions have slightly altered in some cases. The strength of this team is its defense but Tyrod Taylor has performed admirably, especially given his lack of receiving depth. Overall there has been an exciting, noticeably cultural shift. If the Patriots, now tied with the Jets for second place, can’t make defensive and offensive line adjustments, this could be the Bills year as crazy as that sounded a few weeks ago.

Some more musings from Week 4


– Speaking of the SECOND PLACE Patriots, DC Matt Patricia must simplify his scheme. They just don’t have the roster talent at this point to succeed in elaborate packages. When the Panthers marched down the field to kick the go-ahead field go after the Patriots tied it up late in the fourth, I could hear the expletives in Tom Brady’s head all the way in California. Seriously, he’s got to be so frustrated.


– What more is there to say about Deshaun Watson? He’s a star in the making. Actually, he’s a star right now. Watson’s ability to single-handedly sustain a drive wth his mobility is so valuable. But he’s no one trick pony. He already has pocket awareness well beyond his years and is relatively accurate. I understand Watson’s preseason performance hardly impressed but it’s still inconceivable that some person named Tom Savage started the season.


– When the Dolphins signed Jay Cutler this preseason without giving Colin Kaepernick a look, I, for once, thought it made sense. Cutler had his best year in 2015 under In fact it’s the only time he has cracked a 90 passer rating in his career. He knows Gase’s system and is inherently more talented than these truck drivers and scientists teams were bringing in for auditions ahead of Kap. But what a clunker Cutler has been. There have already been a fair share of signature Cutler mistakes but we’re missing those tight passes with crazy velocity that would at least remind us of his potential. With Miami, Cutler is averaging less than six yards per attempt and it often looks like he’s playing with an extra dose of laziness. (Guessing he’s more zestful when cashing his paychecks!) On behalf of the American contingent of the NFL, I’m sorry London!


– Wow, Adrian Peterson is pedestrian at best now. His numbers are startling. 27 carries, 81 yards. No TDs. He only played six snaps in London. Some evil prognosticators have (jokingly?) suggested the Vikings trade for Peterson in light of the Cook injury. No way. Peterson’s a liability now. It will be fascinating to see what the Saints do with him, and how he reacts.


– MVP Watch: A total crapshoot still but here goes 1) Aaron Rodgers 2) Jared Goff 3) Tom Brady


– The Jags lost to the Jets in overtime but they didn’t have to. Jags WR Marqise Lee had one of the worst overtime performances in history,  dropping a first down that would have put the Jags in field goal range, and then muffing a punt. Guessing it wasn’t the mots solid plane ride back for Lee, though the Jags are hardly a franchise immune from error.


– Running back is far from New England’s biggest issue but I wonder if they miss LeGarrette Blount just a little bit. The Eagles won on a clock-killing drive capped by three straight Blount runs for a first down. Philip Rivers never got back on the field. Blount’s perceived value has fluctuated this season but today was a wake up call to any Blount doubters.

– Ever since Tony Romo worked Thursday Night’s national game there has been a new wave of backlash. Yes, anything associated with that time slot is susceptible to criticism. Also people LOVE dissecting announcers. I’m a huge Romo fan and admire both his energy and concurrent ability to make Jim Nantz not sound asleep. One new notion I saw floating out there today is that Romo is only awe inspiring to those who don’t really know football. That’s absurd. I don’t care how much film you watch, you’ll ever match Romo’s gift for predictive analysis. Also try turning on a non-marquee game. Half the time those analysts don’t know simple rules. I’ll take Romo’s football brain any day – and yes, I’m not embarrassed to admit I learn something every broadcast.


– Locker room celebrations are the best. We gathered six of them. My favorite this week was Sean McVay addressing his team after they beat Dallas on the road. I have a soft spot for 31-year old McVay and 70-year old Wade Phillips in the same shot. Phillips is everyone’s favorite grandpa!


– Now this is how you craft a team statement on the protests. Bravo Colts