Every Buffalonian knows the saying. Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.
A strong performance from the Buffalo defense, who had been thrashed for an average of 45 points per game in their previous three match-ups, helped secure a 16-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs this past Sunday.
After three straight embarrassing losses at the hands of the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Chargers, the season seemed to be heading for the gutter.
But, this bounce back win may be just what was needed to ignite a fire for a strong final five games.
Prior to Sunday’s victory, in the 17 year playoff drought, the Bills had been over .500 through 11 games just four times.
Unfortunately, the Bills have quite the tough final stretch to overcome if this is indeed the year that will "break the curse".
Standing in their way are four games against divisional opponents, including two versus Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who are well on their way to yet another AFC East title.
The game that has to be circled on everyone’s calendar is the upcoming one, as the Patriots come to New Era Field this Sunday.
It certainly won’t be a matchup the Bills will be favored in whatsoever, but the red flag on this New England team is their defense.
If there was ever a game for Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy and the Bills sluggish offense to look flawless, it would be this one.
The Pats rank 31st in the NFL in passing yards given up per game at 270.4, and they rank 30th in the NFL in total offensive yards given up per game at 385.5.
Taylor looked like his consistent, no turnovers self against Kansas City, throwing for 183 yards and a touchdown, and also running for an additional 27 yards.
While this stat line was enough to beat a downward spiraling Chiefs team on the road, it won’t be enough against New England.
On the other side of the ball, the defense will have to be indescribably perfect.
Brady has decimated Buffalo defenses since he entered the league in 2000, and with New England averaging a league best 297.0 passing yards per game and 411.2 total yards per game, it yet again won’t be an easy feat to slow down this high powered attack.
The X-factor may just be a guy who hasn’t been in Buffalo more than a month.
Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin,
who was acquired just prior to the trade deadline from the Carolina Panthers
for a third and seventh round draft
pick, caught four passes for 104 yards
in a Week Four Carolina win over the Pats.
If the ball is thrown anywhere near the 6-foot-5 Benjamin, he typically comes down with it. It’ll be on Taylor and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison to get Benjamin the ball if he suits up Sunday, as he was out against Kansas City with a knee injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Rounding out the 2017 season following this Sunday’s match-up are two final home games against the 3-8 Indianapolis Colts and 4-7 Miami Dolphins, followed by a visit to Foxborough on Christmas Eve to face New England once again.
The 2017 regular season ends with a New Year’s Eve trip to South Beach to take on the Dolphins.
To top things off, there are quite a few teams alongside Buffalo who are "in the hunt" for an AFC wild card spot.
Anytime the Jaguars, Titans, Ravens, Bengals, Raiders and Chargers lose, odds are it helps the Bills.
While these final five games should be nothing short of an emotional roller coaster for Bills fans, all there is left to do is watch, hope, take deep breathes, and of course, trust the process.