Allow me to address the fine people who are interested only in the facts, especially when they conveniently feed their limitless appetite for optimism about their favorite football team. The Bills are alone atop the AFC East for the first time since they opened the 2014 season with two straight victories.
Folks, that's a fact.
It was true Sunday when the Bills beat the dreadful Jets, 21-12, before 68,751 fans in New Era Field. The Patriots lost their opener Thursday and Hurricane Irma wiped out the Dolphins-Bucs game scheduled for Sunday in Miami, leaving the Bills with the division lead after the opener.
You want facts?
The Bills outgained the Jets, 408-214, and had 190 yards rushing. LeSean McCoy gained 110 yards rushing. Since 2010, McCoy leads the NFL with 34 games with at least 100 yards rushing, and his teams have a 29-5 record over that span. Shady also leads the league with 2,272 yards rushing since joining the Bills.
Tyrod Taylor completed 16 of 28 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns Sunday. The Bills held the Jets to 38 yards rushing. They picked off two passes. They didn't take any stupid penalties or mismanage coach's challenges, the hallmark of Rex Ryan-coached teams during his tenure in Buffalo.
Certain facts are indisputable, but they shouldn't get in the way of the truth. And the truth is the Bills have are a long, long way from being taken seriously as a postseason contender. If they continue playing the way they did Sunday against the Jets, they're headed for another lost season.
"It wouldn't have mattered if we would have beaten New England in Week One," veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said in the Bills' upbeat locker room. "It's Week One. We still have 15 more games. It's a long season. You have to take each week, continue to build and not start drinking the Kool-Aid."
Right about now seems an appropriate time to spike the Kool-Aid with a heavy dose of reality. They did enough to win the game Sunday, but the reality was they were only marginally better than the worst team in the league. Anyone who watched the game Sunday would have drawn the same conclusion.
The Bills have missed the postseason for 17 straight seasons. As anyone paying attention during the drought would attest, three consecutive turns does not always equate to a successful trip around the block. They have lost their way so many times that you wondered if they needed a GPS to find Abbott Road, let alone navigate a playoff run.
In 2011, they opened the season with three straight wins and were 4-1 before losing seven straight and missing the postseason. Buffalo started 2008 with four straight wins, fell apart and missed the playoffs. They were 0-4 in 2004 before winning nine of 11 and losing to Pittsburgh's junior varsity … and missing the playoffs.
Fact: The Bills have won the opener eight times since 2000.
Fact: The Bills have failed to make the playoffs since 1999.
Obviously, winning the opener beats the alternative. The Bills were almost in a no-win situation against the Jets. If they won the game, which they did, it would have come with an asterisk because it was the Jets. Losing to the Jets as a nine-point favorite was practically inconceivable.
The Bills said all the right things Sunday, you know, about how any win in the NFL is a good win. The Jets are one terrible football team that might not win a game all season. They were intent on playing to their low standards Sunday but managed to stay within reach until Buffalo put together a respectable 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter. The Bills can expect a considerably stiffer challenge next week in Carolina.
"We have to play a lot of talented teams," guard Richie Incognito said. "We have a tough schedule. There's a tough schedule every year. This is one step in the right direction. We come back Wednesday and get grinding on Carolina."
Other teams with considerably more talent will be geared to stop McCoy and take their chances with an offense thin on talent overall. They're going to make Taylor and his collection of new receivers beat them with their mediocre passing game. Buffalo will need to run when the other teams expect them to run, which they failed to accomplish in the fourth quarter Sunday.
Taylor was no different Sunday than he was most days. He made a few plays with his legs, completed a majority of his passes and threw a couple of 1-yard touchdown passes. He missed open receivers over the middle. He did what he does. But what he does hasn't been inspiring enough during his two seasons as the starter.
Buffalo will face quarterbacks who are considerably better than 38-year-old Josh McCown, who after the loss Sunday fell to 2-21 over his last three-plus seasons while playing for teams desperate for any quarterback. The Bills can expect to face receivers more dangerous than Jets prodigy Robby Anderson.
OK, so the Bills won the opener Sunday. They're in first place.
Rejoice, Bills fans. Enjoy the fun while you can.