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Stats Wizard: Another 3-2 start for Bills, but with hope this year will be different

Week Five saw the Bills fall victim to a fourth-quarter comeback by Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals and after what was a rather promising first month, Buffalo finds themselves with a 3-2 record for the fourth straight season.

Buffalo’s pass defense, though allowing their first 300-yard passing game since Week Two of 2016, was still strong with their fourth multi-interception game of the season – they had all of four in each of the last two seasons. The Bills are one of three teams, along with the Steelers and Jaguars, to hold opponents under an 80.0 passer rating in all of their season contests. Overall, they have the fewest passing touchdowns allowed, with two, and rank third in the NFL with eight interceptions – making them the first team with at least eight interceptions and no more than two passing scores allowed through five games played since the St. Louis Rams in 2012.

Their rush defense was also strong in this one, after surrendering 147 yards one the ground to the Atlanta Falcons in Week Four, they managed to hold the Bengals to just 65 yards on 27 carries; however, Joe Mixon did rush for his first career touchdown, a five-yard go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter.

As good as the defense was and has been this season, their offense was equal, but opposite against Cincinnati. LeSean McCoy’s woes continue, as he rushed for just 63 yards on 19 carries, and is still without a score on the year – zero points through five games, he had 24 through five games last season. He ranks 14th with 279 rushing yards on the year – 39.4 percent of which came in the season opener when he rushed for 110 yards – and 27th with 3.21 yards-per-carry among 32 players with at least 40 attempts. Last season, through Week Five, he had 447 rushing yards and averaged 5.26 yards-per-touch, both ranking fourth at that time. One positive note on McCoy is that he is tied for the league lead in receptions among running backs, with 27.

As Shady has floundered this season, Tyrod Taylor has flourished. But that was not the case in this one, as he had his worst game of the season with season-lows in completion percentage (54.1), passer rating (63.6), yards-per-attempt (4.49), he was sacked a season-high six times, and threw his first interception since Week One.

Frightening as it may be for Buffalo fans to see their beloved Bills sitting on that same 3-2 record that they began each season since 2014 – seasons all ending in futility – their defense ranks first with 14.8 points-per-game allowed, Buffalo ranks second with a +8 turnover differential, they have the fifth best pass blocking offensive line according to Pro Football Focus' “Pass Blocking Efficiency” rating, which measures pressure allowed on a per-snap basis, weighting toward sacks allowed at 82.2 – up from 21st last season at 76.2 – Tyrod Taylor progression, and the hope that McCoy will find his perennial Pro Bowl stride, there remains hope that this year will be different.

On this date: In 1998, the Bills beat rookie quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts behind strong performances by Doug Flutie, who was 23-for-28, with two touchdown passes, no interceptions, and a 122.2 passer rating, and Antowain Smith, who had 130 yards on 31 touches with two rushing scores. To that point, Manning was just 1-6 in his short career, going 113-for-210, a 53.8 completion percentage, with 1,364 yards, six touchdowns to 14 interceptions, and a lowly 55.7 passer rating.

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