It's not an overstatement to say that Sunday's win in Arizona saved the Bills season. It temporarily ended the sting of the back to back brutal losses to the Patriots and Niners and sent them back East with a .500 record. Adding bonus to the big day, the Patriots were caught sleeping in Seattle and got knocked off by the Seahawks. So that left the Bills, along with New England, the Jets and the Dolphins all even at 3-3. The standings say that the Bills are a "first place team". Your eyes should say they are still way more pretender than contender.
I came here not to bury the Bills, but not to praise them either. From the beginning of the season I said they were a team that could contend because they would be good enough to beat the bad teams and there were enough of those on the schedule to keep them afloat. The 3-3 record so far has them right where I expected after 6 games. What surprised me was just how wretched they were in the three losses to the contenders. But because they survived like a dying man in the desert Sunday, they now hold on to the chance to make those blowouts just statistical nightmares, not season definers.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a good quarterback at the moment. Please don't tell me he has never been good and never had good moments because there is evidence to the contrary. But he can only survive in this league by making all of the smart and simple plays and playing to his strengths. While I don't expect or even hope for him to make the special plays or complete the deep balls, he is now missing on some of the simple, basic throws that can crush a team of limited offensive ability like Buffalo. Do I think Chan Gailey has lost at least a percentage of faith in Fitz? Absolutely. Why else would he have tried that ridiculous Brad Smith throw in the 4th quarter (there is no other excuse other than temporary insanity). But because of a glaring front office omission, Chan has nowhere else to go at quarterback. If CJ Spiller can stay healthy and Fred Jackson can get on track, they can at least become a team that can ground up a defense.
I still hold out hope that the defense can be average or slightly above this season. I know the Cardinals offensive line stinks, but Mario Williams and the defensive line showed signs of life that only seemed possible with CPR after the previous weeks. The secondary actually made a few plays including the overtime interception to Jairus Byrd that might have been the most important play all season. They will still struggle against the good quarterbacks in the NFL, but (breaking news) not every team has a good quarterback.
Sunday is an absolute must win for the Bills. The Titans are not as bad as many thought and they showed a lot of pride when they beat the Steelers last week. Matt Hasselbeck hasn't been in his prime since ARod was a hitter, but he can still make plays. Chris Johnson hasn't been the same back since he got weighed down by all of that Bud Adams money. But going into the bye, back at home, at least in the race on paper, Sunday is a game the Bills have to have. Winning won't prove they are a contender, but at least it will allow us to all pretend for a couple more weeks.