The outlook for the Buffalo Bills in the 2023 season did not look great during the summer and after their Week 1 defeat at the hands of the New York Jets.
There was little doubt that the Bills had some very talented players on both sides of the ball, but their season ended in shockingly disappointing fashion last year. Even though they had homefield advantage, they were dispatched by the Cincinnati Bengals in the divisional playoffs.
That defeat came a year after the Bills had been defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional playoffs and that loss came one year after an overtime loss to the Chiefs in the AFC title game.
There was a feeling that the championship window was closing on this talented team, and that feeling grew even stronger when the Bills fell to the Jets 22-16 in the season opener. The Jets lost Aaron Rodgers 4 plays into that game due to an Achilles injury, but they still found a way to defeat the Bills.
Assumption of premature demise was wrong
If the Bills had diminished skills and talent, somebody forgot to tell head coach Sean McDermott, quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
The loss to the Jets was not indicative of any major problems within the locker room and there has clearly been no lack of confidence on a team that has been to the postseason in four straight years.
They were hungry to get back to work in Week 2 when they hosted the Las Vegas Raiders. While the visitors have been an up-and-down team, the Raiders have a fairly talented roster and were coming off a Week 1 victory.
Nevertheless, the Bills took them apart in front of their home fans, recording a 38-10 triumph. Allen looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the league as he completed 31 of 37 passes for 274 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.
He got support in the running game from James Cook, who gained 123 yards on 17 carries. Diggs and fellow wideout Gabe Davis tormented the Raiders secondary with 13 receptions for 58 yards.
While the Bills offense was having a party, the defense played shut down against against the Raiders. Las Vegas was held to 240 yards of total offense.
The Bills appeared to be back on track and they proved it again the following week in a 37-3 victory over Washington..
Big challenge from Miami
While the Jets were struggling badly and the once-mighty Patriots did not have the offensive firepower to challenge the Bills, the Dolphins were rolling.
They won their first 3 games and the Week 3 triumph was a 70-20 victory over the Broncos that included 726 yards of offense.
Many expected the Dolphins to show off their speed in Week 4 at Buffalo against the Bills. However, the Dolphins had not seen a team as strong as the Bills this season and they were unable to unleash their offense. The Miami defense also struggled badly, and the result was a 48-20 runaway for the Bills.
The Dolphins tried to answer the Bills as they responded with TD drives after each of the Bills first two scores, but the Bills asserted themselves at that point.
The Bills held Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa 282 yards and 1 touchdown, while Buffalo defensive back Micah Hyde came through with an interception.
Allen was razor sharp as he completed 21 of 25 passes for 320 yards and 4 touchdowns. Three of those TD passes went to Diggs, who tormented the Dolphins with his speed, hands and elusiveness.
Bills remain kings of the AFC East
The Bills have registered 3 consecutive dominant victories, and the win over the Dolphins was most impressive.
Buffalo is not ready to surrender its title as the best team in the AFC just yet. However, it's not time to anoint the Bills as the team to beat in the division or the conference. It is still very early in the season, and when they face the Dolphins in the final game of the regular season, it may be for the division title and playoff seeding.
But right now, they are the best team in the division, and they may be able to fulfill much greater aspirations than that.