Best of 2007: Thrills in Buffalo from the Bills

Bill DowSenior Analyst IDecember 20, 2007

IconWhile all of the NFL’s cameras have been focused on the Patriots' high-flying offense, or the all-around attack of the Dallas Cowboys, the Buffalo Bills have widely been hidden.

Whether it’s because of their division, their location, or their lack of star-power, the Bills have received little respect throughout the nation—yet they post the eighth best record in the AFC. Doesn’t sound impressive, but their story truly is.

Coming into the season, it seemed as if it would just be another cold and miserable year in Buffalo. A team in the midst of rebuilding, they lost their all-pro cornerback Nate Clements, their two stellar but aging linebackers in London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes, and their “running back of the future” Willis McGahee.

With an awful quarterback behind center, and little way to build in the draft with a mediocre spot, it didn’t seem as if Buffalo would come close to posting a winning record in 2007. They were too late to draft Adrian Peteson or Patrick Willis (two guys on their radar that are now rookie pro bowlers), and with the overall weak depth at the quarterback position, they would be stuck with a mysterious third-rounder out of Stanford.

Even when they attempted to satisfy a need, they couldn’t get it done effectively. They overpaid for Derrick Dockery, and they couldn’t get Darwin Walker to show up for training camp. This motley crew didn’t look as if it was going to pan out too well.

And then there were the injuries. I swear, every position on their team has been hurt. You’ve got the drastic, with Kevin Everett, and incomparably, Paul Posluszny, their early-second round pick to repair the problematic linebacking corps. Even the Bills’ number one pick, Marshawn Lynch, has been out for three games. The Seattle Seahawks could barely win a game in the 2006 NFC; theoretically there was no way for Buffalo to pick up more than a couple victories.

But they have. Going into week sixteen, the team is 7-6. And had they not lost to two teams on game winning field goals (Dallas and Denver), and didn’t have to play five of the seven teams ahead of them, they could easily be in the thick of the playoff race. Unfortunately for them, this wasn’t the case.

Regardless, it is absolutely remarkable as to what this team has done in 2007. They have relied on their third-round draft selection, Trent Edwards—a guy many doubted going in, to replace a four-year veteran who was a first rounder and was supposedly “progressing” going into the season.

Their defense, with John DiGiorgio and Keith Ellison up the gut, has played well enough to win seven games. And although they may be near-last in both offensive and defensive ranks, they are still above .500 with one of the hardest schedules in football.

More than anything, the 2007 Buffalo Bills proved that they had heart. They overcame the dreadful Everett situation, and used it as motivation to go out and win. Their story is not only surprising, it is mesmerizing. 

So when you are looking for a story to encapsulate a year of triumph and overcoming odds, look North, as only Super Bowl-caliber opponents have been able to stop a team projected to go 4-12.