Buffalo is not the first city most people think of when they hear the word confident. Far from it.
Buffalo is known for snow, job loss, high taxes and four Super Bowl losses. Beef on WECK is nice though.
The Bills haven't won a playoff game since Jim Kelly retired, and haven't been to one since Clinton was still in office.
This is far from a confident franchise, with the big off-season news being that they changed their uniforms away from the wretched CFL Expansion team look to a more classical look with the 70s white helmets. The idea I guess was that if they were going to play bad on the field, at least they would look better doing so.
Then right before the season started, a very strange article came out in the Wall Street Journal. Most people before the season want to discover which teams have a great shot to make the playoffs, which players will have breakout seasons and who will win the Super Bowl. Not read the Wall Street Journal. In between analyzing stock market dives and unexpected economic announcements, the newspaper published the team that was the most handsome in the NFL.
The most handsome team in the NFL? Who even thinks about that, mostly because the players are seen a great majority of the time only with their helmets on. Even better was that the study also included the owner and head coach. The study ranked teams by facial symmetry and determined that the No. 1 most handsome team was:
The Buffalo Bills.
I laughed when I heard the news. Most people probably did, considering the thought of any rating of most handsome including Chan Gailey and Ralph Wilson seemingly as insane. The Bills players and team were probably laughing at the article and passing it around. Joking about how with the new uniforms and symmetrical faces that they would look great. How they were the No. 1 team in the NFL according to the Wall Street Journal. The Buffalo Bills No. 1 in the NFL?
Consciously it's tough to believe an article had much effect on the team. Subconsciously is a whole different matter. Whether it enforced the idea of Buffalo being the best at something, or gave the team a hearty laugh, it's one of those weird things that can definitely change an outlook.
I know as a fan I was getting ready to write the Bills season preview, ready to cut and paste all of the mistakes from previous years, and then the Wall Street Journal report came out. My view of the season changed.
What if they were 6-10 last year, Fitzpatrick is finally going into the season as a starter, Lee Evans can only get open on fly routes and is no big loss (for depth purposes they might want him, Baltimore can't be thrilled with him so far this year).
More optimism was going into my mind, and I had none. The players had a lot more and looking good can make people perform better. Looking bad can make people perform worse. Just ask the ugliest team in the NFL.
Here's where I think the article shows merit. The Bills were the most handsome team. The least handsome team was the Chiefs. There is no bigger mess in the NFL now than the Chiefs.
The fact that the most handsome and ugliest team met in Week 1 is funny, especially since looking good led to a 34 point victory on the road. The Chiefs had a rocky awful build up to the season and probably also got a few chuckles from the article.
Being named the ugliest team was the last subconscious hit a very mentally fragile team needed. Their two best players were injured for the season in the first two weeks. No word on if the team became more handsome or not with the loss of Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles.
As a Buffalo fan for 31 years, I am aware this wave of positivity may be a short ride. This weekend is the Patriots, the team they haven't beaten in over eight years. Three years ago, the Bills started 4-0 and 5-1 and didn't have a winning record. Their last playoff victory was so long ago I forgot it was against the Dolphins. For these few moments the waves are providing a great ride.
After all, a team that includes a seventh round QB as the starter, a free agent RB, a seventh round star receiver, a free agent up and coming receiver, a seventh round left tackle, a free agent third receiver and a waiver acquisition tight end should be far from first in anything in the NFL. Not the No.1 scoring team in the NFL after two weeks nor the No. 1 team in rushing yards.
The No. 1 team in the NFL in some category. The Buffalo Bills. That doesn't sound so foreign anymore. Thanks Wall Street Journal.