Out of Bounds

Enjoy the spotlight Bills' fans – while it lasts.

The Buffalo Bills will make the playoffs this year. In other news, Jets head coach Rex Ryan just completed his first marathon.

OK, I don't actually think that they will make the playoffs this year. After all, I did watch them go 4-0 in 2008, just to go on a 3-9 skid and miss the playoffs once again with a 7-9 record. Like most experienced Bills' fans, I've learned that any success, especially early in the season, just breeds false hope.

Fans of other sports teams may read this and think Bills' fans are such pessimists. In fact, though, after what Bills' fans of my generation have had to suffer through and witness, I consider myself a realist.

I may not have the highest expectations for the Bills, but I do see them at least making significant steps forward this season. The playoffs may be slightly unrealistic for this year, but saying they will win any less than six games, as most pundits have been predicting all summer, would be selling them short.

Following a lackluster 4-12 season, and an offseason that did not include any blockbuster trades or huge free agent signings, most experts felt that the Bills would not improve much on their record from the previous year. Other than their signing of former Jets all-purpose wide receiver Brad Smith, the front office did not land any of the big names in whom the Bills were reportedly interested.

Even I, a Bills' fan desperately looking for any positive news to latch onto, was relatively disappointed with the signing of Brad Smith. I viewed him as an average player whose talents were amplified mightily by being surrounded by great players on an already successful team. While talent comparable to that found on the Jets may not exist on the Bills, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is more than serviceable and head coach Chan Gailey is known around the league for his offensive creativity. Gailey proved his worth, as most agree that he squeezed every ounce of potential out of the Bills offense this past season. Now with Smith, a wide receiver, quarterback and running back all in one, Gailey can look to unleash his full arsenal of "trickeration."

The loss of team captain Lee Evans was another puzzling move for most during the offseason. While I do not necessarily agree with the loss of Buffalo's seemingly only established deep threat, it does give Gailey more freedom to implement his versatile and complex four wide receiver sets. The departure of Evans gives Gailey more freedom to utilize second-year receivers Donald Jones and David Nelson, who look to become threatening complements to the now legitimate star, Steve Johnson.

Throughout last week's pummeling of the Kansas City Chiefs, I found myself wanting to cheer, but then holding back. I wasn't able to actually enjoy their performance until the fourth quarter when I was confident that even Buffalo could not screw it up and throw away a phenomenal three quarters. Even though this angst-ridden sports writer has trust issues with his beloved Bills, this week-one blowout of the defending AFC West champions was still impressive, and the team deserves more credit than they have been given.

So for now, the Bills have the No. 1 quarterback in the National Football League. Everyone in the football world just let us weary Bills fans enjoy our time in the spotlight. Any justice you feel should be served to us will be provided in full by our team throughout the rest of the season.

It has been too long since Buffalo has made it to the playoffs (almost as long as it would take Rex Ryan to run a marathon). It would be nice to make it there at least one more time before owner Ralph Wilson Jr. passes and the team is moved to Las Vegas. I'm not a pessimist, I swear.

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