Thursday, July 12, 2012
Are the Bills no longer sleepers?
By James Walker
Back in April I deemed the Buffalo Bills my sleeper pick for 2012. They finished last in the AFC East the year prior but played well early, had a lot of injuries late and made a big move to sign stud defensive end Mario Williams.
At the time, I thought I would be on an island. After all, it was the Bills -- a team that hasn't made the playoffs in 13 years. Surely it was too risky to jump on this bandwagon, right?
Three months later the Bills are becoming a popular pick. Several in the national media, including ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton, project the Bills to make the postseason. It's getting to the point where, for the first time, I'm questioning if the Bills are really "sleepers" anymore.
A sleeper, by definition, is a team that no one expects much from but exceeds expectations. Yet the bar in Buffalo has been raised high by the fans, the media and the team itself. Bills players responded to the increased expectations this offseason, and some even added to it.
"I don't see any way we don't make the playoffs this year, I really don't," Bills linebacker Nick Barnett told Yahoo! Sports in March.
Another 6-10 record won't cut it in Buffalo and everyone knows it. But in just a few short months, the Bills have gone from the "sleeper pick" to the "sexy pick," and I'm not sure that's a good thing.
It's much easier for lesser-known teams to fly under the radar and sneak up on opponents. But somewhere between March and July, Buffalo lost that luxury.
Are the Bills good enough and mature enough to handle the newfound hype?