Bills' stock rising in T.O.

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

For Southern Ontario football fans, the "Toronto Bills" couldn't have picked a better time to join the market.

Think about it: The Argos' most recent three games have been unwatchable blowout losses in which the only thing worse than the performance was the lack of effort.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats may be as hard on the eyes, but at least they made a game of it against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week.

Meanwhile, down the QEW, the Buffalo Bills are 3-0 and have their fans in a frenzy, a feeling that is increasingly spilling over the border with every win.

Not only are the Bills playing exciting football for the first time in years, they are alone atop the AFC East, no small feat considering the New England Patriots owned that spot for more than three consecutive seasons.

Nearly a year has passed since the Bills announced their plan to make Toronto a part-time home over the next five seasons. The CFL, led by commissioner Mark Cohon, was justifiably concerned about the invasion but equally adamant that the Argos and Tiger-Cats could and would protect their turf.

For the Boatmen, that meant, in part, a curious off-season promotion to help the Bills sell tickets to their two Toronto "home" dates in 2008. The if-you-can't-beat-them-join-them strategy might have made more sense if the product in Toronto was at least exciting. Instead, a wayward season has become a mess.

So if you want to see a big-league quarterback after suffering through Kerry Joseph and Cody Pickett and the follies associated with the position in Toronto, who could blame even diehard fans of the CFL for looking toward the Bills' budding star quarterback Trent Edwards.

His clock management in Sunday's win over the, Oakland Raiders was a thing of beauty, further evidence that the 24-year-old is coming of age (whereas in Toronto, Joseph is just looking old.)

If you want to see excitement, apparently the Bills have that as well. Heartstopping fourth-quarter comebacks in each of their past two games are as good as sports gets.

The Argos? Not to kick Don Matthews' boys while they are down, but a three-game losing streak in which they have been outscored 118-32 won't build a groundswell of support.

History suggests caution is necessary before jumping on the Bills' bandwagon with both feet, especially for a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1999. That said, don't you get the sense that there is a changing of the guard in the AFC?

It is premature to write off the Patriots, but with quarterback Tom Brady gone for the season and a defence that looked awfully suspect in getting throttled at home by Miami, New England's intimidation edge is waning.

'ENJOY IT'

The Colts, meanwhile, are a fading powerhouse that could be in serious trouble. Sure, quarterback Peyton Manning and running back Joseph Addai woke up Sunday, but that banged up defence can't stop anyone.

Through bad luck and horrid officiating, the San Diego Chargers were 0-2 out of the gate entering last night's game against the Jets. And Jacksonville, the other AFC team in the AFC final four from last season, already has lost to Buffalo.

"You have to enjoy it," Bills receiver Lee Evans said yesterday. "I think that's one of the things you learn coming up in this league, that it's hard to get wins. And when you get them ... you can't take them for granted."

If you are a Toronto football fan, you can start looking forward to that Dec. 7 Buffalo-Miami date at the Rogers Centre.

The Bills already are doing a slick job marketing the occasion. Edwards was the latest Bill to make a Toronto appearance yesterday, sitting in on TSN's Off The Record, as the players do their best to embrace the idea of a home away from home.

And if the Argos don't right the ship soon, the Bills may be the only game in town worth watching.


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