Not time for Bills to Bungle

Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) runs the ball against Oakland Raiders safety Michael...

Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) runs the ball against Oakland Raiders safety Michael Huff during their game on September 18, 2011. (REUTERS/Doug Benz)

Rob Longley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:10 PM ET

CINCINNATI - Coach Chan Gailey doesn’t mind all the attention, nor does his Buffalo Bills quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Who wouldn’t?

So what a shame it would be if much of the good from a fairly spectacular 3-0 start to the NFL season drowned in the Ohio River Sunday afternoon just outside of Paul Brown Stadium.

It may only be the Bengals up next, a team once again fighting to avoid being derisively known as the Bungles.

And yes, at 3-0 the Bills are right at the top of the list of the NFL’s most compelling stories this season, starting with the no-name quarterback guiding a no-name offence.

These Bills may be feeling the love, but with the caution from their coach who is drilling it into them how fleeting it can be.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Gailey said of the attention that has swept over Buffalo since the 21-point comeback win over the Patriots a week ago.

“If you play great, you get it, but you’ve got to learn how to handle it. If you can’t handle it, then it won’t be around long. I’m talking a lot to these guys, making sure they don’t get away from what got us to where we are.”

Where they are is less than a quarter into the 16-game season and a team trying to make sure it is all the way around the corner before playoffs enter the discussion.

The Bills are the only remaining undefeated team in the AFC, and there was plenty to like through three weeks.

An offence that before the season would have been seen throughout the league as decidedly anonymous, has scored more points than anyone at 113.

Their Harvard-educated quarterback, Fitzpatrick, is second in the AFC with nine touchdown passes and looking comfortable at the controls of an offence that is rolling up an average of 431 yards per game.

Remember how in the past couple of seasons a 300-yard passing game from a Bills quarterback seemed almost unattainable?

Those days are recent enough that these Bills vow they won’t be forgotten.

“We started out 0-8 last year, we only won four games and we know how hard wins are to come by,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think with that I don’t think you’ll ever see us take a game for granted.”

It would certainly be a shame if they wasted the sprinting start against a Bengals team that may not be as horrid as first feared, but hardly a top threat.

We’ll need a bigger sample size to see if the Bills offence is as serious as it has looked. The 34 points they scored last week was the lowest they’ve scored this season and a total they topped just three times over the past five seasons combined.

“I don’t know if we’ll set records this year, but it would be nice if we did,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve faced some defences that have given us some things we can take advantage of, too.”

If they can do it for another week and get to 4-0, suddenly the talk around Western New York will get to the playoffs.

And it won’t be long before Toronto starts to claim their share of ownership in the team for the first time in the four years the Bills have been playing a regular-season game north of the border.

With dates against the Eagles and Giants, plus a bye week before the Toronto date against the Redskins, the Bills could pass the 51/2 season win total Vegas assigned them before the snow flies.

First up though, no bungling against the Bengals.

“They’re an NFL team,” Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson said. “That’s pretty much it, you’re an NFL team and each Sunday any team can beat you. That’s what worries me.”

ALL IN THE NUMBERS

In the NFL, the numbers can lie at the best of times. But three weeks into the season they often resemble a work of fiction.

Bills bashers have their ammunition heading into Sunday’s game against the Bengals, opining that Buffalo is facing the NFL’s third-ranked defence.

Lost in that theory, of course, is the fact that the Bengals built up that ranking against pedestrian offences from Cleveland, Denver and San Francisco.

Then there is the notion that the Buffalo offence may not be quite what it seems, considering that the three wins to date have come against teams ranked in the bottom five defensively — Kansas City, Oakland and New England.

The flaw in that one is that the Bills are at least 33% responsible for those rankings.

So can they keep it up?

“Going out and scoring 35-40 points a game isn’t going to happen every week,” Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “That being said, we think we’ve got enough talent and the experience where we can go out and score on anybody.”

LONGLEY’S YOU BET

Still trying to figure out what to make of the Falcons, who will play their third road game of the season, and a long one of that traveling to Seattle? The good news for Falcons backers though is that they are 11-1 against the spread after their last 12 losses ... Seattle tends to be a better ATS team at home, but they are just 5-3 as home dogs in their past eight ... Think the Bills are stop being a money machine any time soon? As three-point favourites, it could happen in Cincinnati but be forewarned: They have covered their last four games against AFC North opponents ... On the other hand, Buffalo is 1-5 ATS after games against the Patriots ... The Patriots, meanwhile, are 12-5 ATS after their last 17 losses ... As it does most weeks, the house had a good day in Week 3 but really could have cleaned up if the Bears and Rams could have managed to squeeze out a cover ... How high can they go? The over has hit in all three games for both the Raiders and Patriots, the big reason why that number is up to 55 for Sunday’s meeting in the Black Hole ... Will October bring better fortunes for those brave enough to back the Chargers? Since 2009, the Bolts are just 2-7 in the money for September games.


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