Here's a football axiom for your Tuesday, not so much commonly disputed as it is overlooked:
Not all the playoff teams year to year are that good.
The Bills' ongoing 13-year playoff drought isn't an embarrassment because of how Buffalo compares with New England, a franchise perhaps no one in the NFL would be unseating from AFC East supremacy any more often than the Bills, Jets and Dolphins have managed to do. (For the record, that's once in the last 10 years -- Miami in 2008.)
It is one because of these teams, just naming a few:
The 2006 Kansas City Chiefs (9-7). Vince Young's 2007 Tennessee Titans (point differential of plus-4). It's the 2011 Bengals (9-7), and last year's Indianapolis Colts (point differential: minus-30).
Wild-card teams all, playoff stragglers that went one-and-done. Teams of no real greater distinction over the last decade than the Bills. The one thing the Bills have that these other franchises lack, except for the more accomplished Colts, is that drought. KC, Tennessee and Cincy have sprinkled in playoff visits, albeit fruitless ones. The best example maybe, the 2002 Cleveland Browns, a 9-7 team led by Kelly Holcomb that also went right out.
Even Cleveland -- CLEVELAND! -- has a playoff appearance since the '90s.
Those teams didn't have Tom Brady or Bill Belichick. They didn't have Peyton Manning, they didn't have Ray Lewis, they didn't have Ben Roethlisberger.
What they did have was ordinary teams that through some combination of good timing and luck gave their fans a taste of glory.
Could the 2013 Bills be one of these teams? They certainly are due for some good fortune.
So far, they've had plenty.
Their two wins were both quite fortunate. In Week 2 a series of wimpy coaching decisions by Carolina's Ron Rivera left the door open for the Bills. Then, with the game in its final seconds, two Panthers defenders got crossed up and left Stevie Johnson alone for the winning score.
Thanks for that.
Then Sunday the Bills did what the Panthers did two weeks earlier, giving their opponent every opportunity to complete a comeback. But the Bills hung on against Baltimore, largely thanks to five interceptions. Buffalo has nine interceptions through four games, or more than two per game, a pace that will not continue. But trends like that don't always level off, or "normalize" as we say, in the course of a short football season. When it comes to takeaways -- especially fumble recoveries -- anything can happen in a given season. Teams frequently go from top to bottom in consecutive years in takeaways, illustrating how random success or failure in these categories tends to be.
Sure, the opener was close. But the Bills were not especially unlucky in that game. Rather, they converted a couple of turnover bounces -- the Searcy return and the Rogers interception spring to mind -- into points, helping the game stay close.
In the NFL there seems room for at least one average team per year in the postseason tournament -- and that's not even acknowledging the several recent playoff teams that won divisions with .500 records or worse (e.g., Tebow's Broncos), something else that's not happening on New England's watch.
Remember this when ennumerating the Bills' flaws. They've had those same flaws already, and they're 2-2. I don't believe in fate but I do believe in luck, and chances are good that some 2013 playoff team has as many "issues" as the Bills do.