The Buffalo Bills finally got over the New England hump last week, but that wasn’t enough for these Bills. Sean McDermott and Josh Allen beating a broken-down Patriots team gave the team confidence, no doubt. But it didn’t instill confidence that they could top a playoff team.

Sunday did just that. In Buffalo’s 44-34 beatdown of the Seahawks, the Bills finally showed they belong on that tier of good-to-great teams by throttling Russell Wilson. Allen threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns, the defense turned the leading MVP candidate over four times and, thanks to special teams, the Bills won the field position battle as well.

The Bills went 1-4 in the 2019 regular season against playoff teams, notching their only victory against the Titans in Week 5 in the pre-Tannehill days. Then they gave up a fourth-quarter lead in the wild-card round to Houston and lost in overtime to Deshaun Watson.

It’s been more of the same this year with the Bills beating up on teams they should and losing to teams they wish they could defeat. An October lull saw Buffalo lose in embarrassing fashion to a Titans team that hadn’t practiced in nearly two weeks. The following week they let Kansas City’s running backs gash them for 245 yards in an attempt to keep Patrick Mahomes from beating them. It didn’t work.

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But the Bills figured it out Sunday to reclaim the accolades that they held after one month of this season. A Buffalo defense that had allowed opponents to convert more than half their third downs this season stopped Seattle on nine of their 12 attempts. They gave up just 3.4 rushing yards per attempt and tallied three second-half takeaways as the Seahawks tried to tighten the game.

Buffalo opened up a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter as offensive coordinator Brian Daboll kept doing what got him that lead in the first place. The Bills had 45 dropbacks compared to 16 rushing attempts before the three kneeldowns to salt the game away, a nearly 3:1 ratio against one of the NFC favorites.

Seattle couldn’t stop anything the Bills did in the air, but that doesn’t take away from what Allen accomplished. On throws of 10-plus yards downfield, Allen went 12 of 16 for 230 yards and a touchdown.

The 7-2 Bills remain in full control of an AFC East that can be theirs this year and for years to come. Next week’s contest against the Cardinals will be another test, but the Bills will go into it having already cleared the good-team hurdle.

The Carolina Panthers had the gameplan to beat the Chiefs, but they once again couldn’t finish the job in the closing minutes.

First-year head coach Matt Rhule understood clearly the only way Carolina had a chance against the reigning champs was to keep the ball away from Patrick Mahomes. Many teams know that and have tried, but the Panthers did it well. Carolina dominated time of possession, holding the ball for more than 38 minutes against Kansas City.

Rhule opted to go for it on fourth-and-3 in the red zone on their opening drive and wound up with a touchdown. Later in the first half, the Panthers successfully executed a fake punt.

But for the third straight game, the Panthers couldn’t find enough two-minute magic. Teddy Bridgewater looked pensive in the closing minutes against New Orleans and Atlanta in the last two weeks, but this Sunday against the Chiefs he wasn’t given many opportunities to get the ball to the sideline.

I think Joe Brady has been a heckuva play-caller in his first year in Carolina. But the end-of-game scenarios the Panthers have been faced with lately have left plenty to be desired from a team that has been in all nine of their games this year.

RIP to the GOAT

Alex Trebek has passed away following a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. I grew up watching him at 7 p.m. ET with my grandparents, and in many ways he’s the voice of my childhood. The humility with which he publicly handled his battle with the disease still gives me chills.

My thoughts are with his loved ones, who may never be able to fully know the impact he made.

More insider notes

  • I need to issue an apology to Dalvin Cook. All season I have said there are only two running backs that I would pay big money to, and those are Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry. Cook absolutely deserves to be the third. With due respect to very good running backs around the league like Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliott, those three stir the drink for their teams. Following his four-touchdown performance against the Packers, Cook put up 206 yards on 22 carries.
  • I respect the way Joe Judge is delivering his messages. By not bringing Golden Tate on the Washington trip, the first-year head coach made it clear he’s not dealing with the sort of nonsense Tate was trying to bring around. In the third quarter against the Football Team, he benched Andrew Thomas for Matt Peart after a holding penalty on the previous drive. Thomas has been the worst left tackle in football this year. The jury can still be out on the rookie, but Judge needed to get something across to his No. 4 overall pick.

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