It’s not an optical illusion, those are your Buffalo Bills, one of nine National Football League teams off to a 2-0 start … both wins coming on the road no less.
And while it’s early, there’s no denying they’re in better shape than three teams — Pittsburgh, Denver and Carolina — whose high hopes have already been shaken by going 0-2 out of the gate.
But in the euphoria of the Bills locker room after Sunday’s 28-14 win over the Giants, it was up to 13-year veteran Lorenzo Alexander to offer some words of caution.
At 36, and with his sixth NFL team, “Zo” as he is called, told the assembled media of Buffalo’s fast start, “You want to start banking (wins) early in the season because you know late in the year it definitely pays dividends when you get into November, December when you start playing for playoff spots.
“You don’t want to be playing from behind and feel like you have to win every single game. You want to be sitting in an advantageous spot to where hopefully you’re playing for homefield or maybe the division and these early games, which some people kind of disregard, can come back and bite you, so its huge.”
He added, “Even though (Sunday’s win) is a non-division game, it’s huge as far as what we want to do as we move along in the season.”
But Alexander also offered some words of caution.
“I’ve been around teams that were 4-0 and not made the playoffs,” he said. “I’ve been on teams that were 6-2 and not made the playoffs. You can never get complacent or really care about what the perspective is from the outside.
“Sometimes when you win, that can be even worse than when you lose, because you have a tendency to relax a bit.”
OF COURSE, cynics point to the fact the Bills’ victims — Jets and Giants — are a collective 0-4 and, Sunday’s opponent at New Era Field in the home opener is Cincinnati, another 0-2 team.
But as coaches often point out, “We can only play the schedule we get.”
Buffalo had no say in the slate the NFL assigned.
It’s only in hindsight that it appears its first three games seem super soft.
And that the Bills opened the season with consecutive road wins, lack of quality opposition notwithstanding, isn’t without significance.
Unquestionably, Buffalo was profoundly lucky to rally from a 16-0 deficit against the Jets, to snatch a 17-16 victory in the opener.
But Sunday’s decision over the Giants showed some genuine improvement.
After looking like a used up running back when he rushed for a mere 20 yards on 11 carries against the Jets, 36-year-old Frank Gore was much more like the NFL’s fourth all-time leading rusher that he is, logging 68 yards for 19 yards with a touchdown on Sunday.
Then, too, his complementary back, rookie third-round draft choice Devin Singletary made a 14-yard touchdown run look easy against the Giants and his two-game rushing total is 127 yards for nearly 13 yards per carry. He also has five receptions.
And Buffalo’s two free agent wide receivers — John Brown and Cole Beasley — both built on their first-game performances.
Brown, who had seven catches for 123 yards and a 38-yard TD against the Jets, followed it with seven more receptions for 72 yards versus the Giants.
Beasley, who had five catches for 40 yards in the opener added four receptions for 83 yards on Sunday.
Second-year quarterback Josh Allen has endured four sacks in two games with a pair each of touchdowns and interceptions and a respectable 84.6 passer rating.
But the most encouraging statistic is that, in the first two games, his completion percentage is a solid 64 compared to the substandard 53 percent of his rookie season.
The missing link is at tight end where free agent Tyler Kroft has now missed two games with a foot injury and, as a result, the remaining three players at that position have combined for a mere five receptions.
To this point though, the gloomy predictions about the offensive line have been unfounded.
WHEN ASKED about the Bills start, Allen noted, “We don’t really look at it as 2-0 … we look at it as going 1-0 each week. What’s happened has happened … we’re kind of over that now.
“We’re putting our focus toward Cincinnati and looking forward to going 1-0 and putting our best foot forward.”
And he’s made a believer of his teammates.
“I saw him last year,” Gore said of his time in Miami. “Just being here with him … he’s very competitive … very tough.
“We have the right quarterback for this team. I don’t care what the outside world says, I know we believe in him. I feel he can do anything on the field and it showed (against the Giants).”
(Chuck Pollock, a Times Herald senior sports columnist, can be reached at email@example.com)