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The Buffalo Bills and other once-buried NFL teams show they still have life

The Buffalo Bills and other once-buried NFL teams show they still have life
Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) throws from the pocket during a game against the Buccaneers earlier this season. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Here lie the Buffalo Bills, gone well before their time.

That's how it felt a couple of weeks ago, at least, after Rex Ryan's team lost its first two games in a five-day stretch, fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman and saw its best offensive player, receiver Sammy Watkins, suffer a foot injury.

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After back-to-back victories over the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots, however, the Bills have come back to life.

"We dug ourselves out to this point," Ryan said Monday, "to get to 2-2 from 0-2 because of how hard we worked, all the preparation time, and the accountability to each other.

"We've just got to keep digging. We'll never make up for that 0-2 start. We've just got to keep taking that dirt off us."

It's a feeling the Rams know, having followed a face-plant at San Francisco with consecutive wins over the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cardinals.

If the first quarter of the NFL season has reminded us of anything, it's don't anoint or bury teams too soon. For instance, it was only nine months ago that the Cardinals and Carolina Panthers played in the NFC championship game and now the projected Super Bowl contenders are 1-3 with their quarterbacks, Carson Palmer and Cam Newton, under concussion protocol.

Written off too soon were teams such as the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings. Both were undefeated through the weekend, with the Vikings hosting the New York Giants on Monday night.

After Peyton Manning retired and Brock Osweiler signed with the Houston Texans, the Broncos handed the keys to the offense to second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian, who had three strong games before suffering a sprained shoulder Sunday and being replaced by rookie Paxton Lynch. Denver is the first defending Super Bowl champion since the 2001 Baltimore Ravens to open the season with a different starting quarterback.

Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak said Monday that Siemian is "day to day" and that he expects him back for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.

"He's just really sore, just going through that motion and going through the throwing motion," Kubiak said. "Throwing the ball is not going to be a problem, it's how does it feel when he moves his whole trunk. We'll have to see."

The Vikings got off to a 3-0 start despite losing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater just before the regular season started, followed by running back Adrian Peterson and left tackle Matt Kalil.

Brady's back — Sunday will mark the return of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who served a four-game suspension for his role in an alleged ball-deflating scheme. The Patriots, who were 3-1 without their All-Pro quarterback, play at winless Cleveland.

Pity the Browns. They get a Patriots team that's steaming after a 16-0 home loss to the Bills. Only six times in the last 13 seasons have the Patriots had consecutive defeats. New England's Bill Belichick coached the Browns from 1991-95.

Have we met? — When the Falcons play at Denver, it will be a reunion of the Broncos and Falcons Coach Dan Quinn, who smothered them in the Super Bowl with his Seattle Seahawks defense. Of course, Atlanta's 30th-ranked defense isn't the story in this game, but how the fifth-ranked Broncos defense is going to fare against the Falcons' high-flying passing attack.

Atlanta's Matt Ryan passed for 503 yards and four touchdowns in Sunday's 48-33 win over Carolina, and Julio Jones had 300 yards receiving. The Falcons are the first team in NFL history to have a 500-yard passer and 300-yard receiver in the same game.

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Brothers in arms — Former Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon is quite impressed by current Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, whose team will host the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

"I know it's premature to start discussing MVP candidates," Gannon said on CBS Sports Network's "NFL Monday QB," "but this guy has to be right up there… If they can play better defense around him and run the ball a little bit, there's no reason why this team can't win 10, 11, 12 games."

The two quarterbacks have a statistical connection. In Sunday's victory at Baltimore, Carr became the first Raiders quarterback to have a four-touchdown, zero-interception game in consecutive seasons… since Gannon in 1999 and 2000.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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