Buffalo Bills: 11 wins – 6 losses, 3rd in the AFC
Built on solid foundations, Buffalo had donned the suit of pretender before the season. Announced as Kansas City’s main rival, the Bills did not always reassure in 2021. Despite flattering statistics, the feeling was not always convincing and the team fought to the end to win its division and ensured his qualifications.
How did they get there?
Sometimes overwhelming, sometimes ghostly, Buffalo’s season hasn’t been smooth sailing. Able to dominate the Chiefs with authority, they also managed to sink miserably against the worst team of the season barely a month later. To the point of seeing their participation in the playoffs called into question by pointing to 7th place AFC four weeks from the end of the regular season with a barely positive balance sheet.
But Sean McDermott was able to remobilize his troops in the home stretch with 4 straight wins, including a convincing success on the field of New England, to seek a second consecutive division title. A title synonymous with home field advantage for Act III of their duel against the Patriots.
The key player: Josh Allen
Transformed in 2020, Allen has established himself as one of the very best in his position. This season, the quarterback has confirmed that he is not just a shooting star. Despite 2 or 3 average matches, he still showed the extent of his talent and showed formidable efficiency. With 4400 yards in the air and nearly 800 on the ground, Allen represents a permanent threat to opposing defenses.
A true leader, he symbolizes the renewal and return to the forefront of the Bills. When he is fit, the whole team gets in tune and becomes almost unplayable. In osmosis with his offensive squad and in particular his targets, but too little helped by a ground game of which he is the main custodian, the attack rests almost exclusively on his shoulders and his performance. If he’s having a bad day, Buffalo will be in great danger.
Why are they going to go all the way?
Already a conference finalist last year, the team has gone from strength to strength over the past offseason. Talented on both sides of the ball, Buffalo is certainly the most complete team in the league. They are the only ones to be in the top 5 of both squads. Explosive in attack, 5th in the number of yards, 3rd in the number of points, Allen and his troops are capable of returning any defense. Rich in talents and complementary, the squad of receivers has a formidable and dreaded strike force. In addition to his connection with Stefon Diggs, which has been wreaking havoc for two years, the quarterback also has a safety valve and a target in the red zone in the person of Dawson Knox.
First in yards (by far) and in points conceded, the Bills are the only team to concede less than 300 yards per game. This solidity is based on a great homogeneity more than on big names. The strength of the collective at the service of efficiency, a quality that often pays off in a campaign of playoff matches.
Why won’t they go?
Victim of an air pocket in the regular season, Buffalo’s ability to remain mobilized and maintain a high level over 4 matches raises questions. Josh Allen sometimes seemed to reconnect with his old demons by missing out on some matches. And when the quarterback is not very round, his runners have not proven that they can take the game on their own to relieve him. The Singletary-Moss duo compiles painfully 1200 yards between them. Allen not being able to do everything, this lack of productivity of the running backs could be prohibitive at the time of finding the Chiefs of Patrick Mahomes. The ability to master possession and the clock might be a key the Bills don’t have.
Only one name is missing, and not the least. All Pro cornerback Tre’Davius White will be the big absentee in defense. Victim of a torn cruciate ligament, the player will not return for many months. On the defensive line, it is especially in the rotation that Justin Zimmer will miss.
A conference runner-up last year, Buffalo served as a legitimate early season favorite to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI. Talented, complete, experienced and very well coached, the team has all the assets to go very far.
If the team manages to avoid the trap set for them by Bill Belichick, the Bills may have done the hardest part. With a constant Josh Allen and an applied and mobilized workforce under the leadership of McDermott, Buffalo could see the road to Los Angeles for the Big Game.