The Buffalo Bills have high expectations as the second seed in the AFC playoffs. So will this finally be the year Buffalo hoists the Lombardi Trophy?
The Bills finished the regular season with a 13-3 record, winning seven-straight games to close out the year. This Buffalo team is as strong as any in franchise history, and fans should feel great about the Bills odds to win the Super Bowl — perhaps even better than the second-best Buffalo Bills betting odds to win the big game, per New York sports betting operators.
But there are five things the Bills must do this postseason to fully cement its legacy, and become the first team to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Western New York.
1. Buffalo Bills NFL playoff experience: Been there, done that
This isn’t Buffalo’s first rodeo in the postseason. This will be the Bills’ fifth playoff appearance under head coach Sean McDermott since he joined the team in 2017.
Sometimes, the intensity of the postseason can rattle players if they don’t have the experience. But that should be no issue for the Buffalo Bills.
It will be crucial for Buffalo to rely on that experience, especially in the Wild Card round against the visiting Miami Dolphins on Sunday, even if Miami will go without starting QB Tua Tagovailoa due to a concussion. (Check out the entire Buffalo Bills injury report for the AFC Wild Card matchup.)
Miami’s most recent playoff appearance came in 2016, and the team’s roster is filled with players who will be making their postseason debuts.
The Bills need to lean on the postseason experience they’ve gained in previous years if they want to win it all.
2. The Josh Allen-Stefon Diggs connection
Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs have been one of the most dominant QB-WR duos in football this season. Allen’s 4,283 passing yards rank seventh in the NFL, while Diggs’ 1,429 receiving yards rank fifth. If Buffalo had played a full 17-game season (its Week 17 game against Cincinnati was scratched after the Bills’ Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field), those numbers would be boosted even higher.
The Buffalo Bills will continue relying on the tandem to win games this postseason. While Buffalo won seven consecutive games to close out the year, both Allen and Diggs posted some less-than-superb numbers in a handful of those victories.
Luckily, the pair closed out the season strong in Week 18 vs. the New England Patriots (connecting for 104 yards and a TD, the seventh time they went over 100 yards this season). Keeping that positive momentum rolling into the postseason will be crucial.
3. Josh Allen can’t do it all
Early on this season, the Bills’ glaring weakness was its inability to run the ball. But as the year went on, it turned into a strength. Buffalo finished the season averaging 139 rushing yards per game, good for the seventh-best mark in football.
The Bills leading rusher was Devin Singletary with 819 yards. James Cook wasn’t effective early in the year, but turned it on late and proved to be a formidable RB2.
It’s important for the Bills offense to avoid becoming pass-heavy. In games where Allen threw 40 or more passes this season, Buffalo held a mere +5 point differential and went just 3-2.
4. Stay consistent defensively
It’s easy to overlook the Bills defense considering how much firepower it has offensively. But don’t sleep on Buffalo’s defense.
The Bills allowed the sixth-lowest total yards per game, and the second-fewest points per game. But Buffalo is a bit of an outlier due to its mediocrity at sacking the QB.
The Bills tallied 40 sacks this season, tied for the 14th-most in the NFL. Because of this, Buffalo relies heavily on its linebackers and defensive backs to dominate pass coverage.
The Bills could benefit from applying more pressure to the QB, especially against the likes of Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes or Justin Herbert, should Buffalo face them.
5. Get over the Super Bowl hump
The Bills infamously lost in four straight Super Bowls from 1990 to 1993. Buffalo hasn’t made it back to the championship game since then.
Maybe there are some mental hurdles lingering in Buffalo from those losses. If so, the Bills must squash those and avoid letting the big-pressure moments get the best of them.
Complete all five keys, and the Lombardi Trophy will find a new home in Western New York.