Are The Buffalo Bills the Team to Beat in the AFC?

Eddie

The Buffalo Bills have emerged to become one of the best teams in the entire NFL. After making it to the AFC championship game, their first deep playoff run in decades, they have established themselves as a legitimate contender ready to be taken seriously in the AFC.

As we can see, the Bills have -270 odds over the Pittsburgh Steelers in their first regular season matchup. Notably, the Steelers produced a record of 12-4 last season, showing that they are a strong team as well. This demonstrates the sportsbooks’ confidence in the Bills overall. NFL fans and analysts are going to be keeping a close eye on the team as the season develops. 

The Past and Present

Bills fans have been waiting a long time for this team to return to championship contention. The past two decades have been a slow rebuilding process as the team tried to regain all of the necessary components. At times, their defense was exceptional but the offense was lacking. At other moments, there was some promising offensive talent but the squad was playing without a dependable quarterback who knew how to utilize them. This was their biggest challenge to overcome, finding a quarterback they could trust and build around. It seems Buffalo has finally found that player in Josh Allen.

The move to draft quarterback Josh Allen 7th overall in 2018 was met with criticism. It felt like Buffalo was desperate for a franchise starter. However, Allen took some work in his first year as a pro, but has steadily become better in time. Now, as he heads into his fourth year, Allen is among the best quarterbacks in the league. 

Last Season Performance

The Bills were the victims of a much-publicized playoff drought that lasted from 1999 to the 2017 season when they made it to the first round with quarterback Tyrod Taylor at the helm. With Josh Allen now in the driver’s seat, they have built on that success with repeat appearances in 2019 and 2020. 

Last season was a very strong performance from the Bills and it caused the entire league take note. Ultimately, the team finished 13-3, only behind the Chiefs in terms of win percentage in the AFC. We finally witnessed everything coming together at once for the Bills. Coach Sean McDermott has finally started to get his offensive scheme going, and Josh Allen has learned to trust himself and work with his teammates. 

What The Bills Bring to the Table

The Bills have a surprisingly good lineup that is made up of a number of overlooked players. Cole Beasley is not a name you heard much about through his 6 years at the Cowboys, but he has blossomed to become a very productive receiver with 82 receptions, almost 1000 yards and 4 touchdowns. John Brown, Gabriel Davis, and Dawson Knox have also contributed heavily. 

Of course, the big addition last season was Stefon Diggs who has managed to become an elite receiver in the Bills’ offense, leading football fans to wonder if he is the best receiver in the league. Last year was the best of his career as he returned 127 receptions for 1535 yards and 8 touchdowns. No receiver was credited with more yards in 2020 than Diggs. 

Buffalo has always been known for their defense. After several years underperforming in this aspect, their defense is coming back strong this season. Key players like Jordan Poyer, Jerry Hughes, Tre’Davious White, Trent Murphy and Micah Hyde are still present and there have been numerous new additions picked up in the draft as well. This shows that McDermott wants a top tier defense to match their offense. 

AFC Rivals

If the Bills want to be the best team in the AFC, their path begins in the AFC East where they must fight to keep control of the division. The Jets still seem like a long way from a winning team, and the Patriots may still be a few seasons away from finding their stride in the post-Brady era. This leaves the Dolphins as the only credible threat, as their 10-6 season would suggest. The Bills cannot afford to get comfortable in their home division. 

After this their biggest competition in the conference comes from the Kansas City Chiefs. Many comparisons can be drawn between the two young, talented quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. Both have strong arms, can make plays happen on the move, and are courageous leaders. Expect a heated competition when these two teams face off again in week 5.

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