Do you remember your first time? You were excited, nervous, and maybe even a little drunk. You knew it was going to feel good, but no one could have prepared you for just how pleasurable it actually was. You knew your life would never be the same. Now that you’d done it, you started thinking about getting more. You started imagining how far you could go. You couldn’t wait to call up your buddies and tell them all about it.
Obviously, I’m talking about the first time your team won a division title. On Saturday, the Buffalo Bills won their first division title since Bill Clinton’s first term as president. If you’re under 30 year old, you likely don’t remember the last division title. I hope you found the de-virginating experience to be delightful. Even if you are old enough to remember Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed leading the Bills to the AFC East crown in 1995, you certainly didn’t appreciate it then like you do now. In ‘95, the Bills were celebrating their 6th division title in 8 years. Buffalo was the dominant team in the AFC.
Then something happened. Marv Levy retired, and you became the Detroit Lions of the AFC. Wade Phillips, Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron, Perry Fewell, Chan Gailey, Doug Marrone, Rex Ryan, and Anthony Lynn all failed to win the division. You’ve seen 20 different starting quarterbacks before Josh Allen took over the starting gig as a rookie in 2018. As a Lions fan, I understand the misery. We haven’t won a division title since 1991 when Wayne Fontes led the team to the NFC Central championship…a division that doesn’t even exist anymore. Like many of you, I was quite young when that last division title happened and wasn’t able to fully enjoy the experience.
I’m happy for you, Bills fans. Outside of Detroit, no fan base deserves this more than you. You guys have been through the pain and misery. You’ve experienced the scrotum punch that was the Music City Miracle. Through it all, you stayed faithful to your team. Savor the moment. You’ve earned it.
Three Unbiased Opinions
1. The Bills are the 2nd Best Team in the NFL.
The Chiefs are the defending champions and rightfully considered the best team in the NFL. Right behind them? The Buffalo Bills. The Steelers are trending down. The Saints and Packers are quality teams but neither have played with the consistency the Bills have shown. They’ve played well in primetime. They’ve won at home and on the road. The offense is legit, the defense is improving every week, and the special teams are top-notch.
Buffalo is a complete football team, and to this unbiased outsider, the only better team right now is the Kansas City Chiefs.
2. Stefon Diggs is the best WR in the NFL.
De’Andre Hopkins is great. DK Metcalf is a beast. Keenan Allen is a catch machine. Davante Adams is a stud. Julio Jones is a freak of nature. But Stefon Diggs is the best in the business right now. He does everything. He’ll catch deep balls or go over the middle. He tears apart man coverage or zone. From a technical standpoint, I’m not sure there’s a better player in the league. His route running is a work of art. There’s not a corner in the league that can cover him one-on-one.
But that’s not what makes Diggs the best. His greatest attribute is how he makes others around him better. Josh Allen gets a lot of credit for his growth this year and rightfully so. But let’s be honest. Some of that growth is due to adding a dynamic receiver like Diggs. Cole Beasley is about to become a 1,000-yard receiver because he plays next to Diggs. He’s a leader of men, and he elevates his team. I think we can safely say he was well worth that first-round pick they traded him for.
3. McDermott Needs to be Smart in Weeks 16 and 17
A playoff berth is clinched. The AFC division crown is in the bag. Now, there’s still plenty to play for as far as seeding goes, but the Bills need to play with caution in these final two weeks. The top seed in the AFC is still technically possible, though extremely unlikely. The #2 seed is still very much in play. Avoiding the Chiefs until the AFC Championship would be a big deal.
But none of that matters if you lose key players to injury for the playoffs. If Josh Allen suffers a knee injury, the season is essentially done. McDermott and Brian Daboll would be wise to wrap him in bubble wrap until the playoffs. Shelf the designed QB runs, and limit the number of hits Allen takes between now and then. I might consider snap limits for Tre White, Tre Edmunds, and Stefon Diggs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying play scared. I’m saying be smart. There are bigger fish to fry than worrying too much about the #2 or #3 seed. This team has Super Bowl potential, and you don’t want to be playing without a superstar in the playoffs because of an injury in a relatively meaningless game.
Congratulations again, Bills fans. I truly hope this division title isn’t the highlight of your season. I hope there are playoff wins, and possibly more, in your future. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit jealous. I don’t know the joy of a division championship. I don’t know the exhilaration of a playoff win. My Super Bowl is the NFL Draft. Athletically speaking, I’m just a lonely title virgin. There was always some comfort in knowing my Bills friends were similarly unlucky. Those days are now gone, and I’m happy for you.
Have a safe and Merry Christmas, everyone!