By now, every day feels like a celebration in Western New York. And why shouldn’t it be? This is the generational team we’ve trudged through 20 years of disappointment and heartbreak for. The Bills continue to arrive in the national consciousness each week, slowly edging closer to the Kansas City Chiefs, and as we’ve seen in the last three weeks… surpassing the reigning Super Bowl champions.
Buffalo has the best odds to win the Super Bowl among the playoff field. Not in Vegas, but according to common sense.
As much shock value as that statement might provoke, it is not an outrageous observation whatsoever. Yet, I will still be ridiculed for this take, maybe called a “homer” or delusional. To understand how we’ve gotten to this point, just consider how the Buffalo fanbase has been conditioned to underestimate their team.
It’s always been a case of expecting the letdown performance. Expecting things to go awry. Blowing a lead. Not fulfilling our potential. Being the victims of a miracle. 47-yarder wide right. Music city miracle. Stevie drops it vs. Pittsburgh. Deshaun Watson avoids a sandwich sack. Hail Murray.
Now we must unlearn that heartbreak and root for our team just how the New England fans before us did. Cocky, unwavering, with a Super Bowl-or-bust mentality. Now, let’s break it down, why are we the favorites for the Lombardi trophy?
1.) Most explosive offense in the league
Josh Allen is an MVP candidate with as much confidence as any NFL QB right now. When you make a leap into the Aaron Rodgers-Patrick Mahomes stratosphere, of course, you’re gonna believe you can do anything you set your mind to. Allen has had his way all season long. Along with his best friend, Stefon Diggs, the duo has shattered various franchise records once held by greats like Jim Kelly and Eric Moulds.
But I know the real question here is, “Why is Buffalo’s offense better than the likes of Kansas City, Green Bay, and New Orleans?”
For the Packers and the Saints, the short answer is it’s more complete. We all know WR Davante Adams is Aaron Rodgers’ savior, but who’s behind him on the depth chart? Marquez Valdes-Scantling? A solid contributor no doubt, but nowhere near reliable as John Brown and Cole Beasley for JA17. Allen’s arsenal of weapons makes the Bills’ offense so much more versatile. In New Orleans, an aging Drew Brees with limited arm strength is the Saints’ biggest liability. The Brees-catered dink-and-dunk offense cannot take the top off a good, disciplined secondary. And Sean Peyton’s Swiss-army knife, Taysom Hill, can only save them from so many situations.
When it comes to Kansas City, the answer is, “What have you done for me lately?”
Entering the postseason, Buffalo’s offense has been out-of-this-world good over the last three weeks. They’ve outscored opponents by a +88 point differential over that stretch. For the season, their +119 point differential leads the league. The Bills aren’t playing down to the level of their competition; they’re crushing their souls (even with backups vs. Miami).
Meanwhile in Kansas City, there’s been much conversation on how to “fix” the offense. Many fans are complaining that the Chad Henne-led offense in Week 17 vs. the Chargers looked better than the Chiefs offense of the four weeks prior.
The month of December has had Andy Reid’s offense in an uncharacteristic funk. Make no mistake, they’re still winning games but are keeping lesser opponents around into the fourth quarter. Drew Lock and the Broncos had a chance for a game-winning drive on Sunday Night Football in Week 13. Mahomes’ three interceptions against Miami the following week gave the Dolphins more than a fighter’s chance to pull the upset. And if it weren’t for a shocking miss from kicker Younghoe Koo in the final seconds, Falcons-Chiefs would’ve gone to overtime in Week 16.
Kansas City has problems to resolve if they want to repeat as Super Bowl champs.
2) The Bills have as much momentum as a boulder tearing down a cliffside
I don’t think people truly understand the effect of getting hot at the right time in sports. We see it all the time in college basketball when a team is on a roll heading into the NCAA tournament and exceeds expectations. Everything… literally everything is happening for the Bills now.
You see the effect when Allen and Diggs are being interviewed during postgame Monday Night Football, and they’re both laughing and joking with each other. I’ve heard broadcasters say it and it couldn’t be more true:
Who is having more fun playing football right now than the Buffalo Bills?
These guys are appreciating the moment and soaking it all in. They’re on a mission to continue the journey, humble and hungry.
I’ve heard the counterargument: “Well, maybe they’re enjoying themselves TOO much and underestimating opponents, feeling cocky and full of themselves.”
I might buy that if this were high school or college. However, the bottom-line is these guys are professionals. Plus Sean McDermott would never allow that attitude to seep into the locker room.
3) The Bills defense has turned a corner
Remember the days of the early 2020 season when we thought this defense had collapsed. Well, McDermott and Frazier’s group is almost back to 2019 form. Over the last five weeks, Buffalo’s defense has ranked 4th in passing yards allowed and 8th in rushing yards allowed.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. The pass rush shook the early-season rust off. AJ Klein suddenly decided to start playing big boy football midway through the year. Levi Wallace tightened up on the boundary. There are more accolades to go around, but those are just some that stick out to me.
Plus, Buffalo’s offense is helping out the defense immensely by simply keeping them off the field much of the game. To be a Super Bowl team, this defense doesn’t have to be the absolute best in the league. The strength of the Bills is their offense. McDermott’s defense just has to be solid.
And that unit is playing great football right now.
Maxwell Underhill (twitter: @cincodemaxo) is a contributor for BuffaloFanatics, blog writer for the in-season “Outrageous Predictions” column, and co-host of the “Buffalo Bootleg” vidcast streaming this Friday for Wild Card Weekend at 8pm ET on Facebook, YouTube, and Periscope.