The last two decades have been cringe-worthy for the Buffalo Bills and their loyal fans. The Bills were so far removed from the postseason that their playoff drought spanned 17 seasons. The last time they won a playoff game dates back even farther.
Buffalo’s last postseason victory came in 1995 when it defeated the Miami Dolphins in the wild-card round. The Bills would go on to lose in the divisional round to queue a string of disappointing playoff losses and the eventual slump.
Instead of winning football games, the Bills were known for the extreme lengths fans would go during tailgates. I guess you can’t really blame someone for smashing a table if they also have to sit through another losing season. After just two winning seasons from 2000 to 2016—a 9-7 record in 2004 and again in 2014—Buffalo made a coaching change and got its franchise quarterback. The Bills finally returned back to the playoffs in 2017 and last season. While both trips ended in a wild-card loss by seven or fewer points, Buffalo has made positive strides these last few seasons that should leave fans hopeful; as we all hope their table-smashing days won’t be their only form of enjoyment on Sundays.
In order for the Bills to continue to be successful in 2020, they need a consecutive trip to the postseason, but what’s more? They also need to win.
Quarterback Josh Allen led the team to a 10-6 record and to overtime in the wild-card round. The narrow, three-point loss ended the Bills’ impressive run in their first double-digit win season since 1999. Buffalo, however, can’t stop there. It will need to see continued improvement from Allen in Year 3. The team’s success will line up with his progression.
In 2019, Allen amassed 3,089 yards and 20 touchdown passes with only nine interceptions to build off an impressive rookie campaign. There were a few low points for the young passer, including losing that winnable playoff game to the Houston Texans and some unfortunate decision-making, but another strong season from Allen can propel Buffalo up a division that will look a lot different without quarterback Tom Brady in New England.
Allen will have a well-rounded cast including one of the team’s biggest offseason additions: wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The colossal trade gives Allen a true deep threat capable of opening up the offense. Diggs is coming off a 63-reception, 1,130-yard season with 15 deep catches in 2019, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats; the mark was the most in the league. It couldn’t be a better pairing for Allen who absolutely loves the long ball.
Diggs will fit into a well-established offense. The Bills have the highest offensive continuity, per a study conducted by ESPN in June. John Brown and Cole Beasley will fill out the receiving corps, Devin Singletary will once again man the backfield with rookie Zack Moss as RB2, and the starting offensive line, which will need to keep improving in 2020, is heading in the right direction.
The defensive line could also continue its upward trajectory. There’s plenty of depth there and some new faces in veterans Mario Addison and Vernon Butler, who have spent the bulk of, if not all of, their careers in Carolina, and rookie A.J. Epenesa. Buffalo’s defensive front was one of the better units at stopping the run last season after allowing the 11th-fewest yards per game (105.3)—and can now better pressure opposing quarterbacks with the addition of Addison, who has recorded at least nine sacks in each of his last four seasons. The Bills can continue building one of the better young defenses, which finished last season third in total defense and second in scoring defense.
Buffalo is an exciting, young team whose future is in good hands with Allen. He’s already turning out to be the franchise quarterback the Bills needed and another strong season with a better playoff run can cement that status. The goal now is not just to make the playoffs. The Bills need to win when they get there.