The Buffalo Bills are a team that most football fans are aware of, but that might be more for their failures than their successes. Back in the 1990’s they made four straight Super Bowls (it should be noted that no other team in the history of the NFL has achieved this feat)and lost every one. Since then, the team has enjoyed limited success, but this season they are looking like one of the better teams in the league.
The Bills were a charter member of the old American Football League (1960) and joined the NFL when that league merged with the NFL for the 1970 season. They were placed in the American Football Conference East Division and have remained there ever since. The last time they won the division was 1995. It has been tough competition with the New England Patriots, the most successful franchise of the 21st century.
Bills in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
The city of Buffalo is one of the smallest markets in the league, but they have had their fair share of elite players play there throughout their history, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, when they were one of the most successful franchises in the league. The following players were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as Bills: running back OJ Simpson, offensive lineman Billy Shaw, quarterback Jim Kelly, offensive lineman Joe DeLamielleure, running back Thurman Thomas, defesive end Bruce Smith and wide receiver Andre Reed. Simpson might be the most famous of that group, though he is more notorious for is criminal behaviour well after his retirement. Kelly, Thomas, Smith and Reed were the nucleus of those teams that made those Super Bowl appearances.
Buffalo also has the coach, general manager and owner from that Super Bowl era in the Hall of Fame too. They are Marv Levy, Bill Polian and Ralph Wilson respectively.
The Bills in 2020
The modern Buffalo Bills are still playing in the same stadium, though it is now called Bills Stadium (formerly Ralph Wilson Stadium, after the original owner). The current coach is Sean McDermott, the current GM Brandon Beane and the current owners Terry and Kim Pegula. The Pegula’s may be a lightning rod for criticism for some of their other ventures, but it is hard to find much fault with their management of the Bills right now given the team outlook is so positive for the future.
For a long time the Bills were floundering but the future is bright with the combination of McDermott and Beane leading the team. They have made the playoffs in two of the last three seasons and as this is being written they are in first place in the AFC East.
Key to the Bills resurgence has been finding the right quarterback in Josh Allen. A former first round pick from the Univesity of Wyoming, Allen is a wonderful athlete who has a strong arm and is also an excellent runner for the position. The reason the team is really taking off this season though, is that he appears to have matured into a comfortable passer, making their offense one of the best in the league right now. They also made a significant trade with the Minnesota Vikings in the offseason, giving up a first round pick for receiver Stephon Diggs. Diggs is one of the best in the league at his position and has settled in nicely in Buffalo. Recent top picks on offense make this one of the more exciting teams in the league and they look ready to start winning in the playoffs.
Buffalo also has one of the best defenses in the league. They have for the past few seasons, but now that it is paired with a productive offense they look like contenders for the Super Bowl once again. They will be an awesome futures play right now.
Buffalo Bills Betting Preview
The Buffalo Bills set the tone for a successful season by winning their first three games in 2019. They used another three-game winning streak in November to increase their record to 9-3, which put them in position to clinch a playoff berth for the second time in three seasons.
Buffalo finished with a 10-6 regular-season record and a wildcard berth. The Bills had control of their first-round playoff game with a 16-0 lead at Houston, but they fell apart the rest of the way and lost in overtime, 22-19. It would have been the Bills’ first postseason win since 1995.
Key offseason moves
It didn’t take Buffalo long to show its cards during the offseason. The Bills proved they are all-in to win now when they traded four draft picks, including their 2020 first-rounder for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Buffalo had been floating along with its receiving corp before the 2019 season and signed John Brown and Cole Beasley to provide a boost. Those players performed well last season, but they won’t provide what Diggs can.
Diggs is a true No. 1 receiver with a strong track record of production in five years with Minnesota. Two seasons ago he caught 102 passes, and last season he averaged 17.9 yards per catch.
While trading for Diggs brings confidence to the offense, it remains to be seen if the same feeling will exist about the defense.
The Bills lost leading sackers Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson to free agency, and they couldn’t fill those voids with two players who have produced at the same level. The two top players they did sign, however, could get them close.
Mario Addison, a defensive end who had 18.5 sacks the last two seasons with Carolina, signed a three-year deal. Buffalo selected Iowa defensive lineman AJ Epenesa in the third round of the draft. Epenesa had 30.5 tackles for loss and 22 sacks in his last two college seasons.
Re-signing a guard that has been on the team for one season may seem nondescript, but when the Bills gave Quinton Spain a new three-year contract it signaled that they are happy with the way their offensive line is developing. That’s important when second-year quarterback Josh Allen is looking to build momentum after a successful rookie season.
Spain played four seasons with Tennessee before signing a one-year deal with Buffalo before the 2019 season. He rewarded the Bills by playing in all 16 games for the first time in his career and allowing zero sacks. Re-signing Spain gives Buffalo four returning starters along the offensive line.
Other key offseason moves include signing veteran cornerback Josh Norman, picking up the option on promising cornerback Tre’Davious White’s contract, and drafting Utah running back Zack Moss to be a strong back-up for Devin Singletary.
Top 3 players
CB Tre’Davious White: White showed plenty of promise during his first three seasons, but made a big leap last season. Now he’s in the conversation of the top defensive backs in the league. White led the NFL with six interceptions last year, and he proved he could be at his best when it matters most by intercepting two passes in a win over Pittsburgh in week 15 that clinched a playoff berth. All of that success led to a first-team All-Pro selection, and there is no reason to believe he cannot maintain his status in the top tier of cover corners.
WR Stefon Diggs: Last season was a peculiar, albeit highly successful season for Diggs with the Vikings. His 63 receptions were the lowest since his rookie season, but his 1,130 receiving yards and 17.9 yards per reception average were career-highs. His yards per reception is likely to take a step back in Buffalo, but he could catch closer to the 102 passes he amassed in 2018 and still surpass 1,100 yards for the season. The Bills have speedy wideout John Brown to stretch the field so Diggs may be used more on short and medium passes, which is a bigger strength than the deep ball for quarterback Josh Allen.
RB Devin Singletary: Singletary got his feet wet last season as a rookie playing a mostly complementary role to veteran Frank Gore. In 12 games, Singletary rushed for 775 yards and scored two touchdowns. The most noteworthy aspect of his performance was that he averaged 5.1 yards per carry, which ranked fourth in the league. Gore signed with the Jets in free agency, which opens the door for Singletary to get a heavier workload. He will give way to third-round rookie Zack Moss at times, but he should get most of the carries on early downs.
Regular season win Total (8.5 at DraftKings and 8.5 at FanDuel)
If Buffalo wins more than eight games this season it will be the third time it has done so in four seasons. The last time that happened for the Bills was 1995-1999 when they did it four times in five seasons.
Odds to win Division (+120 at DraftKings and +125 at FanDuel)
The Patriots won every AFC East title in the last 11 years and 16 of the last 17, but the preseason odds suggest the race is a lot closer than it’s ever been. The Bills are the favorite on DraftKings, but the Patriots are not far behind at +130. On FanDuel, the Patriots are the favorite at +115.
Odds to Win Super Bowl (+2500 at DraftKings and +2800 at FanDuel)
The Bills have never won the Super Bowl and have not won a playoff game since 1995.
Prediction for the season
Buffalo’s upward trajectory is obvious, and that’s on top of a solid foundation head coach Sean McDermott has built in his first three seasons. It’s difficult to make the playoffs in the NFL so to do it twice in three years is a big feat. McDermott could establish himself as a respected head coach by qualifying three times in four years.
With Tom Brady gone from New England, the door is open for a different team to win the division. That won’t be easy now that the Patriots have replaced Brady with Cam Newton, but the Bills are in a great spot to get over the hump.
Buffalo will win the division and at least one playoff game in 2020.