Welcome to the 23rd edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race in the Perspective of Chase’, an almost daily article on your favorite NFL team. We just wrote about the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, who are going to host the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. The Bills are the betting odd favorites to win the Super Bowl in 2022. This team went from a mediocre ball club under Tyrod Taylor to constructing one of the most dominant teams with one of the most dominant players in all of the National Football League! Can they live up to the hype of being the “favorites” after consecutive losses in Kansas City come postseason time? Let’s, get into this!
Before we get into this I would like to let you know that we are doing something very similar to this on the Cool Sports Newsletter for the NBA if you want to check that out. Also on there we are ranking different NFL positions. So far we have done running backs and wide receivers with quarterbacks posting the day of opening night between LA and Buffalo. But let’s get back to Buffalo.
The Buffalo Bills were the NFL version of the Washington Wizards in the early-mid 2010’s. And what I mean by that is that they were really bad in the early 2010’s but after accumulating some talent in the draft and in free agency, turned themselves into a playoff contender. The Bills best season in this stretch was a loss in the Wild Card round and the Wizards best season was a loss in the 2nd round over this same time span. But luckily for the Bills, they fixed that problem. Because being mediocre, right in the middle of the pack, not contending for a championship is the worst thing that could ever happen to a team. And now with Bradley Beal’s new contract, the Wizards will most likely continue to be right in the middle, not good enough to contend for a championship. The Bills got out of this mess, and it started with a blockbuster draft pick trade, that ended up shaking up the entire NFL.
In the 2017 draft, there was a lot of talent. Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt are two of the best defensive players in the NFL. Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette, Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, George Kittle, Marlon Humphrey, Marshon Lattimore, Deshaun Watson, Buda Baker, Dalvin Cook, Cooper Kupp and others. But the best player in the draft and another one of the best players in the draft were essentially traded for each other. The Bills had the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft after finishing with a 7-9 record. They traded that pick to Kansas City in exchange for pick 27 in the draft, some more picks in the draft and a 2018 1st round pick. The Bills ended up selecting superstar cornerback Tre’Davious White with that 27th overall pick. White has been ranked one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL for a while, and has been the key component to the Bills defensive success. The Bills also got the 25th pick from Kansas City in 2018, and traded that up to Baltimore’s 16th pick where they selected now 2x Pro Bowl linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. But, with that 10th overall pick they gave up to Kansas City, it ended up being superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. However, they actually ended up making this deal a win-win situation for Buffalo and Kansas City, since Buffalo selected Josh Allen with the 7th pick the next year in 2018.
In Allen’s rookie season, he struggled heavily. In 12 games, Allen threw for ten touchdowns and twelve interceptions. The Bills also struggled, going 6-10. In 2019, Allen got better. Despite having a “fumbling issue” if you want to call it that, he threw for 20 touchdowns to just nine interceptions and led the Bills to a 10-6 record, which was good enough for the 5th seed in the AFC. In the playoffs against Houston they led 16-0 early. However, the Texans came all the way back to force the game into overtime, where they won. It wasn’t Allen’s fault however. He threw for 264 yards and zero interceptions and ran for 92 yards on nine carries. Now, the offense not scoring down the stretch was an issue, but it was continuous improvement from him season-by-season. But they didn’t give Allen a lot of talent to work with. They had Zay Jones and John Brown as their leading receivers in his first two seasons. What could he do with more offensive firepower? Well, the Bills wanted to find out!
The Buffalo Bills traded a 2020 1st round pick, 2020 5th round pick, 2020 6th round pick and 2021 4th round pick to Minnesota in exchange for Stefon Diggs. Diggs had been coming off two straight 1,000 yard receiving campaigns, but after a divisional round loss, the Vikings wanted to move in a new direction for their WR1 next to Adam Thielen. Funny enough, with that 2020 1st round pick (which was 22nd overall), the Vikings selected Justin Jefferson! But the Bills were curious, can Josh Allen become a true franchise quarterback with Diggs, since they didn’t have a good running game?
In 2020, the Bills exploded. Allen was playing MVP level football and the Bills soared to a 13-3 record, the top of the AFC East (and 2nd in the AFC) for the first time since 1993! Allen threw for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns and just ten interceptions. He made the All Pro 2nd team and was 2nd in MVP voting. It was mainly due to the addition of Diggs, who had a career year of his own. Diggs had 127 receptions for 1,535 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. He led the NFL in both receptions and yards and made 1st team All Pro. The Bills were able to beat the Colts and nearly shut out the Ravens before losing to the 14-2 Chiefs in the AFC championship. In 2021, the Bills weren’t quite the same team, partially due to the injury of Tre’Davious White. They started 7-5, but a 4-1 finish to the season gave them an 11-6 record, the 3rd seed in the AFC. Allen still played amazing, especially towards the 2nd half of the season. They beat a 10-7 New England to move onto the divisional round to go back in Kansas City. After being down nine, a deep touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis kept them in the game. They took a field goal lead with 13 seconds left, and Patrick Mahomes was still able to force it into overtime, where the Chiefs received and ended the game. Allen threw for four touchdowns (all of them which were to Gabriel Davis) and they still lost!
Going into the offseason, they knew they were literally just a couple tweaks away from being the Super Bowl champions for the first time in the franchises history. In the offseason, they really just made one big move, and that was signing Rams linebacker Von Miller! Miller has not returned to his pre season ending injury self in 2019 and throughout his entire career. However, he is still easily one of the best at what he does in the game. He ranked on the NFL Top 100 (again) and made a huge impact on the Rams run to a Super Bowl championship. While this is a great signing, they should not have signed him to a six year contract, especially for $120 million! Miller is great don’t get me wrong, but we have already seen that he is starting to regress and becoming more injury prone. He’s currently 33 years old and the Bills are going to be paying him $29 million when he’s 39 years old. And once he starts to decline, he’s an un trade-able contract. They should have signed him to a short term deal. If he wouldn’t sign for a short term deal, knowing this will be his last chance to get a big contract, then they should have gone after someone like Za’Darius Smith, who would improve the pass rush and just signed a 3 year, $42 million deal. Just something to think about. He is a perfect move to win now, but they should have signed him to a much shorter deal.
Also in free agency, the Bills signed WR Jamison Crowder to be their WR3/4, with Diggs, Davis and Isaiah McKenzie probably being WR1, 2 and 3. Speaking of wide receivers, they let go of Cole Beasley after a near 1,000 yard season in their 13-3 year. But in free agency, that was pretty much it. In the draft, they took Kaiir Elam to improve the secondary at cornerback. I really like Elam after a great season with Florida. He’s only going to improve what is probably already the best secondary in the NFL. Also trying to find a future great running back, they selected Georgia back James Cook.
Besides the Miller signing, it was a pretty quiet offseason up in Buffalo. This team has been so close to hoisting that Lombardi trophy but they haven’t just yet. This team is going to have a very good season in 2022. The Bills will start 4-2 going into the bye and then go on two different three game winning streaks in the 2nd half of the season, eventually finishing with a 12-5 record, the #2 seed in the AFC. They will defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in a very good game in the Wild Card round, but then choke a two possession lead to Baltimore in the divisional round at home, falling short of the AFC championship for the 2nd straight season. This team has all of the talent to win a Super Bowl, but I just don’t see it happening in 2022!
My prediction: Buffalo finishes 12-5 (#2 seed in the AFC), makes it to the divisional round but falls to Baltimore at home!
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