The Buffalo Bills have never won a Super Bowl – memorably losing four straight Super Bowls in the early 1990s – but the 2021 team could be the franchise’s best in many years and is a legit title contender. Here’s a breakdown of the AFC East favorites.
NFL Buffalo Bills Season 2021
Buffalo made a trade on Monday, although not one that will change any futures odds. The team traded defensive lineman and special teams contributor Darryl Johnson to the Carolina Panthers for a 2022 sixth-round pick. Johnson spent two full seasons with the Bills and totaled 25 tackles and two sacks in 31 games played. He ranked second on special teams with eight tackles in 2020.
The Bills were 3-0 this preseason, with star QB Josh Allen only playing in Saturday’s finale, a 19-0 victory over Green Bay. Allen, the 2020 NFL MVP runner-up completed 20 of 26 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. With Stefon Diggs (knee) held out, Allen completed five passes to Gabriel Davis and four apiece to Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders while leading the first-team offense to 14 points on three drives against Green Bay’s second-string defense. If Davis, who was terrific as a rookie in 2020, can continue his preseason form into the regular season, the Buffalo Bills will have a top-five receiving corps in the NFL.
Diggs will be ready for Week 1 against Pittsburgh. After coming over in a trade from Minnesota, Diggs had a monster first season in 2020 with the Bills. He led the league in receiving yards (1,535) and receptions (127), and led his team in receiving touchdowns (eight). After posting three 100-yard receiving games through the first 12 games of the season, Diggs had three consecutive games of more than 100 yards during the final month of the regular season. Diggs had an immediate rapport with Allen, who also enjoyed a breakout season that included 37 touchdown passes and eight touchdown runs.
A year ago, Allen was voted as the 87th best player in the NFL’s ranking of the top-100 players, which is voted on by players around the NFL. Heading into 2021, Allen’s now up to No. 10 overall. Allen just got a monster contract extension as well. The players and coaches the Bills added or were able to keep, including offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, almost certainly make his arsenal better and comfort him with continuity.
Defensively, the Bills are counting on an improved pass rush and improved resistance versus the run this year from a unit that underperformed for the first time since Greg McDermott arrived to take over the team in 2017. The team has a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate in first-round end Greg Rousseau out of the University of Miami. According to Pro Football Focus Rousseau has had the highest percentage of any NFL player in applying pocket pressure to opposing QB’s this preseason.
Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but in 2019, he was a tremendous force on defense for the Hurricanes, totaling 54 tackles, 15.5 sacks, and 19.5 tackles-for-loss in 13 games. McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier both like to rotate their defensive line heavily, so expect the Bills to keep running waves of fresh rushers out there all year long.
The fact the Bills went 3-0 this summer means nothing. Or that they have won eight straight in the preseason dating back to 2018. The Bills were 0-4 the year they went to their first Super Bowl, 1990. The Detroit Lions were 4-0 in preseason the year they went 0-16 (2008).
Buffalo is a 6.5-point home favorite for Week 1 vs. the Steelers. The Bills beat visiting Pittsburgh 26-15 in Week 14 last year. Allen threw two touchdown passes, and safety Taron Johnson returned an interception 51 yards for a score.
Expert Prediction: 12-5 record, AFC East champion
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