Back at the beginning of training camp, no one expected the Buffalo Bills to be where they are right now.
Powered by an elite offense and an improving defense that hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 24 points in their past five games, the Bills are 12-3 and are on the brink of securing the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs. Head coach Sean McDermott is in contention for the NFL Coach of the Year award and general manager Brandon Beane is being considered for the Executive of the Year award. The list of accolades the Bills have racked up this season is endless.
Their AFC East clinching win over the Denver Broncos last Saturday was another step in the right direction, but their throttling of the New England Patriots on Monday night might’ve been even better. The thing about this Bills team, which captured their first division title for the first time since 1995, is that they are continuing to get better as the weeks go by.
They aren’t even close to the team that took down the New York Jets, 27-17, in Week 1 or the team that lost back-to-back games against the Tennesse Titans and Kansas City Chiefs in Weeks 6 and 7. The Bills are now a perennial Super Bowl contender for the first time in a long time and they have the roster to back it up.
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Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs Are Just Scratching the Surface
On Monday night, Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs torched the Patriots secondary as the NFL’s leading receiver caught nine passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 16.1 yards per catch. Allen was just as good, throwing for 320 yards and four touchdowns, registering his eighth game with 300-plus passing yards this season.
But the thing with this new duo in Buffalo is they’ve only been playing together for less than a year and Diggs believes they have so much more room to grow.
“I think we’re just scratching the surface on the potential that we have,” Diggs said during his post game video conference call on Monday. “I feel like Josh is still a young quarterback but he’s playing some elite ball. He’s playing some great ball for the quarterback position. He’s throwing for 300-plus, he’s making some elite decisions, he’s running with the ball. He’s doing things that I’ve seen him do all season. I don’t know the old Josh, I don’t know the past Josh, I just know the Josh of right now and he’s playing some high-level football.”
Last season, no one would’ve thought that Allen would make the improvement that he has. He went from a chaotic type of quarterback who would force things and unravel under pressure, to one of the calmest gunslingers in the league today. He’s poised. He’s making high-level decisions and he’s been taking care of the ball when he’s needed to.
In the second half of the year, Allen has put the league on notice and Diggs has been a big part of that in a way. With wide receiver John Brown on the injured reserve, Diggs has emerged as the best receiver in the league as he leads the NFL in both receptions (120) and receiving yards (1,459).
But that consistent growth goes back to the work that Allen and the Bills have put in throughout the offseason and McDermott is appreciative of that.
“He’s hungry to grow and when your top player or your top players embrace that growth mindset and lead by example I think it goes a long way in our locker room,” McDermott said in a video conference call after the game on Monday.
With the success the team has been having, Diggs can’t help but get excited for what he and his guys can do down the stretch either.
“Six months ago, who would’ve thought we’d be here right now, nobody would’ve, especially like everybody else,” Diggs said during his post-game video conference call. “I just went into this thing ready to grind and let the chips fall where they lay, so who would’ve thought it would’ve gone this well. I’m just thankful to be where I am.”
Buffalo’s Defense Has Improved Just As Much
While Allen struggled last season, the Bills defense carried the offense as they created turnovers and limited opponents as much as they could. In the early parts of this season, the Bills defense struggled as they looked to create an identity for themselves but as the year has gone on they’ve done just that.
Since their bye week, the Bills have become one of the best defenses in the league as they’ve limited their past five opponents to 16.8 points per game while only allowing 223.6 total yards per game. Monday was also the first time in 10 games that the Bills didn’t force a turnover either. They had forced 16 turnovers in the past nine games.
Now as the Bills get set to host a home playoff game in the first round of the playoffs, they are playing well on both sides of the ball and are ready to do something special for the first time in a long time.