Collapse: The Buffalo Bills Are Favorites to Miss the Playoffs

  • The Bills are 5-5 and 1.5 games out of the AFC North lead
  • Buffalo was third in preseason Super Bowl odds (+900)
  • Josh Allen leads the league in interceptions and turnovers
  • The defense has fallen to a bottom-half unit over the last six weeks
Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills have gone from a top team in the NFL to one that is expected to miss the playoffs. [Image:]

Buffalo Bills out of the playoffs?

The Buffalo Bills were third in preseason Super Bowl odds and heavy favorites to win the AFC East—now they’re 5-5, two-to-one to make the playoffs, and on the verge of a total collapse.

all they have to show for their efforts are a league-wide rule change…

Buffalo was propped up as one of the best teams in the NFL for the past few seasons. But after a few years of being labeled a championship contender, all they have to show for their efforts are a league-wide rule change, a couple of coach firings, and a huge bill of player contracts they’ll soon look to ship to other teams.

But how did it get this bad this quickly, and can the Bills’ season be saved? Let’s dive into the answers.

From all angles at once

The Bills entered the year at around -300 to make the playoffs and +120 to win the AFC East at DraftKings Sportsbook. They were given early notice that their season would not go how they planned when they fell to the New York Jets 22-16 on the first Monday Night Football game of the season, during which Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles after four plays.

They went on a quick three-game win streak after that but are 2-4 since. They also have not covered the spread in six straight weeks, most recently falling to the Denver Broncos 24-22.

“one-man-band” style of offense

Quarterback Josh Allen, third in preseason MVP odds, is first in total touchdowns and fourth in QBR. However, he’s also first in interceptions and total turnovers in what is a perfect representation of his “one-man-band” style of offense.

The Bills have been unlucky when it comes to injuries. Von Miller missed time, Dawson Knox is on injured reserve, and both Matt Milano and Tre’Davious White are out for the year. 

Where Buffalo has not been unlucky is in its approach. They’ve allowed Allen (who leads the league in interceptions by every per-year mark since he entered the league) to continue his reckless style of football with no pushback. Then, when things finally came to a head a week ago, they fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey instead of addressing the real issue.

They also went all-in on a 32-year-old Miller and signed him to a lucrative six-year contract despite his vast injury history and their perilous cap situation (second-least cap space in 2023).

Just as quickly as the Bills jumped from irrelevance to a divisional powerhouse, they’re staring at potentially very dark times.

Tracking the numbers

Looking at DraftKings’ betting odds, the Bills are +200 to make the playoffs and -250 to miss them. 

They’re also +400 to win the AFC East, +1500 (sixth) to win the AFC, and +3000 (10th) to win the Super Bowl.

If the Bills don’t make the playoffs and win at least one game, head coach Sean McDermott’s seat will get extremely hot. The team also needs to address the future of star wideout Stefon Diggs, who is frustrated with his situation and whose brother, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, tweeted that he should get out of Buffalo.

allowed an average of 21.5 points over their last six games, which would rank 18th

They also need to regain their defensive identity, which was the backbone of their rise through the ranks. The Bills ranked first in points allowed per game in 2021 (18.3) and fourth in 2022 (19.1). Now, in a year in which scoring is down league-wide, they’ve allowed an average of 21.5 points over their last six games, which would rank 18th if applied to the entire season. 

The good news is they’re still at 18.4 points allowed per game overall and have impact players that will return from injury. But their ability to return to a top defense also depends on whether their swagger and confidence survive their downswing.

According to Tankathon, the Bills have the fourth-hardest remaining strength of schedule. They still have games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, and Miami Dolphins on the horizon.

Buffalo can basically guarantee a spot in the playoffs if it wins six of its next seven games. At 10-7, there are a number of tiebreaker scenarios that could come into play, especially with how crowded the AFC is.

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