The Buffalo Bills have failed to reach the Super Bowl in the last two seasons despite possessing one of the strongest rosters in the NFL. The 2021 season ended in heartbreaking fashion against the Kansas City Chiefs as Patrick Mahomes orchestrated a game-tying drive with 13 seconds left on the clock before the Chiefs won the game in overtime.
The Bills overcame adversity in the 2022 campaign, but their season came to a premature end in a hammering at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals in the Divisional Round. Sean McDermott’s men lost key players during free agency in the 2023 off-season, including outstanding linebacker Tremaine Edwards, and now face the challenge of sustaining their form amid an ever-improving AFC Conference.
Even retaining their AFC East crown will be a challenge following the arrival of Aaron Rodgers at the New York Jets. Their odds to win the Super Bowl have taken a fall from their position as favorites ahead of the 2022 campaign, but there are offers available through OddsChecker for Bills fans to back their team to end their Super Bowl drought. McDermott, Josh Allen, and his team have the potential to push all the way, but they must break through the barrier of failure that has loomed over the franchise.
The Bills are very similar to the Indianapolis Colts teams of the 2000s, facing a formidable AFC Conference that presents challenges almost every week and then the prospect of staring down a dynasty in the playoffs in the form of the Chiefs. Like the Bills, the Colts had their troubles breaking through with an outstanding quarterback in Peyton Manning due to the brilliance of the 2000s New England Patriots. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had their number in the same way that the Bills have been undone by the Chiefs.
There has not been much between the two teams and Buffalo even won the last regular season meeting between the sides. However, when it comes to crunch time, Kansas City knows what it takes to win, whereas Buffalo cannot close out games. The Divisional Round loss in 2021 should have fallen in Buffalo’s favor, but the lack of nous under pressure was evident. In 2022, the Bills were not gritty enough to stand up to the Bengals in the trenches. It has been a comedy of errors in the playoffs and has prevented the franchise from reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since 1994.
Life is only going to become tougher as the Chiefs are going nowhere, while the Bengals have retooled after their loss in the playoffs. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a team on the rise with Trevor Lawrence and a Super Bowl winning coach Doug Pederson. The Jets could be a contender if Rodgers clicks, with the potential of dethroning the Bills in the AFC East.
The Miami Dolphins gave Buffalo all they could handle in the Wildcard Round with third-string Skylar Thompson at quarterback. If starter Tua Tagovailoa can remain healthy, the AFC East could well be a gauntlet for the Bills and that’s without mentioning a potential revival for the New England Patriots. Buffalo may have missed a golden opportunity to cash on a window where beating the Chiefs could have been the difference between two Vince Lombardi trophies and their remaining empty trophy cabinet.
McDermott’s team has been weakened by the loss of Edmunds along with useful role players such as Isaiah McKenzie and Devin Singletary. The arrivals of Dalton Kincaid and Justin Shorter in the NFL Draft can address the departures in the receiving core, while linebacker Dorian Williams could slide into Edwards’ position. But, there’s no guarantee that the arrivals will produce the same level of form that their predecessors enjoyed in a Bills uniform. That is the issue facing Buffalo, who need to rely on Allen to elevate the performances of the players around him in the same manner as Mahomes and Joe Burrow.
The frustration of defeat was evident in the actions of Stefon Diggs on the touchline against the Bengals. The Bills’ players are feeling the pressure of the chase, and that will only get tougher as the current roster begins to age. Diggs will be 30 in November, while others such as Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are edging towards the end of their careers at the top. They might not get another season to challenge for the Super Bowl.
Although it might not seem it, Super Bowl windows can close very quickly. As long as Allen remains one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, the Bills will always be competitive. But, surrounding him with sufficient talent will always be a challenge and the 2023 season might be the last before the roster undergoes a dramatic shift.