1. NFL.com analyst labels Bills a dark-horse title contender
It hasn't been since the remarkable run of Super Bowl teams in the early 1990s that the Bills have been thought as legitimate contenders in the playoffs. Things are different now. With a top-three defense and a rising quarterback, anything can happen in the playoffs.
NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks labeled them as a dark-horse Super Bowl contender.
With the Bills' straightforward defensive approach in mind, opponents are challenged to win their matchups against an emerging superstar on the island (Tre'Davious White) and a monster in the middle (Tremaine Edmunds). When you combine Jordan Phillips' breakout season as an interior sack artist (9.5 sacks) with the timely contributions of Shaq Lawson (6.5), Ed Oliver (5) and Jerry Hughes (4.5) as complementary pass rushers, the Bills are the blue-collar defense that can feast on aggressive opponents who get careless with the football.
Offensively, the Bills' QB1 gives them a chance to make a run due to his dynamic game. Josh Allen is far from a polished player, but he is a dual-threat playmaker with the potential to post a 200/100 game (200 passing yards/100 rushing yards) with multiple touchdowns on the ground. No. 17 is on pace to join Cam Newton (2011 and 2015) and Kordell Stewart (1997) as the only players in NFL history to tally 20-plus touchdown passes and 10-plus rushing scores in a single season.
Brooks credits the Bills coaching staff for allowing the team to play controlled football that challenges opponents to play mistake-free. In a win-or-go-home scenario the Bills' understanding of limiting turnovers, penalties, and eliminating big plays should give them an opportunity to knock off a higher seed.
2. Bills undecided on next week's roster
No matter what happens around the NFL, the Buffalo Bills are firmly locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff picture. The Bills will face either the Houston Texans or the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round.
With the playoff position firmly locked up, the Bills may rest some starters in the Week 17 matchup against the New York Jets.
"Yeah, no, we'll talk about it," McDermott said. "Brandon [Beane] and I will sit down and talk about it and make sure we do what's right for the team."
3. Bills gave themselves a chance at the end
Much like the Week 4 game against the Patriots, it came down to the final possession for the Bills. In Week 4 it was Matt Barkley in at quarterback after Josh Allen left with a head injury but in Week 16 it was Allen's chance to try to win.
Buffalo showed heart and fight throughout but ended up just short again.
"It's one game. It doesn't define us," Tre'Davious White said. "We are still in the playoffs, we are in the dance. We've got another tough one next week against the Jets. We just have to go in with a positive mindset and just try to win that one. We just didn't come out on top. Those guys had a great game plan. Whenever we had them behind the sticks they were able to make some key plays to get back ahead of the sticks. There's some things we have to prevent."
Ultimately it came down to the Patriots making more plays than the Bills to put them over the top.
"We knew we had to finish the game," Jordan Poyer said. "He's the greatest quarterback to ever play the game and we knew they were going to come back and try and strike. Like I said, they just made more plays than we did today. I'm proud of our guys today, but in the end, there are no moral victories."