1. One step the Bills can take to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI
The Bills this season tied a franchise-high 13 regular-season wins and added two more in the playoffs - which marked the first playoff victory for the team since 1995. They fell short in the AFC Championship Game to the Chiefs, but the team is set-up to be a contender for years to come. Around the NFL editor Gregg Rosenthal explained how each AFC team can take the Chiefs’ place in next year’s Super Bowl. Here is what he said about the Buffalo Bills:
The Bills must: find the next defensive cornerstones.
The four-year ascent accomplished by coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane could be taught at Team Building University. My "one thing" the Bills needed to do last year to make the Super Bowl was make life easier for QB Josh Allen, and they succeeded beyond anyone's dreams, nearly making the big game. Now it's time to clean up the defensively oriented McDermott's side of the ball. There isn't a pass rusher to be excited about. The secondary is missing at least one cornerback, and linebacker Matt Milano is about to be a free agent. With an explosive offense in great shape long-term, the best way to make Allen's life easier now is to find more defensive difference-makers to slow down the Chiefs, especially up front.
Scroll through to take a look through each player's statistics from the 2020 Season, presented by ConnectLife.
2. Scott Pioli: "It's not just that they're winning, it's how they're winning and how they built it"
This NFL season was unprecedented for many reasons and the success the Bills had was a tribute to all the hardworking men and women in the organization. The winning culture that Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane have built for this franchise is starting to pay dividends and receive national attention. Former NFL front office executive Scott Pioli was on WGR 550 on Monday and he had very high praise for the Bills organization and their 2020 season.
"Well, I think there's so many things going right in Buffalo right now, it's pretty amazing," Pioli stated. "I have so much respect and I start at the top, for ownership, for Sean, for Brandon, for Daboll and for Leslie. There are so many people in that organization that are so good, and we haven't even gotten to the players yet. I was a huge, huge supporter all this season because it's not just that they're winning, it's how they're winning and how they built it. They put a process in place, they paid attention and they were thoughtful about how they put this roster together, how they put the team together and how they put the locker room together. I just can't say enough good things about their organization."
3. ESPN label Bills a clear-cut Super Bowl LVI contender
The Bills came one game shy of the Super Bowl LV, but the team proved this season that they belong in the conversation when it comes to teams ready to compete for the Super Bowl. ESPN's NFL Nation released their Super Bowl timelines for all 32 teams. All teams were tiered into four categories and voted on by six ESPN analysts. The Bills were in the top tier and are viewed as contenders right now for the Super Bowl.
Clear-cut contenders right now
Last Super Bowl appearance: 1993
2020 FPI rank: No. 6
Strategy for becoming a Super Bowl contender: Draft, develop, re-sign. That's always been the plan at One Bills Drive, and general manager Brandon Beane said there will be an even greater emphasis on it this offseason as the Bills prepare for a drastic decrease in the salary cap. They agreed to multiple multiyear extensions with some franchise cornerstones last offseason, and that likely will be the case again.
Biggest X factor: Josh Allen's continued elite play. The third-year quarterback was an MVP candidate in 2020, and Buffalo will need him to keep ascending toward superstardom as it continues its transformation into an offensive powerhouse. If Allen is good, the Bills will be as well. If 2020 was his ceiling, perhaps so is the AFC Championship Game for Buffalo. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques