1. What the Bills need to do to make a deep playoff run
ESPN writer Bill Barnwell looked into the AFC playoff picture, specifically the wild-card race, explaining why the Bills have a 95.9% chance of clinching a spot.
Chance to make the playoffs: 95.9%
Projected playoff matchup: at Texans
While FPI projects the Bills to wind up as the 5-seed nearly 69% of the time in its simulations, the Bills could still move up, down or out of the playoff picture. They still have a 1.3% chance of winning the AFC East, although it would take a victory over the Patriots in Foxborough, two more wins over the Steelers and Jets, and an upset by either the Bengals or Dolphins over the Patriots. If Ryan Fitzpatrick pulls out a victory over the Pats and nets the Bills their first postseason home game since 1996, the Bills should build a statue of their former starting quarterback.
Barnwell credits the defense for keeping it close against the best offense in the league on Sunday.
The Bills are typically willing to cede yards on the ground to stop the pass and rank 22nd in rush defense DVOA, but it was awesome to see them work in lockstep and communicate as they dealt with the many challenges Jackson presents an opposing defense. Coordinator Leslie Frazier & Co. don't often use veterans like Star Lotulelei and Lorenzo Alexander for the majority of snaps, so it was fun to see those guys stand out in larger roles against a run-heavy attack.
To make an appearance in the playoffs that includes wins, Barnwell says the Bills need Allen to improve against pass pressure.
Allen won't have much time to get back on track. He just lost to the Ravens, who have the league's best pressure rate. Over the next two weeks, he goes up against the Steelers and Patriots, who each rank in the top seven in pressure rate, before finishing up with the Jets. If the Bills continue on their present track and then upset the Texans or Chiefs in the wild-card round, they'll have a likely rematch with the Patriots or Ravens looming in the divisional round. Allen has grown, but to make a deep playoff run, the Bills need him to take another step forward and thrive against pass pressure.
2. Former Bills offensive lineman named a finalist for the NFL 100 All-Time Team
Offensive guard Joe DeLamielleure is one of 40 offensive linemen named as a finalist for the NFL 100 All-Time Team. Out of the 40, 15 guards made the list including DeLamielleure. The offensive lineman played in the league from 1973-1985 and was with the Bills from 1973-1979, 1985.
2003 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee. Selected by Bills in 1st round (26th overall pick) in 1973 draft. Durable, played in 185 consecutive games, did not miss game until 13th/final season. Anchored Bills' famed "Electric Company" offensive line. Best known as lead blocker for O.J. Simpson, NFL's first 2000-yard rusher, 1973. Helped Bills to 3,088 rush yards in 1973, NFL record for 14-game season. Earned 6 straight Pro Bowl selections, 1975-1980 seasons. 1st-team All-Pro in 3 consecutive seasons, 1975-1977. Named to NFL's All-Decade Team for 1970s. Born March 16, 1951, in Detroit, Michigan.
Out of the 15 guards named as finalists, only seven will make the all-time team. The show revealing the members of the NFL 100 All-Time Team airs every Friday at 8 p.m. through Week 17 on NFL Network. Four former Bills have already been named as finalists—Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, O.J. Simpson and Tom Sestak. Smith and Simpson made it onto the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
3. MMQB: Love the Bills' fight
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer broke down what happened around the league in Week 14. Even though the Bills suffered their fourth loss of the season, Breer still thinks they are a talented team with a lot of opportunities ahead.
Love the Bills' fight: down 24–9, coming all the way back against the best team in the league, and getting to the doorstep of tying the game. (Obviously, the aforementioned fourth-and-eight from the Baltimore 16 didn't work for them.) But they were right there, and their persistence and awareness were illustrated greatly on the play before that fourth down, a third-and-8 on which a Ravens blitz caused a jailbreak. Josh Allen broke two tackles and threw the ball away. In that one fell swoop, Allen showed not only toughness and kept his head about him by avoiding a fourth-and-20 or so by getting rid of the ball. I continue to think Buffalo's a year away from something really good. And they're pretty good as is.
The fight in this team led by Sean McDermott and quarterback Josh Allen has the makings of a team who can have success for years to come, not just a one-and-done type of team.