ESPN simulation predicts Bills as Super Bowl champs
ESPN | Seth Walder
Bills win Super Bowl LVI
They did it! The Buffalo Bills won their first-ever Super Bowl, capping an incredible season in which they looked like serious contenders from beginning to end. Buffalo finished 13-4 in the regular season, and QB Josh Allen beat out Patrick Mahomes for the league's MVP award.
Buffalo lost a crazy 45-42 game to the Patriots in Week 13 (Patriots QB Mac Jones' future is bright!) and then never lost again. In the Super Bowl, Allen opened the game with a touchdown to receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Devin Singletary ran for two more scores. Cornerback Tre'Davious White jumped an interception with four minutes left in the fourth quarter to seal the deal. Final score: 27-17.
But the most important stat of all? Buffalo-area grocery stores sold out of every folding table in stock, as fans descended on the Orchard Park parking lot the night of the victory, even in the dead of Western New York winter.
Will the Bills win it all in real life? Well, we can't guarantee that. According to our 20,000 FPI simulations, they have a 9.4% chance of taking home the Lombardi Trophy, the third-best odds in the NFL behind the Chiefs (19.2%) and Buccaneers (14.1%). But no matter what, Buffalo will always have Simulation No. 13,330.
One bold prediction for the Bills 2021 season
Bleacher Report | Sheil Kapadia
Buffalo Bills: Their defense produces 50-plus sacks.
How lofty of a number is this? Last season, two defenses had 50-plus sacks. The Bills had 38. But there's reason to think they could see a big bump in 2021. The Bills have invested heavily in their defensive line. In the last three drafts, they've spent four first- or second-round picks on their pass rush (Ed Oliver, A.J. Epenesa, Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham). The Bills don't need all four to be Pro Bowlers. They just need one or two to have an impact and the others to contribute. Buffalo still has veterans like Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison. This could easily be a group with multiple guys producing six or seven sacks, rather than one player reaching double digits.
Some of the advanced numbers suggest that the Bills' pass rush was better last year than the sack numbers reflect. ESPN tracks pass rush win rate to measure how often a defense produces pressure within 2.5 seconds of the snap. Buffalo ranked second. If the Bills can develop some of their young players and convert more pressures into sacks, they can get to 50.
Biggest reason why the Bills will win the Super Bowl
CBS Sports | Chris Trapasso
The Bills possess the most vital luxury in today's NFL. An elite quarterback. I could spend five paragraphs listing all the ways Allen was elite last season, but I've already inundated you with nerdiness.
Football is the ultimate team game, but we all have come to terms -- even your grandpa -- that nothing sways a franchise more in the modern day than the play of its quarterback.
And Allen is the most formidable competition to Patrick Mahomes. Buffalo's quarterback is a prodigious specimen everyone agrees has at least close to the same volume of raw talent as his Chiefs rival. And that's without factoring Allen's magnificent running skills. Similar to Mahomes, Allen's grandiose natural abilities have been meticulously honed inside a cozy environment rife with smart coaches and stellar skill-position talent.
While the Bills undoubtedly boast one of the league's best rosters, reasonable arguments can be made that other top-tier clubs have more superstar power on defense, or, say, a sturdier offensive line, thereby theoretically giving those teams a better opportunity to take down the goliaths in the AFC or the juggernauts in the NFC.
But deep down, everybody knows Allen is the quarterback most suited to beat Mahomes and whatever the NFC has to offer in the Super Bowl.
Three NFL Media analysts pick Bills to win Super Bowl LVI
NFL.com | NFL Media
Three votes · +1200
Gennaro Filice: Bills over 49ers: San Francisco comes on like a freight train in the back half of the season, with rookie Trey Lance supplanting Jimmy Garoppolo to make sweet music in Kyle Shanahan's orchestra. But the beat stops on Super Bowl Sunday, when the Josh Allen project realizes its full potential, giving the Bills their first Lombardi Trophy.
Adam Schein: Bills over Rams. Josh Allen and Sean McDermott lead Buffalo to its first-ever Lombardi Trophy, and Allen delivers on his promise from my SiriusXM Radio show to jump through a table lit on fire, mega Bills Mafia style.
Matt Smith: Bills over Packers. Josh Allen follows up an MVP campaign with a Super Bowl victory, while Aaron Rodgers and the Packers realize they're a perfect pair and decide to run it back (despite the loss) for years to come.
Sean McDermott picked as Coach of the Year
Bleacher Report | NFL Staff
Coach of the Year
Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills (2 votes)
Consider this foreshadowing (if not a full-on spoiler) for what's to come. Our panel is rather high on the Bills, who won their first playoff game of the 21st century in 2020 and look tuned up for another competitive season with franchise quarterback Josh Allen coming off an MVP runner-up campaign.
McDermott was last year's runner-up to Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns, but Davenport and O'Donnell believe he'll take the next step in 2021.
"I thoroughly enjoy watching an organization build to a championship over a couple of seasons," O'Donnell said. "Buffalo is in a prime position to be that team in 2021. While they technically broke out last season with a 13-3 record, this year they have to contend with massive expectations both for Allen and the team as a whole. To keep that all in check, McDermott will have to put together his best coaching performance yet, and I do not have a hard time seeing him accomplish that."
And yet at DraftKings, eight coaches have better Coach of the Year odds than McDermott. That could have to do with the fact that he has so much talent with which to work. How does he overachieve? And the reality is overachievement is often a big part of this award.
X-Factor for the Bills in 2021
The Ringer | Ben Solack
Buffalo Bills: Edge A.J. Epenesa
Once upon a time, A.J. Epenesa was mentioned in the same breath as Chase Young. It was a while ago—before the 2019 college football season, when Epenesa was coming off a 10.5 sack, 16.5 TFL sophomore season. He'd match those numbers as a junior, but Young truly exploded while Epenesa looked slower and less flexible at 280 pounds. After the Bills snagged him in the second round, they asked Epenesa to cut weight, and he struggled to play at his new size early in the 2020 season. He had gotten as low as 245 and couldn't hang in the running game; the Bills drafted two rookie edge defenders, Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr., to challenge for his spot. But now, back up to 255 and hoping to hit 260, Epenesa is getting good reviews from the coaching staff and opposing offensive linemen like Bills starting LT Dion Dawkins. The job is there for the taking, and if Epenesa's weight and play style are settled, he has the inside track to add to the Bills' pass rush.
Reasons for optimism about the Bills 2021 season
NBC Sports | Cris Collinsworth
"Everything. That was really the first good year that Josh Allen put together. I think you — and you go, okay, you're No. 3, he was this, so you're No. 4, I think he was runner-up for MVP in year number four with Stefon Diggs and now Emmanuel Sanders and Beasley and these guys. What can this offense really be?
But they've added a couple of rookies in there, Rousseau and Basham and those guys that add a little bit to the pass rush that they needed to have at the end of the day.
But this is a legitimate team. Like when we watched Tampa in the preseason, that last preseason game go up and down the field, you're like, wow, the world champs are sharp. When you watched Buffalo play in that preseason game, you're like, wow, this team is legit. I think it's all there. I really do. This is a team that's felt like they should have been in the Super Bowl a season ago, and one more year of experience under their belt, they're going to be tough to keep out of there this year."