The 2022 postseason is here, and so are Super Bowl LVII predictions.
Before the 2022 regular season began, many sports analysts looked at the Bills as Super Bowl favorites with a highly-talented roster that featured a newly-acquired veteran edge rusher Von Miller. What was a rather healthy roster that many thought would lead the Bills to the ultimate victory in February turned into a banged-up one as the season progressed.
The team rallied together amidst the injuries, experiencing the unexpected when S Damar Hamlin suffered and recovered from a cardiac arrest, and a Buffalo blizzard to come out of the regular season 13-3 and No. 2 in the AFC. The way the Bills persevered week in and week out showed the national audience how resilient this 2022 team really is. That resiliency is why some analysts' predictions haven't changed from the beginning of the season.
Here's what national analysts are saying about the Bills and their fate in the postseason.
Sports Illustrated: Experts pick Bills to win Super Bowl 57
Between eight Sports Illustrated writers and editors, seven different teams were picked to reach Super Bowl LVII and six different champions. Out of the eight brackets, the Bills are champions in two of them.
Greg Bishop: Bills 28, 49ers 17 + MVP goes to Josh Allen
Senior writer Greg Bishop's bracket predicts Bills to make it all the way. Bishop said while he chose the NFC's most complete team to compete in the Super Bowl, he picked the AFC's most deserving one with "an inspirational story worthy of a movie. Years of tortured history upended. It's the Narrative Bowl, and it would be glorious."
"I like the Bills a lot, in the overall sense: stout defense, a healthier Josh Allen compared to various points earlier this season, tons of offensive weapons and the emotional heft of playing for Damar Hamlin. That's not to say the situations are equal, of course, but imagine if Buffalo did romp. All those years of tortured history. All those Super Bowl losses. All that took place over the course of this uneven season. You can't make up a better story, unless it features a healthy Hamlin not having to endure what he has endured." – Bishop
Michael Rosenberg: Bills 24, 49ers 16 + MVP: Josh Allen
"If my bracket is completely accurate, and of course it will be, then Cowboys-Eagles will be the most memorable game of the first two weekends, but Buffalo–Kansas City will be the matchup that determines the Super Bowl champion. I am picking the Bills to beat Kansas City for one of the same reasons that I believe Patrick Mahomes is the MVP: Buffalo has a greater team around Josh Allen than Kansas City has around Mahomes. The Bills are an incredible story, but that's not why I picked them. I think, top to bottom, they're the best team." – Rosenberg
Around the NFL Writer Kevin Patra revealed five clashes he'd like to see in Arizona this February and the Bills fall at the top of that list. The storylines surrounding this potential matchup intrigue Patra between "the Bills surging to a Super Bowl off Damar Hamlin-infused emotion and the 49ers -- playing the best football of any team in the league, with a third-string, seventh-round quarterback in Brock Purdy helming Kyle Shanahan's offense."
"Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and an explosive Bills offense against DeMeco Ryans and the top defense in the NFL would make a dynamite chess match. Allen taking off running, leading to battles with Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and a Niners D that brings a sledgehammer could become legendary. Purdy, for our purposes, would remain the starter even if Jimmy Caroppolo were to be cleared, given that the rookie hasn't lost a game as a starting QB in the NFL. The last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft has played splendidly, throwing for at least two TDs in every game since Jimmy G was sidelined by a foot injury. How would he fair against Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier's D? Matt Milano going toe-to-toe with Christian McCaffrey. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk versus Tre'Davious White. The game would be dripping with juicy matchups regardless of which team has the pigskin." – Patra
Cynthia Frelund | NFL Network: Bills have a 17.1% chance to win the Super Bowl
NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund broke down the numbers to provide some analytical context to what the odds are saying. As of January 11, Caesars Sportsbook indicated that the Bills have a 17.1% chance to win the SB and a 27.3% chance to AFC. The only team with higher odds is the Kansas City Chiefs with an 18.9% chance to win the SB and a 38.2% chance to win the AFC.
· Bills odds to win Super Bowl: +400
· Bills odds to win AFC: +200
"Buffalo's efficiency on both offense and defense carried through from last season to this one. Over the past 15 years, only three teams have scored 28-plus points per game while allowing an average of fewer than 18: the 2019 Ravens, 2021 Bills and 2022 Bills. I have a lot of extremely impressive notes on Josh Allen, but the one area of his game that stands out in the context of this particular postseason: His ability to throw passes -- specifically touchdown passes -- on the run. He led the league with nine such scoring strikes during the regular season, while also boasting 22 TD passes with a time to throw of 2.5-plus seconds (tied for third in the NFL, per NGS). Why do these numbers stand out in this season's Lombardi chase? The NFC's most likely Super Bowl reps -- Philadelphia and San Francisco -- are exceptional at bringing pressure and limiting rushing yards allowed. Allen's ability to create, confuse and leverage an offensive line that is uniquely suited to him drives exceptional value. His ability to connect on passes in this manner has my models favoring Buffalo against any NFC opponent." – Frelund
Conor Orr and Albert Breer | Sports Illustrated: How the Bills can reach the SB
The unpredictable plays and outcomes in the NFL come in the postseason, and Conor Orr and Albert Breer dig deeper into each of the teams who made it to the postseason. Below is why the Bills can make it to Phoenix, but Orr and Breer also go in-depth as to what will prevent them from going. Two areas that stand out that could hold the Bills back are the offensive line and the state of the secondary, with S Micah Hyde as an X-factor.
Why the Bills will make it to Phoenix:_"This Buffalo team has been through a lot and has shown incredible resilience throughout ‑from tragedy locally in the offseason, to two snowstorms that rocked the region and knocked their schedule off-kilter, to the Damar Hamlin situation last week. On top of that, this is still a loaded and fairly balanced roster that's explosive as any on offense and disciplined and sound on defense. And they have Josh Allen, who has Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox, and a running game that's improved over the course of the year behind Devin Singletary and James Cook." - Orr & Breer _
Austin Gayle | The Ringer: Bills rank No. 3 in postseason power rankings
Austin Gayle, Audience Engagement Manager of The Ringer, ranks the Bills at No. 3 in his postseason power rankings with the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 1) and Kansas City Chiefs (No.2) ahead of them. Gayle details why he believes they have what it takes to ultimately survive the 1-0 elimination tournament and win the Super Bowl.
"Josh Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs are two of the NFL's premier players at their respective positions, and Sean McDermott and his coaching staff have maximized Buffalo's talent on both sides of the ball. They've impressively rallied through unprecedented adversity following Damar Hamlin's terrifying injury onMonday Night Football_in Week 17. The Bills are an extremely talented team with even more to play for as they continue to honor Hamlin during their pursuit of a Super Bowl title." – Gayle _
Steve Serby | New York Post: Bills to "Win the Big One for Damar"
Ahead of the regular season, New York Post sports reporter Steve Serby predicted a Bills-49ers Super Bowl matchup. Even after the roller-coaster-like regular season, Serby is sticking with his pre-season prediction and believes the Bills will win out for Damar Hamlin. Here's how he thinks the Bills will get there …
Bills 33, Dolphins 17 – "Win one for Damar."
Bills 33, Chargers 21 – "Win one more for Damar."
Bills 33, Chiefs 30 – "Win another for Damar."
"The next Allen-Mahomes dream showdown. An eerie environment at a neutral site — the halfway point between Buffalo and Kansas City is Indianapolis FYI. Gabe Davis won't catch 4 TD passes against the Chiefs this time, but Stefon Diggs will haul in a couple against a group of young, inexperienced cornerbacks, including No. 1 draft pick Trent McDuffie. Last one with the ball wins. Allen is the last one with the ball." – Serby _
Bills 33, 49ers 27 – "Won the Big One for Damar."
Bill Barnwell | ESPN: Bracket predictions lead to Bills as Super Bowl champions
ESPN Staff Writer Bill Barnwell breaks down his Super Bowl bracket game by game starting with Sunday's matchup against the Dolphins. In what he describes as "unlikely to be a competitive game," Barnwell's score prediction for Sunday is Bills 27, Dolphins 7.
Looking ahead, Barnwell predicts that the Bills will meet the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional round. While there are a lot of factors such as turnovers and the effectiveness of their respective pass rushers that could sway the game, Barnwell believes it will be a close one with a final score of Bills 27, Bengals 24.
"We know Burrow can do it in the postseason on the road because he beat the Titans and Chiefs and nearly toppled the Rams in their home stadium in the Super Bowl. I wouldn't be shocked if the Bengals beat Buffalo, and they deserve to be right alongside the Bills and Chiefs in the top tier of teams in the AFC. It's just easier for me to imagine a scenario in which Buffalo and frigid conditions in western New York force Burrow into an unrecoverable mistake." – Barnwell
Next up: Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Almost every regular or postseason game between these two teams has been one neither team will forget. And if the two meet again for the second consecutive time in the postseason, it will be another for the memory books. With the offensive threats on both sides of the ball, Barnwell predicts a Bills 35, Chiefs 27 final score.
"I don't think either of these teams will have trouble moving the ball, which turns this into a battle of how each performs in the red zone. The variance of what happens in three or four trips there in a single game is incredibly high, but while the Bills rank in the top 10 in conversion rate on both offense and defense inside the 20, the Chiefs have the second-worst red zone defense in football. I don't think the Chiefs can make Allen pay for his occasional transgressions near the goal line, and that will end up being the difference." – Barnwell
And finally, Super Bowl LVII which Barnwell predicts will be between the Bills and the San Francisco 49ers. If this comes to fruition, it will feature a variety of intense matchups such as Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds v. Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle – and the never before QB matchup between Josh Allen and Brock Purdy. Score prediction: Bills 27, 49ers 17.
"A 49ers victory would probably require two or more takeaways, a great day in the red zone, and a big play or two from McCaffrey in the passing game. It's hardly impossible to rule out that scenario, but there would be more paths toward Buffalo winning the game. I picked the Bills over the 49ers before the season, so I'll stick with that now." – Barnwell
James Dator | SB Nation: Why the Bills would be the most fun team to win the SB
Entering the regular season, senior staff writer James Dator sensed that the Bills were "most of the country's second team." Incorporating that into what was an emotional and story-filled season would be the best way to close out the 2022 season for Dator.
"A Bills win would have been the ultimate underdog comeback story, completing this team's rebuild and ascension years in the making. Now we have Damar Hamlin's incredible story to add to the tapestry of this season. Hamlin collapsing on the field will never be forgotten for those who watched it live. Waking up from a coma and asking whether the Bills won only added to the story. Now he's recovering there is absolutely nothing that would be better than seeing Buffalo hoist the Lombardi Trophy and win a ring for Damar." – Dator
Bucky Brooks | NFL.com: James Cook is the Bills' postseason X-factor
In the eyes of NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks, the Bills' offense can find success in the postseason with "contributions from the running backs to balance the attack."
"As an electric runner/receiver out of the backfield, Cook has the potential to put up 100-plus scrimmage yards in a variety of ways to keep defenders from exclusively keying on No. 17. In fact, he did just that in December wins over the Patriots and Bears. If the rookie can give Buffalo a few explosive plays (runs of 10-plus yards/receptions of 20-plus yards) in the playoffs, opposing defensive coordinators will have a tough time matching up against a diverse offense with dazzling playmakers all over the field." – Brooks
Brandon Schlager | The Sporting News: Bills-Eagles Super Bowl matchup + Josh Allen as MVP
The 2023 NFL playoff brackets are open and NFL experts weighed in on where the Bills fall into the mix – two experts believe the Bills will hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.
Why Josh Allen is MVP favorite: "He does it all for the Bills, especially in the postseason, and if Buffalo can finally break through and reach the Super Bowl, it will be on the strength of Allen's arm and legs." – Matt Lutovsky
"Some of the throws Allen made against the Patriots were just ridiculous, he's playing some of his best football, and despite a somewhat uneven regular season, the Bills have rolled since mid-November. This is a dangerous football team, and Allen is at the head of it. They're going to be tough to beat." – Kevin Skiver
Why Edward Sutelan believes RB James Cook will become a star in the playoffs: "The rookie has come on strong in the second half of the season for the Bills. While Devin Singletary still leads the team in carries since Week 11 with 85, Cook has been more productive, taking his 56 handoffs for 338 yards for 6.0 yards per carry compared to Singletary's 5.0. Cook is also fifth on the team in receptions with 14 since Week 11 and has 84 receiving yards and another touchdown. Expect him to break off a few big plays for Buffalo." – Sutelan
Why the Bills have a trusted offense: "Buffalo is the only team in the postseason who averaged more than 250 passing yards and more than 125 rushing yards during the regular season. That balance, creative play-calling, and Josh Allen's ability to scramble and extend plays makes them the most-threatening offense in this year's playoffs." – Bill Bender
"The argument for the Chiefs is right there and in your face, but the Bills have the 1-2-3 punch of Diggs-Davis-Knox, with Isaiah McKenzie tossed in for good measure. All of that mixed with the talent of Allen, and the Bills have one of the most complete offenses left. They're also more balanced than people think, with a pass percentage toward the middle of the league." – Skiver
Why the Bills will win the AFC: "It's tough to pick against Kansas City – and Cincinnati knows what it takes to get through the AFC – but Buffalo has been the most complete team in the AFC all season. As long as Josh Allen can limit red-zone turnovers, this should be the year Buffalo finally breaks through and gets back to the Super Bowl. It helps they won't have to go into Arrowhead should they face the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game, too." – Lutovsky
"In the AFC, Buffalo will to have a difficult route, but Josh Allen and Co. shown time and time again they have the mettle to get there. They have the quarterback, the weapons, and the defense to get there. They've already beaten the Chiefs this year. And they're carrying in momentum. It's hard to see anyone topping them, despite several teams having compelling cases." – Skiver
Why the Bills will win the SB over the Eagles: "In the AFC, Buffalo will to have a difficult route, but Josh Allen and Co. shown time and time again they have the mettle to get there. They have the quarterback, the weapons, and the defense to get there. They've already beaten the Chiefs this year. And they're carrying in momentum. It's hard to see anyone topping them, despite several teams having compelling cases." – Lutovsky
"Buffalo is a team that has done nothing but pick up steam this year, and it deserves credit for that. Allen will be the key. He had a three-game stretch in which he didn't throw a pick, then threw three in the Bills' final two games. If he can reel that in and make good decisions, no one is going to topple Buffalo this season, and they're finally going to bring the Lombardi to Western New York." – Skiver