TONY’S TAKE – A PREVIEW OF BILLS-BRONCOS
by Tony Fiorello
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 05: Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott in a game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on Sunday, November. 5, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Welcome to Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season. Here at Buffalo Sports Page we will attempt to inform and educate our readers about the Buffalo Bills’ upcoming opponent and what each team might do to emerge victorious.
The Bills’ 10th game of 2023 will take place at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York as they face the Denver Broncos. Here’s what you should know:
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 10: Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos talks to head coach Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos during the second quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field At Mile High on September 10, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
BRONCOS’ OFFENSE HAS SOME WEAPONS, BUT IS ALSO HAMPERED
After years of employing head coaches who were better suited as coordinators (Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio and Nathaniel Hackett) and having underwhelming win-loss records as a result, Broncos general manager George Paton and new owners Rob Walton and Greg Penner had enough. To bring credibility back to their franchise, they hired former Super Bowl-winning coach Sean Payton from the New Orleans Saints this past offseason to bring one of the most explosive attacks in pro football to the Mile High City.
Operating Payton’s scheme is quarterback Russell Wilson, who is best-suited to operate an offense that can use rollouts, bootlegs and passing plays outside of the pocket – mostly due to his 5’11” frame, which limits Wilson inside the pocket. Wilson is among the game’s better deep ball throwers because of his arm strength, accuracy and impeccable mechanics.
He feels pressure well within the pocket and can extend plays due to his quickness and second-reaction movement. Some of his athleticism may be declining due to age, but Wilson is still a threat and he also has a habit of sometimes dropping his eyes away from his receivers to the pass rush in front of him, but also possesses the rare ability to pick them back up and refocus on what is happening down the field.
For the most part Payton’s passing game, while at its core a West Coast offense, is built through having big, physical targets who can get open over the middle of the field, especially on deep in-cuts, or “dig” routes. Payton has employed such players before like Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham and Michael Thomas, and 6’4” wide receiver Courtland Sutton certainly fits the bill. Tim Patrick, who boasts similar size to Sutton, could also fill that role but he is injured with a torn Achilles and Jerry Jeudy is a solid route runner. Rookie Marvin Mims Jr. is the slot wideout and Adam Trautman is the starter at tight end.
Running back Javonte Williams is underrated by most across the NFL. A short, sturdy running back who has good balance and vision, Williams can take a pounding between the tackles and can also make plays in the passing game. Ditto that of backups Samaje Perine and Jaleel McLaughlin, who all used liberally on checkdowns and screens, and on inside runs, misdirection plays and draws. Denver’s starting offensive line is made up of Garett Boles – who was victimized by multiple holding penalties early in his career, but has since improved – Ben Powers, Lloyd Cushenberry III, Quinn Meinerz and ex-San Franciso 49er Mike McGlinchey.
Additionally, Payton likes to have his offense line up in base personnel with a fullback and tight end split out wide with their top two wideouts in the slot to create mismatches against linebackers and safeties. He will also use post-wheel route combinations (or any type of vertical routes) to clear out zone defenders deep while his running backs pick apart linebackers underneath on option routes.
Another tactic Payton is fond of is throwing out of run-heavy personnel. According to former MMQB/SI writer Andy Benoit, “No coach uses formations with six offensive linemen more than Sean Payton, who loves to throw from that grouping. Also, its tight ends and running backs often help with chip blocks. This slows those players as they’re getting into their routes, but that’s fine because they can serve as check-down options.”
Through eight games the Broncos are 12th in points scored, 22nd in total yards, 11th in rushing and 28th in passing. They’re also 16th in red zone efficiency and 28th in sacks allowed per play.
DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 29: Justin Simmons #31 of the Denver Broncos intercepts a ball intended for Marquez Valdes-Scantling #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs at Empower Field At Mile High on October 29, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
DENVER’S DEFENSE TALENTED ON BACK END, UNTESTED UP FRONT
One of the Broncos’ ex-head coaches, the aforementioned Joseph, is back in Denver to run Payton’s defense and he leads a 3-4 unit that has some talented parts but hasn’t been able to put all the pieces to the puzzle together just yet. Joseph usually prefers to use single high coverages (Cover One and Three) on the back end and bring various blitzes up front, but he doesn’t quite have the ideal personnel to make it work – as evidenced by Denver ranking last in points, total yards and rushing yards surrendered and 26th versus the pass. Those numbers were made worse as a result of being beaten by 50 points at the hands of the Miami Dolphins early in the season, where they became the first team to give up 70 points in a game since 1966 (they’re also 16th in takeaways and 11th in red zone defense).
In response, Joseph has tried to mesh his preferred schemes with the approach used by former Broncos employees Fangio, Ed Donatell and Ejiro Evero. Relying on a four-man pass rush with stunts, twists and slants and two-deep safety looks often, the system heavily employs well-disguised hybrid coverages that feature man and zone concepts – especially Cover Four, or “quarters”, with each defensive back dividing the field into fourths and matchup principles to take away vertical concepts. While the Broncos are a base 3-4, Joseph (and his predecessors before him) will also mix in 5-2 fronts to stop the run and dime versus the pass, and he does a great job with safety and coverage rotations in long passing situations.
This approach has been gaining in popularity in recent years throughout the NFL. According to Smart Football’s Chris B. Brown, “It’s the most important defensive scheme of the past decade…. At first glance, Cover 4 looks like an anti-pass prevent tactic, with four secondary defenders playing deep. But therein lies its magic. The four defenders are actually playing a matchup zone concept, in which the safety reads the tight end or inside receiver. If an offensive player lined up inside releases on a short pass route or doesn’t release into the route, the safety can help double-team the outside receiver. If the inside receiver breaks straight downfield, it becomes more like man coverage.
“This variance keeps quarterbacks guessing and prevents defenses from being exploited by common pass plays like four verticals, which killed eight-man fronts. The real key to Cover 4, however, is that against the run both safeties become rush defenders (remember, the outside cornerbacks play deep). This allows defenses to play nine men in the box against the run – a hat-tip to the 46’s overwhelming force.”
Denver’s secondary is the strength of this unit. All-Pro Justin Simmons and the hard-hitting Kareem Jackson, who is serving a suspension for multiple violations of the NFL’s unnecessary roughness penalty, are the Broncos’ starters at safety. Jackson will be replaced by Delarrin Turner-Yell, and cornerback Patrick Surtain II has become every bit as good of a defensive back as his father, Patrick Surtain Sr. was. Damarri Mathis is the starter opposite him.
The Broncos’ front seven is mostly young and unproven, save for veteran inside linebackers Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton who are savvy and quick. Zach Allen, D.J. Jones, Jonathan Harris, Jonathon Cooper and Baron Browning are the other starters up front. They’ve done a better job of late in communicating at the line of scrimmage and not giving up big plays – they’ve given up less than 20 points in each of their last three games (twice against Kansas City) – but they can be beat with crossing routes and through usage of motion and shifts, as evidenced by losses to Miami and the Chicago Bears.
CINCINNATI, OHIO - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals is sacked by Leonard Floyd #56 and Jordan Phillips #97 of the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter at Paycor Stadium on November 05, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
BUFFALO’S DEFENSE ELITE, BUT UNDERGOING CHANGES IN 2023
For the majority of head coach Sean McDermott’s time in Buffalo, the Bills’ defense – led by longtime stalwarts such as Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Matt Milano and Ed Oliver – has been one of the league’s best in the regular season. Points allowed (second in the NFL in that category in 2022), total yards per game allowed (sixth), rushing yards surrendered (fifth), takeaways (tied for fourth), interceptions (tied for fourth) and red zone defense (second) have generally been the categories that the Bills have excelled at (last year’s 15th ranking against the pass not withstanding).
Buffalo, however, was inconsistent in two areas – creating a consistent pass rush and, from time to time, stopping the run. These issues are mainly caused by poor tackling (a year ago their missed and broken tackle percentage were among the highest in the NFL), a lack of gap integrity and a lack of versatility along the defensive line. This problem came up again this year against the Jets in Week One, where the Bills allowed 172 yards on the ground but a week later they held Josh Jacobs – last year’s rushing champion – to -2 yards on nine carries, the first time a reigning rushing champion was held to negative yards in a game according to ESPN.
To address this over the years, McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier (who has taken this season off, leaving McDermott to call the defensive plays) have brought in more talent. Out went names like Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Star Lotulelei, Carlos “Boogie” Basham and Harrison Phillips, and in came talented and versatile linemen like Greg Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa (who earlier this season became the first Bills defensive lineman to return an interception for a touchdown since Aaron Schobel in 2009), Da’Quan Jones and Tim Settle, and the return of former Bills like Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson were also welcomed additions. This season Buffalo has signed veterans such as Leonard Floyd, Kaylon “Poona” Ford and Linval Joseph to help out, and they’ve fit like a glove – especially Floyd, whose length and athleticism were needed on the edge. They’ll be needed even more after Jones, perhaps their best run-stuffing lineman, tore a pectoral muscle against Jacksonville.
Beyond improving against the run, the Bills had also lacked an elite pass rusher off the edge who could command double teams on a consistent basis since Mario Williams was employed nearly 10 years ago. With this in mind, in 2022 general manager Brandon Beane signed future Hall of Famer Von Miller. But Miller suffered a torn ACL after putting up eight sacks in 11 games and missed the first four games of this season while recovering on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. He’s back now and on a snap count as he shakes off the rust, but his return is good news regardless. With Miller the Bills were fourth in the NFL in pressure rate with four or less pass rushers in 2022, without him they were 27th in that category – however their pressure rate has been among the best in the league thus far even without Miller.
Schematically the Bills’ defense mostly relies on basic zone coverages after the snap (they’re usually among the top units in the NFL in usage of Cover Two, Four and Six) but before the snap it is complex – safety rotations to disguise their intentions keep opposing quarterbacks guessing and selective pressure looks at the line of scrimmage and coverage exchanges are the team’s calling cards.
Those blitz looks usually happen in the A-gaps with the smaller, but smart, speedy and athletic Milano and Terrell Bernard (replacing the departed Tremaine Edmunds) to confuse opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks, but they rarely send five or more pass rushers – their favorite blitz tactic besides A-gappers are four-man zone exchanges. Bernard has stepped up to the challenge so far, leading Buffalo in tackles and recording two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery against Washington – becoming the first NFL player to do so in one game since Brian Urlacher in 2007. Milano, however, is out for the foreseeable future after suffering a broken leg and a knee injury against the Jaguars, so backups A.J. Klein, Tyrel Dodson and rookie Dorian Williams will need to pick up the slack. So far they’ve struggled to defend the run well because of a lack of experience and not diagnosing those plays at the line of scrimmage (especially Williams) and Klein and Dodson are limited athletically.
The Bills mainly utilize nickel personnel, as evidenced by Buffalo using five defensive backs between 90 and 100 percent of their snaps since 2020. They did use nine snaps of dime against Kansas City in Week Seven last year – a matchup that saw them rely on three-man rushes and Milano utilizing a spy technique on Patrick Mahomes, and that setup returned against Tampa Bay in Week Eight with three safeties (on 38 percent of their snaps) to help offset the loss of Milano in pass coverage. Generally it features Hyde and ex-Ram Taylor Rapp on the backend and Poyer near the line of scrimmage.
White, one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, was back to full form after tearing his ACL against the New Orleans Saints two years ago but is injured again – this time after rupturing his Achilles tendon against Miami in Week Four. Opposite him at the other boundary corner spot were second-year man Christian Benford, Dane Jackson and Kaiir Elam (who has underwhelmed so far as a pro).
Slot corner Taron Johnson remains elite, but with White’s upper-echelon ability to play both man and zone coverage gone (and Benford and Hyde out this week), will McDermott lean on more zone from Jackson, Elam, Benford, Johnson, Josh Norman and newly-acquired Rasul Douglas than they ever have? It would make sense, especially given that Douglas and Norman are primarily zone corners. Douglas, an ex-Green Bay Packer and Philadelphia Eagle, has great size and length, is versatile and a gambler – he can take chances because he understands route combinations very well.
Hyde and Poyer have reunited to form perhaps the league’s best duo on the back end after being in and out of the lineup with various injuries throughout 2022, and the rangy and physical but inconsistent Damar Hamlin has also returned to full health after suffering a cardiac arrest episode against Cincinnati in Week 16.
Special teams were also solid for the Bills in 2022, having been 13th in punt return average and sixth in kick return average (which was boosted by Nyheim Hines’ two kick returns for scores in Week 18, the first player in Bills history to return two kicks for scores in one game and the first kick return for a touchdown by a Bill in three years) and were 18th and third in covering punts and kicks, respectively. However, Hines was lost for the season after a knee injury was sustained during the summer and the team allowed a punt return for a touchdown in overtime in Week One – the first time an NFL game ended on a punt return score since 2011.
Despite their injuries, through nine weeks Buffalo is fifth in points allowed, 17th in total yards allowed, 14th against the pass, 18th versus the run, seventh in red zone defense, tied for fourth in sacks despite blitzing among the least of any NFL team and tied for fourth in takeaways. Their nine sacks and four picks against Washington allowed them to be the first team to put up those numbers in a game since the 1985 Dallas Cowboys, but they haven’t gotten an interception since Week Four.
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 05: Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) carries the ball for a touchdown during the game against the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on November 5, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BILLS’ OFFENSE AN UPPER-ECHELON UNIT, BUT ALSO GETTING A FACELIFT
Led by quarterback Josh Allen and a cadre of gifted pass-catchers, since 2020 the Bills have boasted one of the NFL’s elite offenses for the first time since the K-Gun was running roughshod over the league 30 years ago. Allen’s improved processing skills, ball placement, patience within the pocket and touch on passes have allowed Buffalo to become one of the most feared attacks in pro football (he was second in passing and total touchdowns and seventh in yards in 2022.)
His core of targets is deep and talented. Stefon Diggs is an exceptional route runner who excels in making contested catches and operates well out of bunch and stack formations. His presence along with the physical but inconsistent Gabriel Davis has balanced out Buffalo’s wide receiver corps. But one element – speed – was lacking a year ago, so the Bills addressed this by letting veterans Jamison Crowder, Cole Beasley, Isaiah McKenzie and John Brown walk and brought in names like Trent Sherfield, Deonte Harty and Andy Isabella to go along with second-year man Khalil Shakir. Tight end Dawson Knox (out after wrist surgery) is now joined by rookie first-round pick Dalton Kincaid from Utah, and their diverse skillsets should allow coordinator Ken Dorsey to throw curveballs at opponents with multiple tight end sets.
The Bills’ offensive line is composed of Dion Dawkins, former Dallas Cowboy Connor McGovern, Mitch Morse, rookie O’Cyrus Torrence and Spencer Brown. This crew along with fullback Reggie Gilliam, while not elite, has mainly executed outside zone runs along with zone-reads, pin-and-pull concepts, traps, counters, split inside zone and sprint draw plays sprinkled in for running back James Cook. Cook has taken on more of a featured role since Devin Singletary left for Houston and is now backed up by physical ex-Patriot Damien Harris (out with a concussion and sprained neck) and veteran Latavius Murray, who has rushed for a touchdown with six NFL teams – tied with Adrian Peterson for the most all-time. Former Jaguar and Buccaneer Leonard Fournette, a bruising type, was also signed to the team’s practice squad and can catch out of the backfield.
The starting front five, while not bad, has been iffy in providing push in the running game and in pass protection over the last couple of years. Most of the team’s rushing production came from Allen’s legs and few came from their backs – the Bills’ rushing attempts per game in 2022, 18.2, was last in the NFL but that number has increased this year. Also, in Week One against New York Buffalo surrendered five sacks, tied for the fifth-most in Allen’s career, but has been taken down just eight times in the last eight weeks.
Buffalo’s passing offense is a Patriots-style system built upon concepts involving option and crossing routes from the slot, downfield routes from the outside, run-pass options (especially in the red zone), designed quarterback runs to take advantage of Allen’s mobility, deep dropbacks and alignments that create favorable matchups and some trick plays with jet/orbit motion and sweeps. They’ve also used plenty of pre-snap motion and shifts – in the past it was mostly out of “11” personnel groupings (one back, one tight end and three wide receivers) and “10” personnel (one back, no tight ends, four receivers) – and will also go no-huddle from time to time to limit the opposition’s defensive calls. However, they’ve gotten away from those concepts recently and tried to rely on their talent winning one-on-one matchups too much instead of the scheme helping them.
The Bills’ multi-receiver sets were traditionally their offensive calling card. In 2020 they used four wide receivers or more 155 times – the second-most in the NFL at the time – and they utilized someone in motion on 43 percent of their offensive snaps, a huge increase from their 25 percent rate in 2019. Former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll – now the head coach of the New York Giants – also called for a passing play on 64 percent of their first downs, according to ESPN Stats and Information – no team with a winning record in the last 20 years did it more than Buffalo – and that rate continued in 2021 and ’22 with “11” personnel used on nearly three-quarters of their plays.
However, Buffalo’s usage of “12” personnel (one back, two tight ends) has gone up with the employment of Knox and Kincaid. They were last in the NFL in usage of that grouping a year ago (three percent – it has gone down again after injuries to Knox and Kincaid throughout the year), and their amount of play-action passes has increased after they dropped from being a top-four team in those concepts used in 2020 and ’21 to 25th a year ago – especially while under center, which has helped the Bills be the most efficient play-action team in football. It’s also given Diggs time to set up double moves, masks any pass protection weaknesses and improved their timing, rhythm and efficiency.
Yet for everything the Bills did right on offense last year (first in third down conversion percentage, second in points scored and in total yards per game, fifth in passing, seventh in rushing and ninth in red zone percentage), two flaws remained – they were one the league’s sloppiest teams with 27 turnovers and the team’s ability to create sustained offense slipped during the stretch run of the season. Allen had 14 interceptions and 13 fumbles in the regular season and had three turnovers in the wild card playoff round versus the Dolphins (mainly due to perceiving pressure that wasn’t there, playing too fast and a lack of speed at wideout) and turned the ball over four times against New York in Week One, but has cut down on that number since (he has just 11 turnovers through nine games).
In 2022 the Bills won eight in a row (including playoffs, their longest streak since eight in 1990) and included winning six straight non-Sunday games – the first team to have done so since the 1962 Boston Patriots. Additionally Buffalo lost just three games by a total of eight points and tied the franchise mark for wins in a season with 13 (along with the 1990, ’91 and 2020 teams).
Through nine weeks the Bills are fifth in scoring, total yards and passing yards, and 16th in rushing. They’re also the best in the league in third down rate and third in red zone efficiency, yet their offense has performed poorly in their last five games. In that timeframe they’ve averaged just 20.2 points per game, but from Weeks Two through Four they had 41 points per game – which has resulted in alternating wins and losses in their last six weeks. They also haven’t won the turnover battle since Week Four.
Punter Sam Martin and kicker Tyler Bass have also been their usual excellent selves, especially Martin as of late. While McDermott elected to punt four times in fourth-and-one situations against Tampa (according to OptaSTATS, no other NFL team in the last 30 years got within a yard of or past midfield on each of their last four drives of a game and punted all four times), Martin answered the call by pinning the Bucs inside their own 10-yard line three times.
CINCINNATI, OHIO - NOVEMBER 05: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Buffalo Bills catches a touchdown reception against DJ Turner II #20 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter at Paycor Stadium on November 05, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jeff Dean/Getty Images)
STATS AND MUSINGS
· Allen has compiled 37 career regular season games with a passer rating of 100 or better and has reached that mark in 20 of his last 31 outings. In those games Buffalo’s record is 34-3, and he had a perfect quarterback rating against Miami in Week Four – Doug Flutie was the only other Bills passer to accomplish that feat in one game.
· Only Steve Young has had more career regular season games (eight) with 300 or more passing yards and 50 or more rushing yards than Allen (seven). He’s second all-time in games with a passing and rushing score (38) – behind just Cam Newton (64).
· Buffalo’s franchise quarterback has eight career games with three passing touchdowns and a rushing score – only Drew Brees and Tom Brady (nine) have more all-time. He also became the first signal-caller to throw for 250 yards, run for 50, toss three touchdowns, run for one, complete 80 percent of his throws and win a game in league history against the Rams in Week One last year. His completion percentage against Miami in Week Four was 84, the highest in team history.
· Allen has moved past Young for second all-time in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback – only Newton has more (75).
· Buffalo’s quarterback has defeated every team in the NFL at least once except two – Arizona and Philadelphia. Allen’s also become the only signal caller with 4,000 passing yards and 750 rushing yards in a season twice (he’s the only one to do so once).
· Diggs and Allen have connected for a touchdown 36 times, second on the Bills’ all-time list (Kelly and Andre Reed have 65). Diggs also tied Bill Brooks’ team record for touchdowns in a season in 2022 (11), has moved past Elbert Dubenion for fourth in franchise history in scores, has moved into fourth in team history in receptions and has surpassed Frank Lewis for fifth in team annals in yards. He and Stevie Johnson are the only Bills with three straight 1,000 yard seasons.
· Speaking of Diggs, he became the sixth player ever with 100 receptions and 1,200 receiving yards in three straight seasons – joining Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, Herman Moore, Antonio Brown and Michael Thomas. He’s also the first to do so in each of his first three years with one team and has three 100-yard receiving games with the Bills in the playoffs, joining Reed (five).
· Secondary target notes – last year Knox moved past Jay Riemersma for second in team annals with 21 receiving scores by a tight end. He’s behind only Pete Metzelaars (25) and became the fifth Bill with five or more receiving scores in the playoffs all-time while also catching a touchdown in five straight games (only Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski have had longer streaks among tight ends). Meanwhile, Davis has the second-most receiving touchdowns in team playoff history (six), tying James Lofton. Reed had nine.
· Since 2017 the Bills are 51-7 when leading at halftime and Week Six versus the Giants was the first game in which they were held scoreless through three quarters and won since December 1993 against Philadelphia (it was first time it had happened at home since 1987 – also against the Giants).
· Miller is the first defensive player in league history to sign two contracts worth at least $100 million. He is also vying to be the second player to win a Super Bowl with three different teams (Matt Millen was the first), has moved past Robert Mathis for 19th on the all-time sack list and is two quarterback takedowns away from tying Dwight Freeney for 18th.
· Buffalo’s point differential was plus-169 in 2022 – the second-best in the NFL and second-best in franchise history (2021) – and recorded 5,000 yards of offense for the third time in team history, joining the 1991 and 1975 teams.
· After beating Rodgers, Mahomes and Lamar Jackson in 2022, according to Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports Allen became the first quarterback to defeat three former MVPs in a four-game span since Troy Aikman downed Dan Marino, Young and Brett Favre in 1996. He’s also the first signal caller to beat three former MVPs in one month since David Woodley in September 1981.
· The Bills have compiled a road winning percentage of .66 (24-12) since 2019. Buffalo is also 12-1 at home in December and beyond in their last 13 games.
· The Bills rushed for 100 yards in every game but one last year. They clinched a playoff berth for the fourth straight year, which tied the second-longest streak in franchise history (1963-66, six years from 1988-93 is the longest) and was the fifth time McDermott clinched a playoff berth, trailing just Marv Levy (eight) for the most. Buffalo also won a third straight AFC East title, which is their longest streak since 1988-91.
· McDermott’s record against the AFC East since 2017 is 24-15 – a winning percentage of .615. He also became the 11th coach all-time to make the playoffs five times in his first six years – joining Andy Reid (PHI), John Harbaugh (BAL), John Madden (OAK), Mike Holmgren (GB), John Robinson (LAR), Paul Brown (CLE), Dennis Green (MIN), Chuck Knox (LAR), George Seifert (49ers) and Bill Cowher (PIT).
· Buffalo hasn’t won a road playoff game since the 1992 AFC title game in Miami – they’re 0-7 since.
· Buffalo’s regular season record over the last three years with Allen is 42-16, and he’s 57-29 all-time as a Bill.
· Since 2020 the Bills’ record coming off a loss is 12-3 and in Allen’s career they’re 21-5 after a loss – the best such record in the Super Bowl era.
· McDermott is the third coach in Bills history to appear in 100 games with the franchise along with Levy and Lou Saban.
· Since 2020 Buffalo has the best home record in the NFL – 28-7 including playoffs.
· Allen’s career record in primetime is 14-5 and he and McDermott are 5-1 on Sunday Night Football. They’re also 6-1 on Thursdays, but just 3-3 on Monday Night Football.
· Meanwhile Denver has lost seven straight games on Monday Night Football, the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind the New York Giants. They’ve also lost to three of their former head coaches this season (Fangio, Hackett and Josh McDaniels), an ex-defensive coordinator in Jack Del Rio and their one-time ball boy in Mike McDaniel.
· Buffalo hasn’t lost back-to-back games since two straight defeats to the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings last November. That Vikings loss was also the last time they’ve lost in Highmark Stadium in the regular season.
· Buffalo and Denver haven’t played in primetime since a Saturday night game in December 2005 and not on a Monday night since September 1994.
· Kincaid became the third tight end in Bills history with a 10-reception game, joining Metzelaars (who did so twice in 1993) and Keith McKeller in 1991.