While the media raves about the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills have been overlooked as Super Bowl contenders. Without a doubt, Sean McDermott is content with being the underdogs in the AFC.
Just two years ago, McDermott was able to lead Buffalo to a 9-7 record and to the playoffs in his first season as head coach. It was the first time that the Bills had played in the postseason since the 1999 season.
Now, this year, the Bills already have nine wins and are perfectly positioned to play beyond December for the second time under McDermott. As a matter of fact, Buffalo actually has a chance to win the AFC East still.
However, the Bills will have to face the Ravens, Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers in the next three weeks. Regardless of how the season ends, Buffalo undoubtedly has their sights set on making an unforeseen playoff push.
Provided that, here are the four keys to a potential Super Bowl run for the Bills this season.
4. The defense has to improve against the run
One of the most overlooked aspects of this season is just how good the Bills’ defense has been. As good as they’ve been though, it’s apparent that the weakness of the defense is their ability to stop the run.
Through the first 13 weeks, Buffalo has the third-best pass defense in the NFL. At the same time, the run defense of the Bills has given up 104.3 rushing yards per game (14th in the NFL).
In Week 14, Buffalo’s run defense will be tested as they face the Ravens’ No. 1. rushing attack. Following that game, we’ll get a better understanding of how good the Bills’ run defense can be in the playoffs.
3. Staying healthy
For every team that is hoping to win the Super Bowl in 2019, health is the most important factor. So far this year, Buffalo has been fortunate enough to avoid injuries to their crucial players.
Earlier in the season though, Allen suffered a concussion against the Patriots after taking a nasty hit from a defender. Luckily, the second-year quarterback was able to clear the concussion protocol and play in the team’s next game.
If Buffalo hopes to surprise people by making an appearance in Miami for Super Bowl 54, they’ll need to remain healthy down the final stretch of the regular season.
2. The Bills have to continue running the ball effectively
The Bills have done a phenomenal job in 2019 getting their running game going early and often. Currently, Buffalo has the fifth-best rushing offense that averages 137.9 rushing yards per game.
With the duo of Devin Singletary and Frank Gore, Buffalo is able to pound the ball and control the time of possession in games. In the Bills’ first 12 games, they’ve been able to average 30 minutes and 52 seconds of possession per game (11th best in the NFL).
Come playoff time, you’ll have to be able to run the ball effectively. That is especially true when it’s likely that Buffalo will have to travel to play in Baltimore or New England in less-than-ideal weather conditions in the playoffs.
1. Josh Allen needs to limit his turnovers
At the beginning of the season, it seemed as if Allen was going to have another season that was hindered by turnovers. In his first five starts in 2019, the Wyoming product had 1,122 yards, five touchdowns, and nine turnovers.
But since Week 7, Allen has cleaned up his turnovers and has done a remarkable job of playing efficiently. Over that span, Allen has combined for 1,469 yards, 11 touchdowns, and only two turnovers.
In the playoffs, the Bills may have to face the Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, or the Kansas City Chiefs. All four of those teams are inside the top 11 in the NFL in terms of takeaways.