The Buffalo Bills are currently in second place in the AFC East. While they have yet to catch up to the division-leading New England Patriots, they’ve put together a solid season so far. The Bills have battled futility with sporadic playoff appearances sprinkled in over the last 20-25 seasons, but they may be onto something this year. Their young quarterback, avid golfer Josh Allen, is showing marked improvement in his second season. What adjustment has Allen and the team made to help bring them from being an average team to potential Super Bowl contenders?
(All stats and results valid as of NFL games played before December 13, 2019).
The Buffalo Bills 2019 season overview so far
- Win-loss record of 9-4
- 274 points scored (20th in the NFL)
- 212 points allowed (2nd in the NFL)
Their most impressive victory was probably a 26-15 upset of the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. They couldn’t topple the Patriots in a Week 4 showdown, losing 16-10. But their penultimate game of the season comes against New England, and you can rest assured it will be an important one with major implications — if not for the division title, then for AFC playoff positioning.
Josh Allen isn’t the Bills’ only strength
Ask any follower of the NFL what this current iteration of the Bills is best at, and the answer would come quickly: defense. Here’s where their defense ranks in some major statistical categories this season:
- Yards allowed — third
- First downs allowed — sixth
- Passing yards — third
- Passing touchdowns — second
- Yards allowed on an average drive — third
Of course, that should come as no surprise. The Bills had a great defense coming into this season. After the Bills lost to the Patriots, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell detailed exactly how effective their defense can be:
“The Bills also have the sort of defense that will help them steal more competitive games too. They nearly took one from the Patriots, given that the margin of victory was a blocked punt the Pats returned for a touchdown. The Bills rank second in the league behind the Patriots in points allowed per drive (0.92), percentage of drives ending in a score (15%), and yards allowed per pass attempt (5.5).”
The defense is elite, but what can the offense do to improve and make the Bills into true contenders? They may have already done it.
One key change that could make the Bills Super Bowl contenders
One of the most important components of an NFL team’s offense is its ability to dictate the tempo of the game. By playing the game at a pace that keeps the offense comfortable and the defense on its heels, they hold a slight advantage in being able to execute plays and move the ball downfield. One way to do that is by running a no-huddle offense, which Josh Allen the Bills have started doing this season:
“One of the differences between those games and the first nine contests has been the amount of no-huddle offense that the team has been playing … ‘You can go as fast as you need to go. You can slow it down with the quarterback slowing down to see what he needs to see,’ [offensive coordinator Brian] Daboll said, via New York Upstate. “You can change tempo within the game without huddling. Sometimes that gives us answers before the test, whether Josh can see them down on the field, or I can see them up in the box. You can go quick. You can go slow. It’s been good for us.'”
Josh Allen hasn’t been great so far in his NFL career, but he’s definitely gotten better in Year 2. Running a no-huddle helps him and the Bills’ offense stay ahead of opposing defenses. It’s also hard to run with any kind of consistency, as it requires elite-level conditioning to run over a long period. Luckily for the Bills, Allen is still young and has just that. If the Bills can keep defenses guessing, their already first-rate defense may have an offense that matches them in production.