You don't need any fancy charts or tables to know that the Buffalo Bills have been one of the worst-performing teams in divisional contest over the past few years. I set out to find out if they were the absolute worst, and wound up doing so in an interesting, if not wholly scientific fashion.
If you ask me, the answer is no, the Bills are not the worst team in the NFL when it comes to playing divisional opponents. They are, however, the least competitive NFL team in such contests, in my view.
I wanted to take a two-year sample size for this study because that's how long Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey have been in town. Believe me, I understand that the Bills have been putrid in AFC East games for much longer than two years; feel free to take this study back another two or three years if you've got the time.
There's no better indicator of how good a team is than wins and losses, and within the past two years, two teams have a worse divisional record (DR) than the Bills. Ergo, the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings are decidedly worse than the Bills in divisional contests, no matter which way you cut it.
But how competitive were the handful of teams that perform terribly in divisional contests? In order to figure that out, I brought in an approximate scoring margin (ASM) for the 12 divisional games in the study. Wham: the Bills were blown out by an average of 14 points per game in AFC East games, a figure that places them alone as the least competitive intra-divisional team in the NFL. That's just my opinion, of course, and the data doesn't completely remove subjectivity.
Finally, I figured I'd chart out every NFL team over the past two years in this category, and needed a third tie-breaker when teams with the same divisional record have the same approximate scoring margin. Thus, I brought non-divisional record (NDR) into the equation. Teams that are crappy out of the division should be crappy in it, right? Therefore, I ranked poor teams ahead of good teams when we got to the third tie-breaker. Again, that's completely subjective, but it makes for some interesting results.
We're guessing that readers may be surprised at the placement of a few teams on this list, most prominently the Eagles, Raiders and Giants. But getting back to the Bills: I'll offer a public apology here for quantifying just how terrible our favorite team is against the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins. I do, however, have one more stat for you: the Bills are the only NFL team that has surrendered an average of over 30 points per game in divisional contests over the last two years. Enjoy dinner!
|1||New England Patriots||10-2||+16||17-3|
|2||Green Bay Packers||10-2||+9||15-5|
|5||New Orleans Saints||9-3||+9||15-5|
|6||San Francisco 49ers||9-3||+8||10-10|
|13||New York Jets||7-5||+3||12-8|
|14||San Diego Chargers||6-6||+3||11-9|
|15||New York Giants||6-6||+2||13-7|
|20||Kansas City Chiefs||5-7||-3||12-8|
|23||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||5-7||-6||9-11|
|28||St. Louis Rams||3-9||-4||6-14|