clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Buffalo Bills lead the league in point differential

Raise your hand if you had that one in your list of predictions.

When the Bills begin play on Sunday, they will do so as the league’s best team in terms of overall point differential. I say “overall” because the Vikings and Eagles take the nod on a per-game basis due to the fact that they’ve played fewer games (at least they do according to Pro-Football Reference).

At +59 points, the Bills are outscoring their opponents by an average of approximately 10 points per game, buoyed by four consecutive double-digit victories. The four wins followed two close losses. If the Bills were to keep up their current pace, where would they end up in terms of overall scoring and point differential? Well, the short answer is that they’d end up in a situation that they haven’t experienced in a long time.

The Bills are currently averaging 27 points per game (162 total). If they kept that pace, they would end the year with 432 points. The team has only topped 400 points six times in its history, and has not done so since 1991, when Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas led the Bills to 458 points en route to their second-consecutive Super Bowl berth. Thus, the Bills’ current 432 point pace would put the 2016 vintage second all-time in franchise history in terms of scoring.

The defense is doing its part, as well. The team is currently allowing 17.2 points per game (103 total). If that pace continues, Buffalo will allow 275 points overall. For the last time the Bills allowed fewer than 300 points, we only need to look back to 2014, as the Jim Schwarz defense allowed 289 points on the season. The team has given up 300 or less on 21 separate occasions, so this has been a far more common occurrence. 275 points would be good for 8th in franchise history, with the best season in terms of points allowed coming in 1988 (237 in 16 games, or 14.8/game; yes, they allowed 230 in 1973, but that was in only 14 games, good for 16.8/game).

This pace means that the Bills are on pace to be +157 in terms of points allowed, which would be the third-best season in franchise history. The only two better came in 1990 (+165) and 1964 (+158); both seasons ended with the Bills playing for a championship.

Not only are the Bills tops in the league in point differential, but they currently sit in the top five in both points per game (4th) and points allowed per game (5th). The Bills have never been top-five in both categories; the closest they came was in 1990, when they finished 1st in points per game and 6th in points allowed per game. They have been top-five in scoring 5 times in franchise history (1992 is the last time), and top-five in points allowed 6 times (2014 is the last time) since the AFL-NFL merger. The Bills have had eight top-ten finishes in points scored (the last coming in 2004) and twelve appearances in the top-ten in points allowed (with 2014 again being the last). They’ve only finished in the top ten in both categories three times: 2004, 1993, and 1990.

In terms of point differential, the Bills have finished in the top-ten in the league eleven times, with the last coming in 2004. They’ve been in the top-five on six separate occasions: 1988-1991, 1993, and 1999. They’ve only led the league in this category once: 1990.

In short, Buffalo’s pace bodes well for future success and could be a sign of great things ahead for this year’s squad.

All statistics courtesy of