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Could this be the season the Buffalo Bills return to the playoffs?

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It sure feels like it could be.

Buffalo Bills v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I’ll begin this by eating some crow, but just a bit.

Yes, I did previously write that the Buffalo Bills were set up to tank this season, and I still think that was the case, but fortunately for them, the talent of certain players — and good coaching — has helped the Bills overcome some of the things that were intended to help them tank.

But that was the past, presently the first-place Bills are playing stunningly well, and thus, the talk of the team tanking has naturally shifted to that of a possible return to the playoffs — one that has been 17-plus years in the making. It’s early but here’s why the Bills this season could, in fact, possibly break the longest postseason drought of any North American professional sports team.

The Bills have an elite defense

Coming into Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, the Bills were tops in the league in points allowed. The Bills defense played up to its standard Sunday, holding a prolific Falcons offense to a season-low 17 points. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was held under to under 300 yards passing, and neither of Atlanta’s two talented running backs topped 100 yards rushing, respectively. If you hadn’t

If you hadn’t noticed before, the Bills takeaway game was on full display against the Falcons. Buffalo came away with two interceptions and a fumble recovery, the latter of which was returned for a touchdown. The Bills defense has proved that it gives Buffalo a pretty good chance to beat virtually any team in the league.

The coaching of Sean McDermott

From the onset, it was evident that Sean McDermott was quite different than any head coach the Bills have had in quite some time. He brought with him to Buffalo a no-nonsense attitude and winning culture that the Bills players have seemingly gone all in on. McDermott appears to have the Bills playing with a level confidence that has been missing for quite some time.

The team’s remaining schedule

The Bills schedule from here on out is favorable, as they have 12 games remaining against opponents with a combined record of 15-18. Buffalo still has a road date to come against the NFL's only remaining undefeated team, the Kansas City Chiefs, a home game versus the struggling Oakland Raiders, and two divisional showdowns with the surprisingly disappointing New England Patriots, but even with those games on the docket, the Bills could still conceivably go on a nice run.

After 17 long seasons, it seems that the stars of the Bills have finally aligned, all they have to do now is just not blow it like they’ve done time and time again.