The Buffalo Bills (9-7) secured the franchise’s first playoff berth since the 1999 season thanks to a 22-16 win over the Miami Dolphins coupled with a 31-27 victory by the Cincinnati Bengals over the Baltimore Ravens.
Buffalo earned the number 6 seed in the AFC, and will travel to number 3-seeded AFC South divisional champion Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) for a 1:05 p.m. Wild Card round clash Sunday at EverBank Field.
The playoffs had eluded the Bills for 17 years until the events of New Year’s Eve propelled the team back into the postseason. As such, the Bills rank near the bottom of the 12 playoff teams in terms of both players who have played in a postseason game, and in the total number of postseason games they’ve played.
Buffalo ranks eighth in the total number of playoff games (79), and is tied for ninth in number of players with playoff experience (18).
“I’d probably say the big thing is not to get caught up in trying to anything more than what they’ve done up to this point,” said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who guided the Minnesota Vikings to a 10-6 record and a Wild Card appearance as head coach in 2012. He also played in five playoff games as a defensive back for the Chicago Bears, including a 46-10 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. “There’s a tendency, sometimes, when you get to the playoffs – and it is in a lot of ways a new season – but you don’t have to reinvent yourself. Some of the things you’ve done really well, continue to build on those; those things you haven’t done as well, you still work to improve on those. I think if you take that approach, you have a chance to stay within yourself and not try to do more than you actually are capable of doing.”
The following Bills have appeared in a playoff game during their careers:
- Lorenzo Alexander (three games with the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals)
- Colt Anderson (five games with the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts)
- Kelvin Benjamin (two games with the Carolina Panthers)
- Patrick DiMarco (three games and one Super Bowl appearance with the Atlanta Falcons)
- Vladimir Ducasse (one game with the New York Jets)
- Stephen Hauschka (14 games with the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks and two Super Bowl appearances with the Seahawks)
- Jerry Hughes (two playoff games with the Colts)
- Ramon Humber (eight games with the Colts and Saints and one Super Bowl appearance with the Colts)
- Micah Hyde (eight games with the Green Bay Packers)
- LeSean McCoy (three games with the Eagles)
- Lafayette Pitts (one game with the Miami Dolphins)
- Brandon Tate (six games with the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals)
- Logan Thomas (one game with the Cardinals)
- Shamarko Thomas (three games with the Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Cedric Thornton (two games with the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys)
- Mike Tolbert (seven games with the San Diego Chargers and Panthers and one Super Bowl appearance with the Panthers)
- Joe Webb (six games with the Minnesota Vikings and Panthers and one Super Bowl appearance with the Panthers)
- Shareece Wright (two games with the Chargers).
According to research conducted by the NFL, the Patriots have the most players with playoff experience (41), and they’ve played in the most playoff games (317) of any playoff team. The Steelers are second (40 players with 207 games of experience).
The Kansas City Chiefs (39 players, 111 games), Falcons (36 players, 174 games), Panthers (35 players, 189 games), Vikings (28 players, 69 games), Eagles (24 players, 74 games), New Orleans Saints (20 players, 91 games), Tennessee Titans (18 players, 82 games), and Los Angeles Rams (six players, 21 games) round out the rest of the playoff teams.
One team that Buffalo is ahead of on the playoff experience scale: Sunday’s opponents, the Jaguars, whose 11 playoff veterans have played in 42 career playoff games.
“We have some guys on the staff that have been to the playoffs, too. I think, generally, you’ve been successful so you need to prepare like you do. Have the excitement of playoffs, have the excitement of getting the chance to extend your season, but still understand you prepare the same way you have all year,” said offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who played in 11 playoff games and three Super Bowls as a linebacker with the Denver Broncos. “You try to keep a level head about that. I think our guys are mature enough in that regard. They’ll prepare and they’ll get ready, but know it’s a thrill and it’s an honor for us to have an extra game.”
It should also be mentioned that Tyrod Taylor has a Super Bowl ring as Joe Flacco’s backup, so he’s been on playoff teams before, just hasn’t played in any playoff games.