The Buffalo Bills finished the 2017 NFL season with a -57 point differential, good for last among all twelve qualifiers for the 2017 NFL Playoffs. Theoretically, this means that the Bills are the most likely team to be eliminated during Wild Card weekend.
If history is any indication, however, that point is not the case.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Bills are the seventh team to make the NFL Playoffs after recording a regular season point differential in the red. Of the previous six playoff teams to accomplish the feat, those teams all won their first playoff game.
The Bills are the seventh NFL team to make the playoffs with a point differential of minus-50 or worse. All six previous teams won their first playoff game. pic.twitter.com/z29atg0igV— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 1, 2018
If point differential is your go-to statistic, the 2017 Bills are the fifth-worst playoff team of all time. The “worst” teams on this list each won recently, with the 2010 Seattle Seahawks entering the playoffs as a 7-9 division winner. They defeated the New Orleans Saints in a game best remembered for Marshawn Lynch’s incredible run, which brought his “Beast Mode” moniker to national prominence. The 2011 Denver Broncos snuck into the playoffs at 8-8, then traveled to Heinz Field and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-23 in overtime. In that playoff game, Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards, ran for 50 more, and combined for 3 touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing), including an 80-yard bomb to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime.
While the numbers may suggest that the Bills are in for a long day on Sunday, history shows that just because a team finished its regular season with a negative point differential, it doesn’t necessarily mean that team will lose its first playoff game. Hopefully, history repeats itself when the Bills take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.