The Buffalo Bills only won six games in 2018, dealing with injuries and a fluctuating quarterback room. While some believed the best college football teams in the country could top the Bills, we knew better. In fact, Buffalo surprised several fan bases this year.
Every week during the regular season, fans around SB Nation’s collection of NFL teams would vote in our fan confidence index called FanPulse. The Bills crushed opponents’ confidence by beating them. None was as stark as after Buffalo’s first win of the season.
Minnesota Vikings fans came in riding high. A solid finish to 2017 and a 1-0-1 record heading into a home game against a rookie quarterback making his first career road start led them to a 92% fan confidence rating. Then the Bills pass rush ruined their week and Buffalo’s offense did just enough. The Bills rolled to a 27-6 victory, and Vikings fans crashed to earth with a 35% FanPulse rating, a drop of 57%.
A few weeks later, the 3-1 Tennessee Titans came to New Era Field. Three turnovers later, Buffalo came out on top. Still atop the AFC South, Titans fans were shaken but not despondent. They went from 94% FanPulse rating to 70%, a drop of 24%.
Buffalo reeled off four straight losses after that, losing Josh Allen to injury and adding Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley. It wasn’t until Nathan Peterman was benched for Barkley that Buffalo would snag another victory, blowing out the New York Jets.
Jet fans were already morose, rating their favorite team at an 11% in confidence heading into the Week 10 tilt. Barkley was bombs away, throwing all over the team in Jersey, who was also starting the backup QB. A huge 41-10 throttling led many to think head coach Todd Bowles might be fired, and New York fans fell from 11% to a 3% confidence level. They would fall another point over their bye week, as well. No Darnold, who was dealing with an injury, and in the middle of a six-game skid, it took a win in Week 14 to bring them back into double digits.
The Jacksonville Jaguars came into 2018 with a lot of confidence, having played in the AFC Championship game in January. Their 99% confidence rating gave way after the first month of the season and they entered the game against Buffalo struggling in the standings and with fans. A Bills win over Jacksonville dropped FanPulse confidence from 1% to 1%. Not a typo. They never got back above 10%.
The Detroit Lions were all over the place in 2018, as high as 86% and as low as 6%. When they faced the Bills, they were at 40% fan confidence, but fell to 23% after a narrow 14-13 Buffalo win.
The final Bills win of the season didn’t dampen the spirits of Miami Dolphins fans. Miami’s FanPulse ranking actually went up, from 24% to 31% following the final game of the season. It’s no coincidence it aligns with the team’s firing of head coach Adam Gase and a new off-season direction for the team from South Beach.