The Buffalo Bills have a troubling history of losing streaks in the middle of their season under head coach Sean McDermott. They aren’t just losses, either. They are U-G-L-Y losses in most seasons. From multi-turnover games to being gashed in the running game, the Bills have found multiple ways to stink up the joint for midseason stretches over the last five years.
Here’s a rundown:
2017: Lost four-of-five in November/December
The games you remember from this are the shellacking at the hands of the New Orleans Saints’ run game in a 47-10 blowout and the infamous Nate Peterman five-interception game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Before the loss to the Saints, the Bills allowed 34 points to the New York Jets. They beat the Chiefs on November 26 (16-10) but then lost 23-3 against the New England Patriots. Snowvertime halted the slide. They gave up more than 146 rushing yards in each of the four losses, allowing an average of 207 yards on the ground in the four losses and turning it over 11 times. They had back-to-back 30+-point losses.
2018: Four straight losses in October/November
After a 2-3 start with their rookie quarterback, they scored just 33 points combined from Week 6 to Week 9. In that same time frame, they allowed an average of 30.75 points punctuated by a 41-9 loss to the Chicago Bears. Buffalo allowed 14 turnovers during that stretch, which was the main factor in their skid. Two 32-point losses in the streak.
2019: Two losses in three games in October/November
This is by far the best season in terms of mid-year collapse for Sean McDermott. They lost 31-13 to the Philadelphia Eagles on October 27, allowing 218 yards on the ground. Two weeks later, they lost to the Cleveland Browns 19-16, allowing 368 total yards. Prior to the loss to Philly, they allowed 381 yards to the Miami Dolphins, but Buffalo won the game thanks to two turnovers.
2020: Two straight losses in October
Buffalo lost an ugly, ugly game to the Tennessee Titans on October 13. They outgained the Titans 370 to 334 but lost 42-16 thanks to three turnovers. The following week they were rolled by the Kansas City Chiefs, 26-17, in a game that wasn’t that close. Against the Chiefs, they allowed 245 rushing yards on the ground. Two weeks later, they barely edged the Patriots after giving up 188 yard on the ground.
2021: Losing three games from mid-October to mid-November
We hope it’s just three games in this five-game skid, right? They gave up 362 yards of offense to the Tennessee Titans on October 18 and 370 to the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday, including 264 on the ground. Three turnovers against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars was enough to gift the Jags a rare win, and the Bills lost to three AFC South squads in five weeks. A 26-point loss was the worst defeat since their huge loss to Tennessee the previous October.
The good news is that the Bills tend to get it together and keep it together following their skids. In 2017, they went 3-1 down the stretch. In 2018, it was two wins and 65 points scored in those two contests even though they were out of the hunt. In 2019, three straight wins including a Thanksgiving wallop of the Dallas Cowboys got the Bills to nine wins on the season, and their tenth eventually got them into the postseason. In 2020, the only loss they had the rest of the way was on the Hail Mary pass to DeAndre Hopkins.
They’ve shown the ability to change within the season to correct deficiencies, and that will be the ultimate test during their mini-bye week following the game this Thursday. They have 11 days between Thanksgiving night and Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots at home in what is shaping up to be a must-win game.