The Buffalo Bills capped the 2021 season by claiming their second consecutive AFC East divisional title, routed their rivals, the New England Patriots at home in the Wild Card round and had the Kansas City Chiefs on the ropes in the Divisional round until...well, you know the rest.
But while the Bills certainly had their fair share of highlights from the 2021 season, one of the biggest came down to the overall health of the team.
Despite the NFL expanding the regular season from 16 to 17 games, the Bills were the league’s second-healthiest team last year—at least according to fewest games missed by their starters.
In a comprehensive study conducted by the Buffalo News, Buffalo’s starters missed only 36 games during the 2021 season because of injury, trailing only those Patriots (23 games missed).
In discussing their findings, the study did not “count backup players who miss games. However, the totals do count any cases in which a backup assumes a starting position due to an injury and then misses a game or more to injury.”
The study “did not count starting players who were injured in the offseason, never played in preseason and were out for the season opener. Clear-cut starters who were injured during training camp or preseason were counted.”
Of course the biggest injury for the Bills occurred Thanksgiving Night, when Pro Bowl cornerback Tre’Davious White was lost for the final six regular-season games and both of Buffalo’s postseason games because of torn knee ligaments suffered in a non-contact injury.
That injury, according to general manager Brandon Beane, is one of the reasons why the team advocated for playing on a natural grass surface when their new stadium opens in 2026.
“Tre’Davious’ injury probably would have been prevented, according to our docs, on grass,” Beane told the Buffalo News. “Now we still have to go play games that are not on grass. But that’s why we try to practice as much as we can on grass.”
This trend of having extremely healthy and durable players is part of a prolonged trend under head coach Sean McDermott. According to the Buffalo News, the Bills have ranked in the top ten every year under McDermott: 2017 (ninth-healthiest); 2018 (fourth); 2019 (first); 2020 (fifth); and 2021 (second).
The Detroit Lions were the most injury-prone team last year, missing 134 games by starters.
Bills fans have to hope that string of health and good luck continues for the foreseeable future.