Prepared yourself, because I’m not about to tell you something you don’t “already shnow.” But it bears repeating, and deserves a few dedicated moments of your time.
The Buffalo Bills finished the regular season 13-3, playing one game less than all other teams besides the Cincinnati Bengals. Thirteen wins is a lot for an NFL team in any season or era. And those three losses? I mentioned it earlier this week, but again, here, with more oomph: Three losses by a total of eight points.
The Bills’ 2022 season marks the third-straight time the team has won the AFC East, and represents the fourth year in a row where Buffalo notched 10 or more wins. The last time the franchise won 10 or more games four years in a row was also the last time the Bills appeared in the Super Bowl — four consecutive times. (Go ahead, click and digest that link a bit if you like numbers.)
The above’s all to say that what general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have built is special. They represent the core of a front office and coaching staff that’s seen an extraordinary turnaround following a tumultous 17 years without playoffs, and enough personnel change to start a real-life Bills edition of Lemmings.
Yet somehow, apparently, none of what’s happened to bring these Bills to where they are today is enough to sway 16% of voters in our most recent poll.
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to fall in love with this team. They’re not perfect, and the regular season was ugly at times — catastrophic, sombering, and frightening at others. But through all of it, every last reason where anyone would understand the team allowing the season to pass them by, these Bills stood tall.
With such lofty expectations set upon them by the greater media and NFL analysts, there was nowhere to go but down in the eyes of many. Yet here they are, holding the No. 2 seed after the dust settled. While the goal for many was the conference’s top seed, that seemed an afterthought once attention turned to what happened on that field to Damar Hamlin.
Week 18 became a chance for everyone to honor Hamlin, and the Bills did just that in defeating the New England Patriots. That win knocked New England out and welcomed the Miami Dolphins to the playoffs. Now, those Dolphins are headed for Orchard Park, NY this weekend to thank Buffalo for the opportunity. And thanks to the leadership of McDermott, the Bills will be ready for their guests.
If you continue to doubt McDermott, tackle Dion Dawkins might offer you some clarity about his ability to lead this team anywhere, anytime, while enduring any situation:
“But McDermott stepped up, man, he did. He got in front of the team, and he said we’re not playing, period. He said no matter what the outcome is, we’re not playing. And that might not sound like a lot, but it’s a lot. Because right then, that’s permission to be a person. Not a player — a person. Trust me there’s a difference.”
So to the 16% of fans who voted against the direction of the team: Fear not, there’s still time to circle the wagons. But don’t delay too much longer, as destiny awaits. Just ask Nyheim Hines about that idea, if you have any doubt. For this season, the Bills are America’s Team — united by a common goal to honor their brother, and breathe new life into the legacy of New York’s greatest NFL franchise.
Buckle up. It might be crazy.
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