To date, there have been 57 Super Bowls, but none have been won by the Buffalo Bills. In fact, it’s been 30 years since the Bills last played in a Super Bowl. It was the 1993 season when the Bills suffered their last of four consecutive Super Bowl defeats. Over the last three decades, the hunger from the fanbase for a Super Bowl win has only grown in fervor. Optimistic fans use NY sportsbooks to place bets on the Bills winning it all while pessimistic fans prepare for the annual letdown. Either way, the Bills and their devoted fans want a Super Bowl. Could the 2023 season finally be the year that Buffalo’s Super Bowl drought ends?
Buffalo’s fortunes turned around when Sean McDermott became the head coach in 2017. In his first season at the helm, he took the Bills to the playoffs, snapping a long postseason drought that dated back to 1999 when Buffalo suffered a painful playoff loss in a game known as the Music City Miracle. While the Bills lost their playoff game in 2017 and suffered another first-round loss in 2019, McDermott made reaching the Super Bowl a realistic possibility for the Bills.
Things got serious for the Bills in 2020 when quarterback Josh Allen enjoyed a breakout season and his first Pro Bowl selection. With a 27-24 victory over the Colts, the Bills hosted a playoff game for the first time since 1996 and won a playoff game for the first time since the 1995 season. Unfortunately, that season ended with a 38-24 loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship. It was deja vu for Buffalo the following year, as the Bills suffered arguably their most painful playoff loss of McDermott’s tenure, losing 42-26 to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round despite taking the lead with 13 seconds left in regulation.
In 2022, the Bills discovered a new nemesis in the form of the Bengals. Despite hosting Cincinnati in the Divisional Round, the Bills endured a 27-10 loss. Even with three straight AFC East titles on their resume, McDermott and the Bills continue to fall short in the playoffs at the hands of the Chiefs and Bengals, two teams that have combined to represent the AFC in four straight Super Bowls.
Why will this year be different? Well, the reasons for optimism begin with Allen. He’s one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks and is surely in the prime of his career right now. Allen’s combination of arm strength and athleticism that few quarterbacks can match. He’s even taken a step forward with his accuracy during the 2023 season and also possesses the experience to not be fazed in big games and big moments.
The supporting cast around Allen on the Buffalo offense is as good as it’s been in recent years. In addition to the great wide receiver tandem of Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, the Bills have gotten contributions from rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid and young receiver Khalil Shakir. Running back James Cook is also enjoying a breakout season in his second year in the league. He’s quickly becoming one of the top dual-threat running backs in the league, adding to an already dynamic offense.
Meanwhile, the Bills rank among the top NFL teams in points allowed. Over their first eight games of the season, Buffalo conceded an average of 17 points per game. Five of those eight opponents were limited to 20 points or less against the Bills. That includes the Dolphins, who lead the NFL in points and are Buffalo’s biggest competitor in the AFC East. With Allen leading the offense and the Bills having a top-5 defense, the main ingredients are there for the Bills to win the Super Bowl.
Of course, there are reasons why this year might not be Buffalo’s year. The biggest reason is on the injury front. Players missing due to injury hindered Buffalo’s postseason run last season and could do the same this year. Star cornerback Tre’Davious White has already suffered a season-ending injury. Linebacker Matt Milano, the heartbeat of the defense, is on injured reserve and questionable to return to the lineup this season. Defensive tackle DeQuan Jones is also on IR, headlining a series of injuries suffered by members of the Buffalo defensive line.
On the other side of the ball, Buffalo’s offensive line has been a concern all season. While that unit has performed better than expected, there are questions about its depth. Experience is also a question mark with rookie O’Cyrus Torrence starting at right guard and third-year player Spencer Brown starting at right tackle. With Allen playing through a shoulder injury, the Bills can’t afford their offensive line to become a liability.
Another reason why this might not be Buffalo’s year is the heavy competition the Bills are facing in the AFC on their path to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs remain the team to beat behind reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Bengals also look like a bonafide contender after another sluggish start to their season. While those two teams have gotten in Buffalo’s way in the past, they aren’t the only two teams that could prevent the Bills from reaching the Super Bowl.
The Dolphins, Ravens, and Jaguars have all matched Kansas City’s 6-2 start over the first eight weeks of the season. All three teams look like they will be a tough out in the playoffs, making the field in the AFC even deeper than it’s been in past years. Keep in mind that if the Bills can’t overtake the Dolphins for the top spot in the AFC East, the road Buffalo will have to take to reach the Super Bowl will be far more difficult because it will likely require the Bills to win three games on the road.
All things considered, the Bills are certainly a contender to get to the Super Bowl this season. They are easily one of the 10 best teams in the NFL and more than capable of breaking their Super Bowl drought. However, it won’t be easy and Buffalo fans may want to prepare themselves for another heartbreak, just in case.
The good news is that Buffalo’s window to win a championship will be far from closed after the 2023 season. As long as Allen is the team’s quarterback, the Bills figure to have a chance at getting to the Super Bowl. While the team around him may need to be rebuilt to some extent from year to year, Allen provides the type of foundation that will make the Bills a championship contender for many years to come. As long as he’s around, the Bills have a chance and Buffalo fans can remain hungry.