ORCHARD PARK, NY – Going into Week 18, all the Buffalo Bills needed to clinch a second straight AFC East title was a 4-12 win against the New York Jets. Even though the Jets kept things tight at times thanks to Buffalo’s offensive struggles, the Bills did the job with a 27-10 victory to win the division at home for the first time since 1995.
The consecutive division titles are a first for the franchise, having won four in a row between 1988 and 1991. The Bills will enter the AFC playoffs as the third seed and host a playoff game in the next round of wild cards. week. Buffalo is 2-0 in home playoff games under coach Sean McDermott, who has led Buffalo to the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.
The Bills reach the playoffs on a four-game winning streak, tying their season-best record.
With the New England Patriots ’27-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Bills’ opponent has yet to be determined. If the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night, the Chargers will play the Bills. A victory for the Raiders would mean that Buffalo and New England would meet for the third time this season and for the first time in the playoffs in the Super Bowl era.
The Bills got off to a good start against the Jets, putting together a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an impressive 10-yard touchdown pass from QB Josh Allen to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, despite Allen being under a significant pressure.
The pitch was Allen’s twelfth career touchdown of the season (traveling over 8 mph), the most in the NFL this season, based on next-generation stats, and had an 18% chance of completion, the lowest probability of completion in a Bills. landing since 2017.
After back-to-back scoring drives in the first quarter, the Bills’ offense struggled. There were communication errors between Allen and his receivers, and the unit appeared out of sync. The special equipment unit also hesitated. Kicker Matt Haack averaged 33.9 yards per punt on seven kicks, though one only traveled 7 yards, in part due to a poor cross.
But the defense kept the Bills in the game, sacking rookie quarterback Zach Wilson eight times (mostly with McDermott) and allowing the Jets to convert just one of 12 third downs. Buffalo has had at least five sacks in straight games, which hasn’t happened since 2014 (three straight games), and the Bills’ eight sacks are the most in a game since 2011.
While there will be a lot to clean up for the playoffs, there are some positives for Buffalo after the win.
Not only is the Bills ‘passing run in better shape heading into the postseason, but their rushing attack has improved, in part thanks to the improved play of the Bills’ offensive line. Running back Devin Singletary became the first Bills player to record four straight games with at least one rushing touchdown since Fred Jackson (2011), according to ESPN Stats & Information. Singletary has five rushing touchdowns in his last four games after scoring six rushing touchdowns in the first 41 games of his career.
Allen has also stayed upright, going three games in a row without a sack, the first time in his career.
But the Bills’ goals go far beyond making a postseason appearance and winning the division. The great test is yet to come.