After an 0-3 start, the Buffalo Bills pulled off an astonishing turnaround in the second half of the season, and ended up making the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
The single game milestone struck most by the Bills in the playoffs will be their remarkable comeback against the New England Patriots. From a 25-point deficit at halftime, the Bills won their first home playoff game since Bill Polian drafted Doug Flutie in 1991. That game was played in New England, and it shows Buffalo’s November win in Buffalo will play a huge role in their playoff drive.
The Bills will try to duplicate that win in the wildcard round on Saturday. They’ll face the Indianapolis Colts, the team they beat in their most recent regular season game. While it wasn’t as miraculous as last year’s turnaround, Buffalo’s run of strength and consistency during December allowed them to break the Green Bay Packers’ and New Orleans Saints’ run of 1-2 playoff seasons for the first time since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
Going into their last two games, they had been projected to finish at the bottom of the division, but they clinched that title last week. That means first place was in the hands of them on the final game of the regular season, and they took advantage by going into Orchard Park and knocking off the Bills and their playoff dreams.
Buffalo finished the season with a 8-8 record, going 3-2 in the final 4 games. The Bills have little margin for error in order to survive in the playoffs, and with the Colts sitting at 9-6 with two weeks left in the season, the Bills could have an advantage.
Coach Sean McDermott, who took over in midseason after the dismissal of former head coach Rex Ryan, has led the team to their first winning season since the 2006 season. McDermott will be heading into his first playoff game, which is a dream job for a coach that is going to require another gutsy season in 2020 to continue building his team.
Jairus Byrd played with McDermott when the two were with the Carolina Panthers. Byrd told Patriots Wire that McDermott’s leadership qualities are already very obvious, and they’ve elevated him into a much more important position than he ever thought he’d be in before the season.
“I think it’s amazing,” Byrd said. “You can see him doing the coaching, you can see the passion for the game. He’s just coming along. You can see what type of coach he is going to be. I feel like his leadership is something else. All this stuff that’s happening right now, he’s just leading guys and putting guys in the right place.”
McDermott took over a team that was dead last in the NFL in total defense after last season, and he has taken them right to the top. The Colts will be able to be prepared for the Bills up front, and that will make them look like the team to beat. Having Reggie Ragland, the only Buffalo starter who played every game this season, will be a huge help as well.