How the Bills expect to reach the playoffs is battling for AFC dominance in the coming years

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BUFFALO, NY – Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott had a plan for Wednesday after training.

The Bills have reached the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, with McDermott joining Marv Levy as the only Bills coaches to do so, making the off-season feel like the new norm in Buffalo.

The coach wanted to take some of his younger players aside to remind them how difficult it is to get to this point.

“The critical part of it for us going forward is that we take care of it [the younger] guys don’t take it for granted, ”McDermott said. “Make sure the guys know that, because they’ll eventually become the leaders who then train and influence the younger guys that come in when we go down the road here.”

That training reflects the changing tides that have happened in Buffalo under McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane. It started with the end of an 18-year playoff drought in 2017, which was the longest in North American professional sports. After a fall in 2018, the Bills have rattled three straight 10-plus-win seasons with a list set up to compete in the coming years.

“I would not say it is expected to come in the playoffs, but the standard we are sticking to is the way it is,” said quarterback Josh Allen. “These are the expectations we have for the future. And really, every year, our goal is to get to the playoffs and give ourselves the chance to win the Super Bowl. “

The Bills have a chance on Sunday to win the AFC East title for the second year in a row against the struggling New York Jets (16:25 ET, CBS). Buffalo need a win or a New England Patriots (10-6) loss to the Miami Dolphins (8-8) to establish at least one home playoff game. It would be the first time the Bills have beaten the division in front of a home crowd since 1995. Having at least one home playoff game would be good news as the Bills are 0-3 in road playoff games under McDermott.

“One of our coaches talked earlier about his neighbor, a season ticket holder for 20 years, and it would be the first time he’s ever seen Bill win the AFC. [East] at home, ”said security Jordan Poyer. “We know how special it would be. It’s clear we have to go on one day at a time and put in the work this week to be ready to perform on Sunday.”

The Patriots, led by coach Bill Belichick, ruled the division for many years, winning it all but twice from 2001 to 2019. New England recovered from future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady’s departure before the 2020 season faster than many had expected and came to the playoff spot last week. The teams each won one match in their regular season series, and there is a 33% chance that they will meet again in the wildcard round, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.

The Bills have won three games in a row, but the season has been full of ups and downs, from a big win in Kansas City early in the season to a shocking loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Overall, the team has remained relatively healthy, with only three players going on injured reserve during the season – cornerback Tre’Davious White, defensive tackle Justin Zimmer and offensive lineman Ike Boettger.

Beyond this year, the Bills expect to remain candidates because of the cornerstone players they have signed for long-term deals.

Allen has been a top-six quarterback the past two seasons, giving the team a chance to win every time he steps on the field. He is under contract until 2028, thanks to his six-year extension of $ 258 million. Pro Bowl left tackle Dion Dawkins has played well, especially lately, and is signed until 2024. Linebacker Matt Milano re-signed with Bill’s last offseason, and White, a 2020 Pro Bowl corner, is signed until 2025.

“It’s no secret that we got here, it’s no coincidence that we got to the playoffs,” said cornerback Levi Wallace. “We put in the work, we worked for it. We have great leadership, real guys in big roles and crucial roles, and how we are together. We are a close-knit team and we know what it takes, and especially that experience. , we got last year when we were going to the AFC Championship Game. ”

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