Bills projected to miss playoffs in egregious NFL record predictions

One outlet has projected the Buffalo Bills to miss out on the 2024 NFL postseason for some rather odd reasons.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen walks off the field after throwing an interception late in the
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen walks off the field after throwing an interception late in the / Tina MacIntyre-Yee /Rochester Democrat

The 2024 NFL schedule release has ushered in a flood of new discourse and record predictions, some of which have been kinder to the Buffalo Bills than others.

The Bills are coming off their fifth consecutive playoff appearance and fourth in which they’ve won at least one game; the end result, however, was familiar heartbreak, a 27-24 AFC Divisional Round loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The early exit prompted Buffalo to reshape its roster in the 2024 offseason, moving on from stalwart starters like Stefon Diggs, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Tre’Davious White, Mitch Morse, and Gabriel Davis while re-centering the roster around younger players who can theoretically extend the team’s championship window.

And some, justifiably, expect the Bills to take a step back in the 2024 campaign given the significant turnover. Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton is a member of this camp; in a recent article predicting win-loss records for each NFL team in the upcoming season, Moton projected Buffalo to finish 9-8, with quarterback Josh Allen struggling in the absence of Diggs and the defense struggling to adjust following the departures of several starters.

Related: ESPN questions Josh Allen's status as an 'elite quarterback' without Stefon Diggs

“Before Buffalo acquired Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings in 2020, quarterback Josh Allen completed less than 57 percent of his passes and threw for only 5,163 yards, 30 touchdowns and 21 interceptions across the 2018 and 2019 seasons,” Moton wrote. “With Diggs, Allen performed at a Pro Bowl level, racking up at least 4,283 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes in all four of their seasons together. Buffalo used a second-round pick on Florida State wideout Keon Coleman to fill the void in their pass-catching group. But in his first year, he may not be able to elevate the passing attack like Diggs did when he arrived in Buffalo. Wide receiver Khalil Shakur and tight ends Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox will likely see more targets from Allen. However, the Bills' aerial attack could experience some rough patches during a transition period.

“The Bills could fall out of the playoff picture in the AFC as Allen adjusts to the offense without Diggs and the defense relies on role players to be more productive in bigger roles.”

Moton also mentions the fact that the NFL’s active all-time sack leader Von Miller is entering his age-35 season and that linebacker Matt Milano could struggle in his return from “a torn ACL and a fractured leg” (This is only partially true—Milano did fracture his right tibia last season but, according to The Buffalo News, did not suffer “damage to any knee ligaments;” ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament).

While it’s true that Diggs certainly helped Allen ascend from a glorified game-manager into a game-wrecking quarterback, he’s not the reason for it. Allen is the main reason for his ascension, his emergence as one of the best signal-callers in the league a testament to the general maturation he’s undergone throughout his career and the fundamental re-work of his mechanics that saw him become a much more refined passer. Yes, it’s true that Allen wasn’t great before the arrival of Diggs, but that was five years ago. It’s simply ignorant to believe that the quarterback is going to devolve into the player he was half a decade ago in the absence of a single receiver regardless of how impactful and talented said receiver was.

Related: Bills still ranked among NFL's elite offenses despite offseason moves

That said, Moton’s concerns about Buffalo’s aerial attack aren’t necessarily unfounded, as the team is set to rely primarily on young and unproven players. I wouldn’t count on Khalil Shakur to be too productive, however, seeing as he doesn’t exist. Khalil Shakir, on the other hand, could play a significant role in the team’s receiving corps; he’s looked promising in spot duty in years past.

Moton’s qualms with the defense are a bit less substantiated; Miller, yes, is set to be 35, but he’s a rotational pass rusher at this point—why are we complaining about the third defensive end on the depth chart? Milano, sure, could theoretically struggle in his return from injury, but history would suggest that he’ll make a full (and swift) recovery. While the team did move on from players like Hyde, Poyer, and White in the offseason, those players have missed significant time due to injury in recent years, with the team, in the case of White, already replacing them; the Buffalo defense, as a whole, returns nine starters.

It’s certainly possible that the Bills could finish barely above .500 and miss out on the playoffs in the upcoming season, but that seems like a fairly pessimistic and rash projection based on every single worst-case scenario manifesting. Games, fortunately, are not played on paper and are instead played on the field; we’ll see the true quality of Buffalo’s roster when they take said field in September.

Kyle Silagyi