The Buffalo Payments are the best what-if franchise in NFL historical past. They’ve repeatedly brushed up towards greatness with out it rubbing off on them. Subsequent month, Buffalo is approaching the thirtieth anniversary of Marv Levy’s Okay-Gun Payments’ fourth Tremendous Bowl loss.
Dropping 4 Tremendous Bowls with out incomes a hoop is barely the tip of the iceberg. Patrick Mahomes has emerged as Buffalo’s new foil. The McDermott-Allen Payments have been on this place earlier than. Coming so shut that they’ll virtually see over the summit.
No one is beneath extra stress main as much as the divisional spherical than Josh Allen and Sean McDermott. Lamar Jackson remains to be looking for his first divisional-round victory, however a contest towards the Houston Texans isn’t as daunting because the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs. In addition to, Jackson is firmly entrenched because the Baltimore Ravens quarterback after receiving a gold-plated contract extension, and John Harbaugh is untouchable.
On Wednesday, Josh Allen with MLK Day metaphors clearly nonetheless on his thoughts mentioned, “They’ve been on the prime of the mountain, they know what it takes to get there.”
Added Allen, “We’ve but to try this. As a competitor, as a participant, to be in a state of affairs like that is one thing that you just dream about.”
Allen is on the verge of reliving Jim Kelly’s nightmare towards the triplets. Besides his darkish spirit is Mahomes. The Chiefs quarterback has repeatedly terrorized the Payments and can hover over Allen’s profession epitaph if he doesn’t defeat Mahomes in a postseason when he’s most susceptible, and advance to the Tremendous Bowl.
The road to beat Mahomes is getting longer by the day. If Allen doesn’t recover from the hump this yr, he’s heading for a tricky spell. CJ Stroud is rising rapidly in Houston, Trevor Lawrence has some pores and skin within the recreation, Joe Burrow shall be returning to Cincy and Kansas Metropolis received’t permit Mahomes to throw at tomato cans for an additional season.
Allen may need some Carson Wentz in him when the climate is heat, however in sub-zero temps, he’s Brett Favre. However no less than Favre received one title out of his period. After a rocky begin to the season, Allen has reshaped the discourse surrounding him. The temperamental Stefon Diggs has cooled off. James Cook dinner has emerged as a workhorse who can carry a few of the load from Allen’s again. Advancing previous the regular-season finale and the wild-card spherical ought to be givens, although. The Payments can’t permit Mahomes to march into their igloo with a win. Something lower than a victory over a wounded Chiefs squad is tantamount to a dereliction of responsibility.
McDermott however, has a bit extra rehabilitation to do. Not solely did a report from Tyler Dunne depict him as a bumbling nincompoop with weird, however benign motivational talking ways, he may even obtain the majority of the blame if he falls quick towards Andy Reid once more.
Quick-term reminiscence has allowed McDermott and the Payments’ entrance workplace to reminiscence gap the primary half of this season. Another group can be holding his ft to the hearth. Nevertheless, in early December, sources told The Athletic that there was a “zero % probability” Terry Pegula would hearth McDermott. Buffalo is strapping themselves to a coach who was one win away from lacking the postseason fully. Within the final month of the season, Buffalo walked a tightrope with a lot aplomb they prevented lacking out on the postseason and as a substitute earned the AFC’s No. 2 seed.
McDermott assumed management over play calling within the offseason. Previous to accepting the Payments job, McDermott was recognized for his aggressive blitzing schemes because the Carolina Panthers’ defensive architect. Because the backstop for a Cam Newton-directed offense en path to Tremendous Bowl 50, Buffalo scooped him up. Nevertheless, he hasn’t replicated the ferocity of his 2015 protection but.
This season, McDermott has turned the stress dial up on Frazier’s tepid stress protection, however not by a lot. The Payments blitz fee is league-average, however their stress fee and sack fee are among the many prime 5. Opening the valve has gotten McDermott in bother earlier than. McDermott’s cover-0 blitz of Russell Wilson on third and 10 in a Week 10 loss to the Broncos was closely criticized, however since then, the Payments have been one of many league’s hottest groups. As inconsistent as Allen has been, their protection has allowed the second fewest touchdowns within the league all season.
In high-pressure conditions, Mahomes is without doubt one of the NFL”s finest, so that you received’t see him attempting to rush Kansas Metropolis’s pocket Houdini into a nasty choice. The alternative is true of Allen, who will be beguiled into turnovers.
And but, as stacked as these Payments are, McDermott and Co. can’t afford to muck this up. The frustration is mounting inside their fan base even when they refuse to acknowledge it. There’s no probability the Payments navigate a brand new course in the event that they lose, however a win over their hardest hurdle can be legacy-definition. The highest-seed within the AFC, Baltimore isn’t a gimme, however they’ve by no means climbed the postseason mountain both.
Buffalo’s window is large open now and as we’ve seen from the deterioration of Kansas Metropolis’s supporting forged, there’s no telling what tomorrow or subsequent season will carry.
Observe DJ Dunson on X: @cerebralsportex