Tyler Boyd, strength of victory, and other drought notes

How exactly did the Bills beat the Ravens and Chargers out?

Mike Schopp
January 01, 2018 - 2:05 pm

Photo: Mitch Stringer - USA TODAY Sports


Kemp to Dubenion, Ferguson to Butler, Kelly to Reed, Dalton to Boyd.

The Buffalo Bills' 17-year playoff drought ended moments after an improbable 49-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-long sank the Baltimore Ravens. Bills fans rejoiced and so did the players. It might be the most excited any team and its following have ever been just to make the NFL playoffs.

The Cleveland Browns -- and this feels right -- now have the league's longest playoff drought, at 15 years. The Seattle Mariners move into the top spot among all "Big 4" sports teams; their last postseason appearance was in 2001. The Bills' drought goes down tied as the fifth-longest in NFL history, and the longest that began later than 1967.

The drought ended Sunday, but technically it ended last season. It goes in the books as being 2000-2016, 17 seasons. We didn't know it all year but the drought already was over!

I'm not sure the Bills are any better a team than they've been the last three seasons. Their final point differential of minus-57 is their worst since 2012; from 2014-2016 the Bills were always in the positives. By point differential the Bills are one of the worst-ever playoff teams. However, teams at the "top" of that list happened to win their first playoff games. The 2010 Seattle Seahawks were a minus-92, and the 2011 Denver Broncos were a minus-81. Both won weak divisions to get in, and both won first-round games at home.

Do you know how the Bills beat out the Ravens and Los Chargers for that sixth spot, with all teams being 9-7? The Chargers' blowout win over the Bills meant nothing because the Ravens were tied too (and so were the Titans). Tennessee's AFC record was better than the other tied teams', and the Chargers' was worse. It was Buffalo vs. Baltimore in a category called "strength of victory". The Ravens' nine wins came against teams that totaled 43 wins this season; the teams the Bills beat combined for 57 wins. Not close. Baltimore won two games against 0-16 Cleveland and won no games against teams that finished .500 or better. The Bills beat two 10-win teams, Atlanta and Kansas City.

I'm happy for certain people I know in the Bills' organization, including Eric Wood, whose boyhood-favorite Bengals rescued the Bills. I don't know Tyrod Taylor at all but I'm really happy for him. In 58 seasons the Bills have started six quarterbacks in playoff games: Kemp, Ferguson, Kelly, Reich, Flutie, Johnson. Taylor -- assuming he isn't benched again for Nathan Peterman this week (sorry) -- will become the seventh.

Eventually -- perhaps as soon as Monday -- the conversation will turn to Taylor and his future. Was ending the drought enough for the Bills to want to keep Taylor next year? For me, if he wasn't good enough for them the last two years when he and his team were at least as good, he shouldn't be now. But I don't know what they'll do, and what if they beat Jacksonville?

It's an awful format for evaluating quarterbacks but people do it all the time, so ... it can no longer be said that Taylor can't take a team to the playoffs. Or Blake Bortles, for that matter.

Happy New Year and enjoy your week.

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