Buffalo Went From Coming Up Short in the Playoffs to Just Avoiding Them Altogether

The Buffalo Bills’ best seasons were during the 1990s.  And based upon how they have been running their team in the 2000’s, it seems they would like to keep it that way.

During the 1990s, the Bills qualified for the NFL playoffs eight times, including a string of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances.  Famously, the team lost each of those title games, but it was still a remarkable run of excellence.  The 2000s, however, have not been as kind to the team from upstate New York.

Buffalo is the only franchise in the NFL to have not played a single playoff game during the 2000s.  They also are the only team to not even have a single 10-win season since the turn of the century.


Longest Active Streak of Missing the NFL Playoffs

Team Years
Buffalo Bills 14
Cleveland Browns 11
Oakland Raiders 11
St. Louis Rams 9
Jacksonville Jaguars 6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6
Miami Dolphins 5
Tennessee Titans 5
Arizona Cardinals 4
Dallas Cowboys 4


Since last making the postseason, the Bills have drafted 119 players and nine of them have been All-Pros.  That is not a horrible ratio (the Oakland Raiders have drafted only four All-Pros during that time and two of them were a kicker and a punter), but it is inflated a bit.  Defensive end, Aaron Schobel, is the only player of the nine who did not play in the secondary or at running back.

With 14 consecutive seasons of not making the postseason, the franchise surely has had plenty of high draft choices.  In 2004, 15 of the first 27 picks in the NFL draft went on to become All-Pro players.  Buffalo had two picks in that first round and neither ever made a Pro Bowl.  In 2011, 11 of the top 16 players selected have been All-Pro already in their young careers.  The Bills picked #3 overall that year; their pick was the only one of the first seven in the draft to have not made it to a Pro Bowl.

Poor drafting is only part of the equation, however.

The team has ranked in the top half of the league in rushing in six of the past seven years (finishing as high as second in 2013).  While that would have been great back in the 1990s, the NFL has become a quarterback league.  The top seven teams in passing yards per attempt this past season all made the playoffs, as did 11 of the top 14 scoring teams.  Running the ball and controlling the clock is no longer the formula for reaching the postseason.

While most of the Bills’ drought coincides with Tom Brady’s dominating tenure in the AFC East, the division’s other two teams – the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets – have still managed to combine to make the playoffs nine times since Buffalo’s last postseason appearance.

Suddenly, losing four straight Super Bowls in the early 1990s doesn’t seem so bad.

(photo by Alan Kotok)

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