If you had told a Buffalo Bills fan at the end of Super Bowl XXV 32 years ago that they would be back in the showpiece event for the next three years, it might have taken the edge off the heartbreaking spectacle of Scott Norwood missing a game-winning field goal attempt. At least, it might have done that until you filled in the blanks – that 20-19 defeat to the Giants would be the closest they would get on the scoreboard to actually winning one of those four Super Bowls. With the Bills now among the favorites at in2bet.com.cy to win the 57th iteration of the biggest game in sports, fans who are younger than their mid-30s will be getting excited – but those who remember those four years may be more pessimistic.
There’s little doubt that the Bills are good enough to be NFL champions, but it’s fair to say that an experience like the early 90s conditions football fans to be skeptical. Buffalo may have the best all-around offense and a defense capable of competing with the best, but until you’ve been to the show, you never really know whether you have what it takes to win it. And while they’d certainly be a popular winner, nobody is going to hand them a shot at it. So the question is there to be asked: Can the Buffalo Bills of 2023 put to rest the trauma of 1991-4?
If not now, when?
When a team loses in the deciding match or narrowly misses out on reaching it, there are always people who will say, “This isn’t the last you’ve heard of [team name here]; I promise you!”. And yet, sometimes it is. The Atlanta Falcons reached the big game in 2017 and raced out to a 28-3 lead over the favored New England Patriots. They then conceded 31 unanswered points and lost in overtime, and they haven’t gone close since. Sometimes in sports, you have to strike while the iron is hot, and with Josh Allen having the perfect mix of youthful athleticism and game-managing experience, the iron may never get hotter than this. The Bills should be thinking that the moment is now.
The Hamlin factor
It’s been less than a fortnight since Bills safety Damar Hamlin tackled Cincinnati wide receiver Tee Higgins and then collapsed on the field, having been struck in the chest by Higgins’ shoulder. After what turned out to be a cardiac arrest, doctors fought to save Hamlin’s life.
Not only were they successful in doing so, but Hamlin has now been able to leave the hospital with a clean neurological profile. It’s the best possible news, and Bills players can now reflect on how fortunate they are to have their colleague and friend still around after all the fears that resulted from that collapse. This kind of thing galvanizes a team, and they now have a positive example of why you should always make the most of opportunities.
They need to get there first
Of course, talking about whether the Bills can win the Super Bowl presupposes them actually getting there. The first two steps should be straightforward: Miami without Tua and (probably) a Jacksonville squad that needs to cook a little longer before it’s ready. That would take them to the AFC Championship, where their opponent would be Cincinnati or Kansas City. Joe Burrow or Patrick Mahomes. The team they were playing at the time of Damar Hamlin’s collapse, or the team that kicked them out in last season’s Divisional round. Becoming AFC champions will be a challenge for Buffalo, and if they can do that, they can certainly beat whatever the NFC throws at them.