Here at Bills Beat, we continue with our Top Five series, with our final edition. The Buffalo Bills have had some great teams over the years and though it’s been a while since Bills Mafia could cheer and be hopeful, I think we are seeing some of the best teams the Bills have put on the field. That said, what were some of the best in history? Is the current team up there with the best, what about the Super Bowl teams of the early ’90s?
As I looked through Buffalo’s history, I discovered a total of 26 winning seasons. Now I don’t know how that compares to some other teams that had their beginnings in the AFL but I do know the Buffalo Bills had some great teams. Some are better than others of course but let’s dive into it and find the top five all-time teams.
This was rather difficult to do, as it’s virtually impossible to compare teams of different eras but hey, this is fun all the same and makes for great debate. I also wanted to try to represent the Bills throughout their history and not just default to three of the Super Bowls teams and the two AFL Championship teams, that would be too easy.
5 – 1999 Buffalo Bills
I know many will likely disagree but here me out. I know all about the Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie debate and where I stand on that, is for another article sometime later, maybe next month, we’ll see. Anyways, back to the team that finished the season 11 – 5 and made a trip to the playoffs. The Buffalo Bills have won 13 division titles and the 1999 team was not one of them but that ’99 defense was phenomenal, one of the best in team history.
The defense was number one in the league and allowed a paltry 229 points, which sits as the third-best in team history. The only two teams to allow fewer points in a season were the 1982 and 1965 teams. If you recall, 1982 was a strike shortened season and they only played 9 games that year, so that one does not count. The 1965 teams allowed only 226 points but also played two fewer games.
The ’99 team also had a point differential of 91 points, 11th best, and was led (for most of the season) by Doug Flutie. Additionally, Eric Moulds, the best wide receiver in team history, in my opinion, was part of that team. The season ended, as we all know, with The Music City Miracle (forward lateral) against the Tennessee Titans. It was said before the game, the winner of the Bills/Titans game was going to the Super Bowl. I wonder how that great Buffalo Bills defense would have done against the St. Louis Rams? That sounds like a great, “what if…” article.
4 – 1991 Buffalo Bills
The 1991 Buffalo Bills won 13 games and advanced to the Super Bowl, where they were defeated by the Washington Redskins. This team scored 458 points that season, second in the NFL and first in yards gained. Statistically, the defense wasn’t good, finishing 27th in yards allowed and 19th in points against.
I ranked them here though because, one of the Super Bowl appearances but they also won games by an average of 8.8 points per game, which is the fourth-best in team history. Their point differential of 140 points that season was also fourth-best. Not to mention this team consisted of some of the greatest to ever play for the Buffalo Bills, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and Bruce Smith, just to name a few. Thurman Thomas produced over 1,400 yards, the second-highest total of his career, his highest yards per carry, and 62 receptions, also the highest of his career.
3 – 2021 Buffalo Bills
I know the team finished with an 11 – 6 record and lost a couple of games in 2021 that they probably shouldn’t have lost but when we look at the numbers, this team was very, very good.
They were the only team in the 2021 NFL playoffs that were top five in both offense and defense, they have one of, if not the best, quarterbacks in the league and an MVP candidate. This team also put up 483 points, second in team history. The 2021 Buffalo Bills are also one of only two Bills teams since their arrival in 1960 with the AFL, to be number one in the NFL in both points and yards allowed.
This is another one we are all too familiar with how it ended and it’s crazy to hear people say, “if not for a coin flip, Buffalo goes to another Super Bowl”. One thing that separates this team from others is the 11.4 average margin of victory and 194-point differential, both tops in the Buffalo Bills’ history. One more thing I want to add, no other Bills team has completed a “perfect” game.
2 – 1990 Buffalo Bills
I’ve heard many fans say this team was the best team on the field during Super Bowl XXV, despite the final result. I believe that of the four Super Bowls, this was the one that got away and their best chance. Though I would argue, Super Bowl XXVI was also one we should have won but hey, let’s not relive that one too.
The ’90 Bills scored the fourth-most points in team history, with 428, which was a team record at that time, only to be broken again the following season by the ’91 team, with 458. That number has now been broken twice more, in 2020 and 2021. The ’90 Bills were number one in the league in points scored, sixth in both yards gained and points allowed, and eighth in yards allowed.
It’s often been said this Buffalo Bills team was the best non-Super Bowl winning team and I think I agree with that statement. They won 13 games, which was also a record at the time that has been matched two other times since then, the following year in 1991 and more recently, in 2020.
1 – 1964 Buffalo Bills
Though I was not alive in ’64, I am always amazed at how good that team was and have heard the stories about how dominant that team was as well. I could sit for hours talking with Bills Mafia that had the pleasure of witnessing the team, not only this ’64 team but the teams of the mid-60s.
Jack Kemp was one of the best quarterbacks in the AFL, along with Cookie Gilchrist, which reminds me of a story I have to share. I have fellow Bills Mafia buddy here locally, who had a Buffalo Bills calendar on his desk. To begin every morning in the office, he would read the trivia question of the day. One question, which I can’t remember the question now, but the answer was Gilchrist. I called it correctly and my buddy was amazed that I even knew who he was. I like to remind him now and then about Gilchrist. We can’t have these younger fans not knowing the history of the team, right?
The 1964 team won the first of two AFL Championship, defeating the San Diego Chargers, 20 -7. That team just from a statistical standpoint was outstanding. They ranked number one in the league in points scored, points allowed, yards gained, yards allowed, point differential, as well as yardage differential. They won a then record 12 games, out of a 14-game schedule. The team scored 400 points and had a point differential of 158, the third-best all-time.
One Last Thing
As we approach this new season, which begins in roughly two months, the expectations surrounding this team are astronomical. Some say if the 2022 version of the Buffalo Bills don’t, at least make it to the Super Bowl, then the season will be a failure. I wanted to add this additional paragraph here to say this, this 2022 team has a better than very good chance of becoming the greatest Buffalo Bills team of all time, rewrite the record book and bring the Lombardi Trophy to Western New York.
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