What we'll remember from last postseason is the Buffalo Bills losing an intense overtime game at the Kansas City Chiefs. The complaints about not getting the ball after losing the OT coin toss. The defense's failure in the final 13 seconds of regulation.
What doesn't get enough attention is how the Bills screwed up a prime opportunity to win a championship by giving away regular-season games.
Buffalo lost six regular-season games. They were favored in five of them. In four of them, they were favored by 6 or more points. One of them was a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars as a 14.5-point favorite.
That's why Buffalo was at Arrowhead Stadium in January. It gave away the No. 1 seed to the Tennessee Titans and home-field advantage to Kansas City with those losses. We remember the loss to the Chiefs. We didn't talk enough about how they could have put themselves in better position and maybe won that game at home. And if they won that divisional-round game, there's a good chance they'd have won a Super Bowl.
This season is a little more than halfway done and we're seeing a potential repeat of that failure.
The Bills are probably the most talented team in football. That's arguable, but it would be foolish to not at least concede they're on a short list. It's a team that has the capability of having the best offense and defense in the NFL. Their peak is impressive. They can win a Super Bowl.
And they might be screwing it up again.
The Bills lost their second straight game on Sunday. They lost as an 11-point favorite in Week 9 to the New York Jets and a 6.5-point favorite on Sunday to the Minnesota Vikings. All they had to do against the Vikings was knock down a fourth-and-18 instead of watching Justin Jefferson make the catch of the season, or even just not fumble a snap on their goal line that gave the Vikings a gift touchdown. Josh Allen forced an interception to end it in overtime. The Bills blew a 17-point lead in the loss.
This is what costs teams Super Bowls. Only one team gets the No. 1 seed and a bye, and the path was clear for the Bills after beating the Chiefs earlier this season. The same thing happened last season, when the Bills beat the Chiefs and then gave away so many games they ended up behind Tennessee and Kansas City in the AFC's seeding. And this year, they have to contend with a very good Miami Dolphins team just to win the AFC East.
Teams have taken the long road to the Super Bowl. The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams did it last season. The Bills have the talent to go on the road and beat the Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens or anyone else in January. But if they had the No. 1 seed and needed just two home wins to make the Super Bowl? They'd be a massive favorite.
What's maddening is the Bills almost never get blown out. Their three losses this season came by a combined eight points. Their only loss by more than seven points since the start of the 2021 season was to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11 last year. There's some bad luck involved in that. But the Bills have also been awful in close games. They've had nine one-possession losses since the start of last season and that seems more like a flaw than a coincidence.
There's time for the Bills to get things together and get the No. 1 seed. Football Outsiders gives Buffalo a 28.6 percent chance to get the AFC's top seed. If not, and the Bills are eliminated before the Super Bowl again, don't look back on the playoff losses. Remember all the games in the middle of the season that the Bills had no business losing but did.
It's hard to win a Super Bowl and you don't get many chances at it. The Bills will be a contender for a while, mostly because of Allen, but there's no guarantee. And it feels like Buffalo is giving this golden opportunity away.
Here are the power rankings after Week 10 of the NFL season:
32. Houston Texans (1-7-1, Last Week: 32)
The only reason to watch the Texans is Dameon Pierce. It's a good reason; he's a dynamic back. He had another 94 rushing yards in Sunday's loss. He'll have a good case for Offensive Rookie of the Year if voters don't hold the Texans' record against him (and they shouldn't).
31. Las Vegas Raiders (2-7, LW: 28)
Raiders owner Mark Davis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he supports Josh McDaniels, who is doing a "fantastic job." If McDaniels is doing a "fantastic job," imagine what adjectives Davis would have for a coach who didn't just fall to 2-7 by losing to Jeff Saturday, who was in his seventh day on the job.
30. New Orleans Saints (3-7, LW: 23)
The Saints reportedly aren't ready to bench Andy Dalton and go back to Jameis Winston. I don't get why they wouldn't make that move. Winston is who he is, but Dalton is a veteran near the end of his career and the offense is doing nothing with him. What's the downside to making a switch?
29. Carolina Panthers (3-7, LW: 31)
D'Onta Foreman deserves a tip of the cap. He had 130 yards in last week's win, his third 100-yard effort in his past four games. Just about every running back who has suffered a torn Achilles has had a rough time coming back, and there are virtually no success stories. Foreman tore his Achilles in 2017, and probably is the running back who has had the most successful return from that injury.
28. Chicago Bears (3-7, LW: 25)
Among healthy running backs, only two have per-carry averages above 5.7. Tony Pollard and Khalil Herbert each are averaging 6 yards per carry. Everyone talks about how the Cowboys need to use Pollard more, but there should be an outcry over the Bears' lack of usage for Herbert, who has 17 carries in Chicago's past two games.
27. Detroit Lions (3-6, LW: 30)
Jeff Okudah made the biggest play of Sunday's game, a pick-six in the fourth quarter. Okudah hasn't become the cornerback the Lions were hoping when they made him the third pick of the 2020 draft (passing on Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert), but he is having his best season. After dealing with a lot of adversity, it was good to see him make such a big play in a win.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6, LW: 29)
Kenny Pickett played well in the Steelers' win. He had 199 passing yards and added 51 rushing. Pickett's development is the biggest story of the Steelers' season, and while he has been far from perfect, there have been some good signs. Sunday was a step in the right direction.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7, LW: 24)
Travon Walker, the first pick of the draft, is having a fairly quiet rookie season. He has 2.5 sacks in 10 games. His Pro Football Focus grade is 75th among 119 qualified edge defenders. He has had some good moments but there haven't been enough of them. It can take pass rushers time to develop, and seeing more out of Walker is key for the Jaguars over the last seven games.
24. Cleveland Browns (3-6, LW: 20)
The Browns are a bad team. A lot of angry fans want defensive coordinator Joe Woods fired, but that probably doesn't help much. They've had one truly good performance all season, in that Monday night win against the Bengals. I have no idea how to explain how they dominated Cincinnati like that.
23. Denver Broncos (3-6, LW: 19)
The Broncos' offense Sunday was basically one 66-yard touchdown pass to undrafted rookie Jalen Virgil. That was a cool moment; it was Virgil's first career catch. Once those good feelings subside, all that's left is the realization that the bye week did no good and the Broncos' offense might be the worst in team history. It's the first time the Broncos have failed to score at least 24 points in a game through the first nine games of a season in franchise history, via Andrew Mason of 104.3 The Fan.
22. Atlanta Falcons (4-6, LW: 21)
The Falcons might as well start rookie Desmond Ridder at quarterback. They don't trust Marcus Mariota to throw. Mariota had an awful game last Thursday night. There's nothing to lose anymore by making that move. And maybe Ridder can spark something.
21. Los Angeles Rams (3-6, LW: 18)
Cooper Kupp could miss time with an ankle injury, and that's a really bad scenario for the Rams. Los Angeles relies on Kupp for just about everything, and the offense was bad with him carrying the entire load. How awful will it be without one of the best receivers in the NFL?
20. Arizona Cardinals (4-6, LW: 26)
The Cardinals got a nice win on Sunday, but then lost tight end Zach Ertz to a season-ending injury and surprisingly cut backup running back Eno Benjamin, who was effective when he filled in for James Conner. The latter move doesn't seem to be entirely due to football reasons. So even on a positive Sunday for the Cardinals, they still manage to take a step back.
19. Indianapolis Colts (4-5-1, LW: 27)
The switch back to Matt Ryan is not necessarily the wrong one, but the path to get there is strange. Jim Irsay said that the decision to bench Ryan was one he, GM Chris Ballard and since-fired coach Frank Reich made, but it was "always Frank’s prerogative" to make a QB switch. It's hard to believe that. When the owner of the team is involved in a decision, especially a hands-on owner like Irsay, he'll have the most important voice in that conversation. It's fair to view the situation as Reich being forced into benching Ryan, then a few weeks later Jeff Saturday being allowed to go back to Ryan, who does give the team a better chance to win in the short term. It would be interesting to get Reich's side of what went down.
18. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4, LW: 15)
The Chargers' five second-half possessions gained 57 net yards, three first downs and ended with three punts, a turnover on downs and an interception. Even with all the injuries they have, and despite facing a good 49ers defense, the Chargers' offense with Justin Herbert has to be better than that.
17. Green Bay Packers (4-6, LW: 17)
Christian Watson's three-touchdown game was a revelation. We've seen other teams get immediate contributions from rookie receivers, but the Packers' second-round draft pick was slow to come around. The Packers' win on Sunday keeps them relevant this season, and if Watson's emergence sticks, maybe they can get rolling.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5, LW: 16)
Was Sunday's win in Germany a sign the Bucs are coming around? Maybe. The one thing they can mostly count on is winning the NFC South. Nobody in that division should challenge them, unless Tampa Bay does a complete pratfall. That gives the Bucs a chance to make an unexpected run.
15. Washington Commanders (5-5, LW: 22)
A shocking win over the Eagles will help Washington's chances of making the playoffs in a watered-down NFC. Are you ready for all four NFC East teams to be in the playoffs? It could happen.
14. New England Patriots (5-4, LW: 13)
The Patriots' next three games are against the Jets, at the Vikings and against the Bills. Those are three teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. If the Patriots are going to make the playoffs, they need to win at least one of those three games. Maybe two.
13. Seattle Seahawks (6-4, LW: 9)
There's not much reason to worry about that loss if you're a Seahawks fan. It was a strange trip to Germany and the Buccaneers played their best game in weeks. The Seahawks have a bye and then play the Raiders, Rams and Panthers, so they should get right back on a winning streak.
12. New York Giants (7-2, LW: 14)
Saquon Barkley took over the rushing lead, with 931 yards. Derrick Henry has 923 and Nick Chubb has 904. Last season only one rusher surpassed 1,259 yards. Two seasons ago, only two backs surpassed 1,169 rushing yards. This season we have three on pace to go beyond 1,700.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4, LW: 12)
On Monday, Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that injured receiver Ja'Marr Chase was still on crutches. The Bengals seemed confident Chase would return quickly but that might not be the case.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-3, LW: 11)
The Titans didn't play well on offense. Derrick Henry had just 2.8 yards per carry. They had just 14 first downs. But the defense showed up and the Titans won an ugly game. If you keep winning games that you seemingly have no business winning, and do it over multiple seasons, that's a skill.
9. New York Jets (6-3, LW: 10)
The last time the Jets played the Patriots, they were outclassed. It's the only time that has been the case since the end of September. There's a rematch in New England this weekend, and the Jets could take another step forward in their season if they adjust and play much better against Bill Belichick this time around.
8. San Francisco 49ers (5-4, LW: 8)
It was odd how Eli Mitchell had 18 carries to Christian McCaffrey's 14. The 49ers didn't give up a truckload of draft picks for Mitchell. But the 49ers won and maybe this will help keep McCaffrey healthy and fresh for the playoffs.
7. Dallas Cowboys (6-3, LW: 4)
I don't have any issue with Mike McCarthy going for it on fourth-and-3. Those ripping him like criticizing McCarthy and also judge decisions after they see the results. Dallas losing after leading by 14 in the fourth quarter — Dallas was 195-0, counting playoffs, when it led by 14 points through three quarters before Sunday — is certainly disappointing. But an overtime loss at a desperate Green Bay team isn't the end of the world. The Cowboys are still very good.
6. Buffalo Bills (6-3, LW: 2)
The strange part of Sunday's loss was the way the defense let down. Buffalo hadn't given up more than 21 points or 398 yards in a game all season. Against Minnesota, the Bills gave up 481 yards and 33 points and blew a 17-point lead. That's probably a fluke but it's troubling.
5. Baltimore Ravens (7-3, LW: 5)
The Ravens' bye came at the right time. They're peaking and perhaps will get healthier, too. Like Tennessee last season, don't count out the Ravens surprising everyone and stealing the No. 1 seed. Their remaining schedule is very easy.
4. Miami Dolphins (7-3, LW: 7)
Mike McDaniel has been a great hire. If you were doing it all over again, would McDaniel, Kevin O'Connell or Brian Daboll be the top choice among the 2022 hires? All three have a case for Coach of the Year.
3. Minnesota Vikings (8-1, LW: 6)
It was OK to be skeptical about the Vikings' start. This wasn't a classic dominant 7-1 start. But a win at Buffalo, even as close as that one was, validates Minnesota's start.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1, LW: 1)
Yes, officials missed a blatant facemask on a huge fourth-quarter fumble by Philly. The Eagles have a right to be upset about that. Put that aside for a moment: The Eagles got outplayed by an 11-point underdog at home. They are having trouble against the run with rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis out due to injury. Everyone in the NFL has lost already, and most teams have at least one bad loss. Losing on Monday night doesn't mean the Eagles aren't really good. But they have to be honest with themselves: The officials weren't the only reason they lost.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2, LW: 3)
The biggest development for the Chiefs on Sunday might have been that Kadarius Toney was forced into more snaps due to JuJu Smith-Schuster's head injury, and Toney looked good. Even though the Chiefs have options at receiver, they have to keep expanding Toney's role.