What are the best Buffalo Bills teams in history? Where will the 2022-23 iteration stand when all is said and done?
As the Bills look to hoist the first Super Bowl trophy in the history of the franchise, we check in on five of the greatest teams in Buffalo history.
This list includes one pre-modern iteration of the Bills back when they were winning championships in the old AFL. It also includes three teams from the 1990s era Bills that lost four consecutive Super Bowls. Below, we give you the five-best Buffalo Bills teams of all-time.
5. 1964 Buffalo Bills
- Buffalo Bills 1964 record: 12-2
- Season results: Defeated San Diego Chargers in AFL Championship
The first of back-to-back AFL championship seasons saw Buffalo win 12 of its 14 regular-season games. Under the great Lou Saban, these Bills finished first in the league in scoring (28.6 points per game) and first in points allowed (17.3 per game).
In a sign of the times, all-time great quarterbacks Jack Kemp and Daryle Lamonica combined to throw 19 touchdowns against 34 interceptions for Buffalo. Though, the combination of Cookie Gilchrist and Bobby Smith (1,704 total yards) more than made up for that in the backfield.
The first of Buffalo’s two championship seasons to date culminated in a stellar defensive outing against San Diego in the AFL Championship Game. Tobin Rote and John Hadl combined to throw three interceptions for the Chargers.
4. 1991 Buffalo Bills
- Buffalo Bills 1991 record: 13-3
- Season results: Lost to Washington in Super Bowl XXVI
The second of four consecutive Super Bowl appearance for Marvy Levy’s Bills in the 1990s resulted in a 37-24 loss to Washington. The Bills fell down 24-0 in the third quarter and 37-10 in the final stanza as Washington dominated on both sides of the ball. Jim Kelly threw four interceptions and lost another two fumbles in an humiliating performance from the Hall of Fame quarterback.
With that said, this doesn’t take away from Buffalo’s regular-season performance and its run through the AFC Playoffs. The Bills averaged nearly 29 points per game, winning by an average of nearly 10 points. They allowed a total of 21 points in disposing of the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos in the playoffs.
All said, one of the best Buffalo Bills teams of all-time rostered five future Hall of Fame players. Not too shabby for an organization that had just returned to relevance after so many lean years in the 80s.
3. 2020 Buffalo Bills
- Buffalo Bills 2020 record: 13-3
- Season results: Lost to Kansas City Chiefs in AFC Championship Game
The 2020 Buffalo Bills seemed destined for history out of the gate. Entering his third season in the NFL, Josh Allen morphed from wide-eyed youngster to one of the most-dynamic threats in all of football (45 total TD, 10 interceptions). Stefon Diggs dominated to the tune of a league-leading 1,535 yards in his first season with Buffalo after a blockbuster trade from the Minnesota Vikings.
Unfortunately, it was the defense that came up small when it counted the most. Taking on Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the title game, Sean McDermott’s unit gave up 38 points in a 14-point road loss. The Chiefs racked up 439 total yards of offense and 29 first downs. Ouch!
2. 1993 Buffalo Bills
- Buffalo Bills 1993 record: 12-4
- Season results: Lost to Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVIII
Buffalo’s run of four consecutive AFC titles and four consecutive Super Bowl losses came to a conclusion after the 1993 season. For the second time in a row, this team was dominated by the Dallas Cowboys in the big game. In fact, an argument could be made that Dallas’ dynastic run in the 90s is the only thing that kept these Bills from hoisting a Lombardi.
This particular season saw running back Thurman Thomas (1,702 total yards) and an elite defense pick up the slack for Jim Kelly. The quarterback threw as many interceptions (18) as touchdowns (18).
It mattered little leading up to the Super Bowl with the Bills outscoring the Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs by a combined 59-36 margin in the AFC Playoffs. Unfortunately, that ugly loss to Dallas still stands out.
1. 1990 Buffalo Bills
- Buffalo Bills 1990 record: 13-3
- Season results: Lost to New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV
Marv Levy became the Bills’ interim head coach nine games into Jim Kelly’s rookie season back in 1986. It came after the firing of Hank Bullough following a loss to the equally dreadful Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9. Prior to Levy’s arrival, Buffalo had posted an 8-40 record in its previous 48 games.
Within less than a half-decade, Levy joined general manager Bill Polian in building up one of the most-talented rosters in the NFL. The 1990 Bills represented the first time the broader NFL got a glimpe of the talent those two built up in Western New York.
Homegrown talent such as Kelly, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas played vital roles as Buffalo posted a 13-3 regular-season record. It ranked first in scoring and sixth in points allowed. Buffalo’s run through the AFC was equally impressive, including a blowout 51-3 win over the Los Angeles Raiders in the conference championship game.
Like all of the best Buffalo Bills teams of this era, it ended in heart ache. When fans in Western New York hear the terms wide right and Scott Norwood, the crawl into a corner. With the New York Giants up 20-19 and eight seconds left, Norwood came on to the field for a potential game-winning field goal. It sailed…wide right. The rest is history.