The Buffalo Bills’ 2022 season came to an end on Sunday after a disappointing loss in the Divisional Round to the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-10. The Bills were the favorites to win, their eight-game winning streak entering the game and the fact that it was being played at Highmark Stadium aiding in the lofty spread. Buffalo, however, was thoroughly outplayed, a season that was dubbed ‘Super Bowl or bust’ by many ending with a thud. Here are some takeaways from the game.
1. Injuries caught up to the Bills: Ever since Von Miller went down with that injury on Thanksgiving, the Bills’ pass rush wasn’t the same. The Bills didn’t have one single player in the top 40 of pass rush win rate throughout the last five weeks of the season. Their best player in the statistic was Greg Rousseau, per ESPN, who was 43rd in the NFL in pass rush win rate in the last five weeks. You need to be able to get to the quarterback if you want to win the big ones, and the Bills just couldn’t. Losing Micah Hyde also derailed the secondary, who seemed lost at times on Sunday. Throughout the season, the Bills dealt with many injuries and guys missing games left and right. They had been relatively healthy the last two seasons, but this year, that wasn’t the case, and it ultimately played a role in their shortcomings.
2. Offensive Line needs to be addressed: Josh Allen was sacked eight times in two games in the playoffs. The run game was not effective against Cincinnati. The running backs, Devin Singletary and James Cook, ran the ball a combined 11 times for 37 yards. Allen was the leading rusher in the game with 26 yards and one touchdown. Right guard Roger Saffold had an 18.1 pass-blocking grade according to PFF, and a 57.1 run-blocking grade to go along with it. Three guys on the offensive line (Dion Dawkins, Ryan Bates, and Mitch Morse) had run-blocking grades of 53 or less. That – along with general deficiencies throughout the season – shows an upgrade will need to be made via the draft or free agency this offseason
3. Josh Allen needs to limit turnovers: According to ESPN Stats and Info, Allen finished the season with 23 turnovers, which is the most by any player in a season over the last three years. Turnovers weren’t the story yesterday, but Allen needs to learn to take care of the ball better if the Bills want to take this offense to the next level.
4. The Bengals are no joke: Joe Burrow has now made his second straight AFC Championship and is looking to go to his second straight Super Bowl. Burrow might not be the most talented quarterback in the league, but he knows how to win and get the job done. Allen and Mahomes are still very talented with physical attributes that most quarterbacks don’t have, but if Burrow is able to make it back to the Super Bowl while beating Allen and Mahomes along the way, that is a message sent to the AFC. The Bengals defensively also had a good game plan, disguising the pass rush while still only sending three or four to cause pressure on Allen.
The Bills have a lot to work on this offseason, but with everything that they went through this season, it was still a fun ride. With Josh Allen, the Buffalo Bills will always have a chance.