August 3, 2012 1 Comment
With the trading deadline behind us and the stretch run ready to begin in baseball I can finally turn my attention to NFL training camp. Next week will be the first week with live games as the pre-season schedule kicks off but the past few weeks have been all about training camp around the NFL. Expectations have been set and they are quite high in the usual places like New England and Green Bay. In Buffalo expectations have been heightened by the arrival of former #1 pick Mario Williams and the retention of several of their own key players. It’s been 12 years since the Bills have been in the playoffs and breaking down the numbers shows exactly what this Buffalo Bills team is up against.
The 12 year playoff drought is the longest active streak in the NFL, 3 seasons ahead of the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders who each have 9 year droughts. They also have the 3rd longest active drought since a division title at 16. I’m sure Bills fans wouldn’t mind seeing that record continue if the prior one is snapped this year with a wild card berth. 16 is also the number of years since their last playoff victory, a win over the Miami Dolphins in the wild card round of the 1995 playoffs. They hold the 4th longest playoff drought in that category, which is pretty impressive since two of the teams ahead of them (Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals) were both in the playoffs last season. If Bills fans want to aim higher than a simple playoff berth then they can beat these current active streaks as well – they are tied with the Chiefs for the 6th longest championship game appearance drought at 18 seasons (although 1 ahead of their rival Dolphins whose drought stands at 19). They also have the 9th longest Super Bowl appearance drought, also at 18. Surprisingly that is only the second shortest drought in the AFC East behind New England who is at 0. The Dolphins have gone 27 years and the Jets 43 since their last Super Bowl appearances. They are also one of 9 teams who existed at the advent of the Super Bowl that have yet to win it (Arizona, Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Philadelphia, San Diego, Tennessee/Houston).
Then there are the individual players. The Bills signed punter Brian Moorman as an undrafted free agent after the 2000 season, the 1st year of the Bills current playoff drought. Moorman has played in all 176 of the Bills regular season games since then. That is the most regular season games for an active player in the NFL to play on the same team without a playoff appearance. That is also the 3rd longest active streak for most regular season games without a playoff appearance for any player in the NFL. Of the two players ahead of Moorman on that list #1, linebacker Takeo Spikes, played 47 of his 203 career games with the Bills from 2003-2006 and #2, kicker Rian Lindell, has played the last 136 of his 180 career games with the Buffalo Bills. He is one of 4 players on the Bills who has played more than 100 games without a playoff appearance along with Moorman, defensive end Chris Kelsay (138) and cornerback Terrence McGee (115). And you can add the 16 games that they will play this year to their totals as they will obviously not secure a playoff berth before the end of this season. Adding in those 16 games will put defensive tackle Kyle Williams 1 short of 100 games played without a playoff appearance. Here’s hoping that game #99 is a charm for big Kyle.
The Bills finally seem to have the team that can get into the mix and put together a serious playoff run. As you can see from above they have an uphill battle with history if they are going to climb that mountain. There is a lot of bad history to eradicate and only 16 games to do it. We’ll see if the 2012 version of the Buffalo Bills has what it takes to finally re-write that history.