The Buffalo Bills rode the success of Josh Allen and their high powered offense to the AFC Championship Game last season. Thanks to Sean McDermott and his background as a coach, the Bills have a new --albeit familiar -- identity through four games in 2021.
Buffalo still has a prolific offense behind Allen, but the Bills defense has been the unheralded story of this season. The Bills posted another shutout in Sunday's 42-0 victory over the Houston Texans -- their second shutout through four games this year.
With two shutouts in the first four games (Buffalo shut out Miami 35-0 in Week 2), the Bills are the first team since the 2000 Baltimore Ravens to earn two shutouts in the first four games of the season. That Ravens team has the modern-era NFL record for points per game allowed in a season (10.3) and ranked first in the league in nine defensive categories. The 2000 Ravens allowed just 23 points in four postseason games, not allowing an offensive touchdown in their Super Bowl XXXV victory over the New York Giants.
The Bills rank first in seven major defensive categories, including points (11.0) and yards allowed (216.8) yards per game. They're the first team with multiple 35-plus point shutouts in a season since the 2009 New York Jets (that team reached the AFC Championship Game). The 42-point victory was the second-largest shutout win in franchise history, as the Bills held the Texans to just 109 yards and six first downs, with five takeaways.
The Bills have not just been winning, but winning big. Buffalo has outscored its opponents 118-21 over the last three games, scoring 35-plus points in each of their victories -- the second-longest streak in franchise history. Buffalo is averaging 33.5 points per game, trailing only the Arizona Cardinals (35.0) in that category.
Buffalo joined the 2000 Ravens and 1991 Washington Football Team as the only teams to post shutouts in two of the first four games since 1990 -- and those teams won the Super Bowl.
The Bills look to be one of the most complete teams in the NFL after four games -- emerging as the favorite in the AFC as a result. Let's just say they aren't looking that far ahead yet.
"It don't matter what you do right now, it's about how you play then (the playoffs)," defensive tackle Ed Oliver said after the win, via the Bills website. "We are building up to play well then. We just putting the reps in, getting the work in, so we know what time it is when we get there."