Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Everything the Bills are doing this season is conjuring memories of the famous golden era of football in Buffalo when Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith demolished the AFC on a regular basis en route to four consecutive trips -- that ultimately didn't go too well -- to the Super Bowl.  

And you know, we all know -- in the modern-day NFL, offense runs the show. Each of the last five Super Bowl champions finished inside the top five in points scored during the regular season. 

Which got us thinking -- how good is Buffalo's offense this season compared to those celebrated Buffalo offenses from around three decades ago?

For as dynamic as the Bills offense has been this season, across the board it doesn't stack up to the 1991 attack, which remains the most efficient offense in team history. Believe me, I checked. That year, Kelly and backup Frank Reich combined for 39 passing touchdowns and running back Thurman Thomas was MVP of the entire league. Loaded City. 

But is it fair to compare that 1991 team to this Bills squadron? Not really. That club in 1991 was a team making its second Super Bowl run. How about the squad from 1990, the first year the Bills advanced to a Super Bowl? After all, this is the first time the Bills have been Super Bowl contenders in at least 25 years. 

Here's how the two offenses compare on a percentage basis relative to the rest of the NFL in those respective seasons:

Yards per playRushing yardsPassing yardsFirst downsNet yards per attemptPoints scored













That 1991 offense was a juggernaut too -- slightly ahead of this season's Bills in yards per play, net yards per attempt and points scored relative to the rest of the NFL. 

But notice the run-pass splits. Buffalo finished this regular season with nearly 10% fewer rushing yards than the NFL average, but had a whopping 20% more passing yards than league average. While not pictured in the table, this year's Bills had 17.7% more passing first downs than league average, the 1990 iteration was exactly at the NFL average with 161 passing first downs. There's your difference in offensive philosophies over 30 years of NFL football. 

Whether comparing the 1990 or 1991 unit to today's Bills, it's clear -- the difference was a Hall of Fame running back (Thurman Thomas). 

Also, Kelly was in his fifth NFL season in 1990 and sixth in 1991. They were his age-30 and age-31 seasons. 

Josh Allen turned 24 in May. 

Which got me thinking -- how about that sneaky good 1988 Bills team that's often overlooked because it didn't reach the Super Bowl and therefore wasn't connected to Buffalo's four straight Super Bowl trips. Technically that team was the first club in the Kelly era to be a Super Bowl contender. They were? Yep. Went 12-4, won the division -- for the first time with Kelly under center -- and advanced to the AFC title game but lost to the Boomer Esiason's Bengals. Because of the start to his pro career occurring in the USFL, Kelly was 28 in 1988, but it was his third season in the NFL, just like Allen is in now.

Here's how those offenses compare:

Yards per playRushing yardsPassing yardsFirst downsNet yards per attemptPoints scored















Besides rushing yards, it's a clean sweep for the current Bills team offensively. Pretty impressive.

And in Buffalo's playoff win over the Colts -- despite only having the ball for under 26 minutes -- the Bills scored 27 points and averaged a hefty 6.8 yards per play, their fourth-highest yards-per-play-average of the season to date. 

Maybe history repeats itself. Maybe it doesn't. But this Bills offense is ahead of where the Kelly-led Bills were in late 1980s before they ascended to dominance in the AFC for the first half of the 1990s.