There is a new sheriff in town, ready to dominate the AFC East for the next decade, and his name is Josh Allen. For a long time, the Buffalo Bills were the doormat of the division, only to be outdone by the New York Jets most years. But even the lowly Jets managed to play in back-to-back AFC championship games during the Brady-Belichick era, which spanned two decades.
Before drafting Josh Allen in 2018, the Bills had just one playoff appearance in the 21st century. Last year Allen led the Bills to their first AFC championship game since ’93. In Allen’s rookie year, he won five games, with the team winning just six total. With Allen as the full-time starter in year two, the Bills accomplished a 10-win season and a playoff berth. Year three was 13 wins, a division title, and the AFC championship game.
Allen’s stats have improved so much from season to season that he finished second in the MVP voting last year behind three-time winner Aaron Rodgers. A distant second, yes, but that type of growth from a player who many were ready to give up on after a disappointing rookie campaign is quite the accomplishment. I think Allen reaches elite-level NFL quarterback status this year by winning his first league MVP award.
Last season Allen passed for 37 touchdowns and 4,544 yards. In his first two years, Allen threw a combined 30 TDs and 5,163 yards. His passing statistics have improved across the board in just about every significant category. Yards, yards per game, yards per attempt, first downs, completion percentage, total quarterback rating (QBR), passer rating, and I could keep going. Name a stat, and Allen has improved it every year of his career thus far.
He’s also shown the ability to beat defenses with his legs as well. In his first two years, Allen rushed for 17 TDs which is second-most all-time by a QB behind Cam Newton (22). While Allen passed the ball more in year three, he still managed eight rushing TDs and 421 yards on the ground, which is the lowest of his career.
Allen is the best QB in his division by a wide margin. Buffalo dominated the AFC East in 2020, sweeping the division, and Allen played a massive part by throwing 13 TDs to only 2 INTs in 6 division games. Close to 40% of Allen’s passing yards (1,732) came against the division last year. I only see his domination over the division continuing this season and into the future.
Another major contributor to Allen’s potential MVP season is the addition of an elite wide receiver on the outside. Stefon Diggs had the best season of his pro career catching passes from Allen. Watching the tandem, it looked as if they’d played together for years, not a few months. Diggs caught 127 balls and 8 TDs in his first year with Allen and the Bills. Most of Diggs’ stats jumped up significantly the same way Allen’s did. Allen and Diggs both earned their first pro bowl selections, and Diggs was named All-Pro for the first time.
There isn’t any reason to think this duo won’t continue to be a factor in the East and the AFC overall. I don’t see Super Bowl for the Bills just yet, but I see Allen continuing to dominate on an individual level as the team gradually continues to make their way towards that ultimate goal. Josh Allen should be favored to win the MVP award this year, and I won’t be surprised at all when he does.