Find line reports, best bets, and subscribe to push notifications in the Betting News section.
Late in the 2019 season, the Buffalo Bills were attempting to make history. As they clung to a one-point lead with nine minutes to go in Week 16, the Bills were threatening to snap the Patriots' historic 10-year streak atop the AFC East by giving themselves a shot to win the division for the first time since 1995.
Then Tom Brady did what Tom Brady does, engineering a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Buffalo as Bills quarterback Josh Allen missed a last-chance pass on fourth down. But while the breaks didn't go their way, it was clear the Bills are coming. This year, they may finally arrive.
Buffalo will begin 2020 with 21 of the 22 starters from its most-used lineups last year back in the fold, and it'll be one of just three teams that have employed the same head coach and coordinators for more than two full seasons. In a potentially shortened offseason, that continuity is even more important than usual. So is improving along the margins, which includes acquiring a star receiver in Stefon Diggs and adding depth to a young, elite defense.
Meanwhile, Brady is gone, throwing the door wide open for the Bills to win the division and launch a title run. As of Thursday at theScore Bet in New Jersey, Buffalo is listed at 22-1 to win the Super Bowl, 13-1 to win the AFC, and +120 to win the AFC East. Those aren't just solid values - they're the best bets you can make right now.
Let's get this out of the way first: Allen won't be a liability this season. And if things break right, he could be a valuable asset.
If the memory of Allen choking away last year's wild-card game against the Houston Texans is seared into your memory, you should scrub it clean, because Allen will. As The Ringer's Robert Mays explained so well a year ago, Allen is among the best at diagnosing a personal weakness and turning it into a strength.
During his rookie season in 2018, Allen was the worst in the league at intermediate throws, so he spent the next offseason honing that one skill. Then in 2019, he was among the best QBs in the NFL at intermediate throws - a skill that generally translates well to future success. That development was a quintessential case of a quarterback with gobs of talent actually unlocking it. Do you want to bet against that happening in 2020?
Allen's next frontier is improving his deep accuracy, and the Bills are taking steps to make it happen. The team unloaded a cache of picks to nab Diggs, one of the best route-runners in the game and an elite deep threat. The former Vikings wideout also excels at running hitches and crossers - Allen's two most-targeted routes, according to PFF's Anthony Treash - and is strong against press coverage, which is important when battling elite corners in the AFC East.
At this point, Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley form arguably the best receiving trio in the AFC, which is to say nothing of promising tight end Dawson Knox. The Bills also feature running back Devin Singletary, who tied for the NFL lead in yards per attempt (5.1) as a rookie among all players with at least 150 carries. And the offensive line, which was built from scratch a year ago, is returning all five starters - a rare advantage in today's NFL.
The Patriots and 49ers drew all the praise last year, and rightfully so, for their historically great defenses led by smothering secondaries. But the Bills' defense deserved to be recognized too, and that unit could become the NFL's best in 2020.
This offseason, both New England (at linebacker) and San Francisco (along the defensive line) sustained significant losses on defense. What did the Bills do? They returned 10 of 11 starters - with rising star Ed Oliver sliding into that 11th spot - and added depth at all three levels to a group that ranked sixth in defensive DVOA in 2019 and second in 2018 with a top-five pass D both seasons.
Last year, Buffalo's defense also ranked second per drive in points allowed (1.34), punts forced (.475), and three-and-outs (.271). It allowed just three teams to score more than two touchdowns in a game, and it held Baltimore's juggernaut offense to a season-worst 257 total yards. Five of Buffalo's key projected starters will be 26 or younger when the 2020 season starts, which suggests the unit could improve on its strong 2019 numbers.
Add it all up, and it's easy to see why there's optimism in Buffalo. The Bills are building a strong, experienced core around an improving quarterback and a unified coaching staff - the same framework that propelled the Ravens to the NFL's best record and the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2019.
When factoring in rival teams' moves, it seems the stars have perfectly aligned this offseason for Buffalo, which is already drawing strong betting interest the way Baltimore and San Francisco did a year ago. And with the team's title odds as high as 30-1, it's hard not to buy the Bills as the best value in the current market.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.