ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Is it a sure bet that Josh Allen won't be the NFL's Most Valuable Player?
The Buffalo Bills quarterback put one final stamp on the greatest regular-season statistically in franchise history during a 56-26 rout of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Week 17, eclipsing Drew Bledsoe's record for passing yards in a single season. Allen holds single-season franchise records for passing yards (4,544), touchdowns (37) and completions (396) in his third NFL season for the Bills, who enter the playoffs as the AFC's No. 2 seed and will play host to the Indianapolis Colts (11-5) in the wild-card round.
"We're playing good. Guys are getting open, catching the ball, doing their job," Allen said. "Guys up front are blocking and [offensive coordinator Brian] Daboll is calling excellent games and we're going out and executing. Find better ways to get the ball out and keeping the ball out of harm's way. Trying to limit the turnovers is something we're gonna need to do in the playoffs."
It is essentially a three-horse race for MVP between Allen, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, with Rodgers the front-runner heading into Week 17. But Allen's credentials for the award can't be ignored.
He finishes with just 10 interceptions, and had another 418 yards and eight scores on the ground. Although he doesn't lead the trio in any of the major passing categories, he's put up similar stats against a tougher schedule; according to ESPN's FPI rankings, the Bills played the 14th-hardest schedule in the NFL this season. The Chiefs and Packers have played the 18th- and 24th-hardest schedules, respectively.
He is also the most prevalent reason the Bills' offense has improved from 24th in 2019 to fourth in 2020. Their passing offense, specifically, improved from a paltry 26th last season to second this season. Allen had more passing touchdowns this season than his previous two combined; if he's not the league MVP, he's a candidate to be its most-improved player.
But Allen isn't the only Bills player deserving of an award. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs continued his career season with 76 yards on seven catches, improving his season total to 127 catches and 1,535 yards -- both tops in the NFL. For a player without a Pro Bowl selection entering the 2020 season, Diggs could bring home a Pro Bowl selection, an All-Pro nod and an AFC Offensive Player of the Year award.
Beyond the accolades, Buffalo's big win Sunday ensured its playoff games would be at Bills Stadium unless it matches up with the No. 1-seeded Chiefs -- and would give the Bills home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if the Chiefs lost prior to the AFC Championship Game. And Bills Stadium will offer little comfort for any visiting team, as the Bills are arguably the hottest team in the league right now.
They've won nine of their past 10, losing only on a Kyler Murray-to-DeAndre Hopkins Hail Mary in Week 10. Since returning from their Week 11 bye, the Bills have outscored their opponents 229-110 and have registered eight straight multiple-score wins dating to Week 9. They're also about as healthy as they could ask for with the exception of slot receiver Cole Beasley, who is considered week-to-week with a knee injury.
Bills players and coaches insisted all season that they want to be playing their best football come January. Well, it's January, and Buffalo looks like a legitimate Super Bowl contender.