Buffalo Bills win second straight AFC East title, enter playoffs as No. 3 seed

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Entering Week 18, all the Buffalo Bills needed to clinch a second straight AFC East title was a win against the 4-12 New York Jets.

Despite the Jets keeping things close at times thanks to Buffalo's offensive struggles, the Bills got the job done with a 27-10 victory Sunday to win the division at home for the first time since 1995.

The back-to-back division titles are a first for the franchise since it won four straight from 1988 to 1991. The Bills will enter the AFC playoffs as the No. 3 seed and will host a playoff game in the wild-card round Saturday. Buffalo is 2-0 in home playoff games under coach Sean McDermott, who has led the team to the playoffs in three straight seasons.

"There's a lot of lessons you learn through the course of the season that you try and use and apply later in the year, and I think we've done that to this point," McDermott said. "We've got to continue to do that. Certainly, the game tonight was tough and they're going to be tough. So, you got to continue to grow, continue to learn and apply those lessons every week."

The Bills go into the playoffs on a four-game winning streak, tying their season-best.

With the Las Vegas Raiders' 35-32 overtime win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night, the Bills are set to play the New England Patriots for the third time this season and the first time in the playoffs in the Super Bowl era. Each team won at the opponents' home venue during the regular-season.

The Bills got off to a hot start against the Jets, putting together a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an impressive 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, despite Allen being under significant pressure.

The throw was Allen's 12th touchdown of the season on the run (traveling 8-plus mph) -- most in the NFL this season, per Next Gen Stats -- and had a completion probability of 18%, the lowest mark on a Bills touchdown since 2017.

After consecutive scoring drives in the first quarter, the Bills offense struggled. There were miscommunications between Allen and his receivers, and the unit looked out of sync. The special teams unit also wavered. Punter Matt Haack averaged 33.9 yards per punt on seven kicks, although one only traveled 7 yards, partially because of a bad snap.

But the defense kept the Bills in the game, sacking rookie quarterback Zach Wilson eight times (most under McDermott) and allowing the Jets to convert just one of 12 third downs. New York finished with four first downs (fewest allowed by the Bills a game in franchise history) and 53 total yards (second fewest allowed by the Bills in franchise history).

Buffalo has had at least five sacks in back-to-back games, which hasn't happened since 2014 (three straight games), and the Bills' eight sacks are their most in a game since 2011.

"Everybody eats. Everybody was just on it today," defensive tackle Ed Oliver said. "It just seemed like everybody was flying around. (Wilson) wanted to run around and just overlap and everybody's just rushing. ... So that was a good sight to see, especially in the game like this with so much on the line."

While there will be plenty to clean up for the playoffs, there are some positives for Buffalo coming off the win.

Not only is the Bills' pass rush in better shape headed into the postseason, but the rushing attack has improved, partially thanks to improved play from the Bills' offensive line. Running back Devin Singletary became the first Bills player to record four straight games with at least one rushing touchdown since Fred Jackson (2011), per ESPN Stats & Information. Singletary has five rushing touchdowns in his last four games after scoring six rushing touchdowns in his first 41 career games.

"Motor has started his engine," left tackle Dion Dawkins said. "Motor is a younger guy trying to find his overall rhythm, and the fact that he's found it -- or, I think there's still way more -- and the fact that he's found a certain kick, it just puts his best version of Motor in front of him. And helps us. Anytime that a kid can turn it on and do what he honestly does, shoot, it's special."

Allen has also been kept upright, going three straight games without a sack, a first in his career.

But the Bills' goals lie far beyond making a postseason appearance and winning the division. The big test is still to come.

"Nobody at the end of careers looks back and really figures out how many times you won your division," Allen said. "I think the main goal is the Super Bowl and winning the division just gives you an opportunity to do that. So that's really our focus. It's great, it's fine, hats and shirts are cool, but at the end of the day, we got a lot more work to do."