The NFL’s Buffalo Bills are again expected to compete for a championship in 2021, returning to the standard set by the teams in the glory years of the early 1990s. After winning the AFC East for the first time in 25 years, fans' expectations are high this fall...and they should be.
Of course, few fan bases back their teams with as much loyalty and fervor as supporters of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, collectively known as the exuberant “Bills Mafia”. Often wearing their trademark Zubaz pants, these zebra-printed, die-hard super fans are recognized throughout the National Football League for their wild pre-game tailgate parties surrounding the newly renamed Highmark Stadium. Bills Mafia defines the home-field advantage.
Since 1973, the Buffalo Bills have played their home games in picturesque Orchard Park, New York. In that time, Highmark Stadium (formerly New Era Field, Ralph Wilson Stadium, and Rich Stadium) has hosted approximately 72,000 fans within its confines for some of the NFL’s greatest games, including the 1993 playoff matchup between the Bills and Houston Oilers. In this incredible game dubbed “The Comeback”, the Buffalo Bills made up a 32-point deficit to win the game in overtime. Nearly 30 years later, it remains the greatest comeback in NFL history.
Within this same period (1990-1993), the Buffalo Bills enjoyed one of the most dominant runs in league history, earning a record four consecutive AFC championships and Super Bowl appearances. Led by Hall of Fame players Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Bruce Smith (the only three Bills players to have their numbers retired in team history) and Hall of Fame head coach Marv Levy, the Bills won their place in the pantheon of great NFL teams.
The Buffalo Bills played their first season in 1960 and won back-to-back AFL championships in 1964 and 1965. They lost the 1966 AFL title game against the Kansas City Chiefs, just missing out on playing in the historic first Super Bowl two weeks later. The Bills joined the NFL in 1970 following the AFL-NFL merger that year.
While this century hasn't brought the same level of success as the past one, Buffalo is headed in the right direction with three playoff appearances in the last four seasons (snapping a 17-year postseason drought). Led by Pro Bowl quarterback Josh Allen, the Bills will kick off the 2021 season against Pittsburgh on September 12.
Sunday night, October 10 is circled on every Bills fan's calendar, as Buffalo travels to Kansas City for a rematch of the AFC Championship Game. Other highlights of the 2021 slate include a Monday Night Football game in Tennessee October 18, a Thanksgiving evening visit to New Orleans, and a home MNF date with the Patriots December 6.
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