In one week, the Bills will be in the AFC title game for the first time in 27 years, when, perhaps in a bit of foreshadowing — depending on the outcome of Sunday’s divisional playoff — Buffalo hammered Kansas City, 30-13, to advance to Super Bowl XXVIII.
If that rematch of the 1993 AFC decider comes to pass, it will be in Kansas City, where Patrick Mahomes and company beat the Titans last year, 35-24, to make (and eventually win) the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years.
On the other side on Sunday is Cleveland, which of course has never been to the Super Bowl, and is only in the divisional round now for the first time since 1994. The Browns’ conference championship game drought goes back 31 years, to a 37-21 loss to the Broncos — after Cleveland beat Buffalo in the divisional round in an incredible duel between two of the era’s best teams not to win a Super Bowl.
The Bills’ run of four straight AFC crowns began the next year, capping a run of eight straight seasons in which Buffalo or Cleveland was in the NFL’s final four every year.
No matter what happens in Kansas City on Sunday, the longest AFC title game drought will still belong to the Seattle Seahawks, who made it in 1983 and haven’t been back since, largely because they moved to the NFC in 2002 and have been to three Super Bowls since then. The longest active stretch without going to an AFC decider will remain with Cincinnati, which beat the Bills in the 1988 game, but if Cleveland does pull off the upset, the only other AFC teams not to play for a conference title this century will be the Dolphins and Texans.
Over in the NFC, the Buccaneers have been to a championship game since 2000… the 2002 edition. The only teams in that conference who haven’t played for a Super Bowl bid for longer are Dallas, last in 1995, and Detroit and Washington, who played each other in the 1991 game.
Was this all just an excuse to go down a YouTube rabbit hole of football from when I was a kid? Obviously not, or I would’ve included the 1990 NFC title game.
And now, a Trevor Bauer item in which no shade is directed at Trevor Bauer.
Congratulations to the Arizona Coyotes on finally bringing in a premier free agent.