Josh Allen will be under contract with the Buffalo Bills through 2022 after the team exercised their fifth-year option.

The quarterback was drafted by the Bills in 2018 and has since established himself as one of the NFL's outstanding dual-threats.

Allen has thrown for 9,707 yards, 67 touchdowns and 31 interceptions across 44 games and 43 starts, although the bulk of his yards (4,544) and scores (37) came last season.

The former seventh overall pick, who also has 25 career rushing TDs, led Buffalo to the AFC Championship Game in 2020 where they were beaten by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Allen's completion percentage of 72.8 ranked fourth in the league last year, while he led the NFL at 80.2 when throwing without pressure.

The option in his rookie deal would see Allen earn around $23million in 2022 before becoming an unrestricted free agent – a situation the franchise will be desperate to avoid.

The Bills have also agreed to pay middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, another 2018 first-round selection.

Edmunds is set for $12.7m in 2022, although Buffalo will be expected to negotiate a contract extension before that option kicks in.

The Bills traded up six places to take Edmunds in 2018 after he had 10.0 sacks across his final two college seasons with Virginia Tech.

Although Edmunds has been a Pro Bowl selection in each of the past two years, he has contributed to a defense that has struggled to disrupt opposing passers.

Edmunds only successfully pressured QBs on 7.7 per cent of pass rush attempts last season – the fourth-worst pressure rate among linebackers with 10 or more attempts – and Buffalo's failure to get to grips with Patrick Mahomes led to their playoff exit.

The team spent their first and second-round 2021 draft picks on edge rushers Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr.

The NFL Draft looms large on the horizon as rosters continue to take shape ahead of the 2021 season.

Some big offseason moves have already threatened to alter the landscape of the league, even boosting the championship hopes of teams who missed out on the playoffs in 2020.

Most notably, the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins will each feel they won a trade that saw the number three overall pick sent to the NFC West team in exchange for assets including multiple future first-rounders.

The Niners will get a look at one of the top quarterbacks in an exciting class as they aim to challenge again following an injury ravaged campaign, while the Dolphins can now surround starter Tua Tagovailoa with talent in year two and beyond.

But what of the teams who were already Super Bowl contenders?

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers reached the NFC Championship Game and the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills advanced in the AFC, pre-game predictions could scarcely separate the four.

It was the Bucs who ultimately prevailed, progressing past Green Bay before beating the Chiefs at Super Bowl LV, but their rivals will expect to be in the mix again.

Although chaos higher up in the draft could see plans quickly go out the window, we assess where the Bucs, Packers, Chiefs and Bills might be looking next week - with the help of Stats Perform data.
 

Green Bay Packers

All four of these teams will have interesting options in the first round as the early rush for quarterbacks leaves great depth at several other positions across the board. But the Packers, picking 29th, would be wise to think about how they might help Aaron Rodgers.

The veteran QB was understandably surprised last year when, rather than recruiting help, Green Bay drafted another passer in the first round. Jordan Love did not take a single snap all season long.

Packers wide receiver Davante Adams led the league in receiving touchdowns (18) and ranked fourth for targets (149), joint-second for catches (115) and joint-fifth for receiving yards (1,374), despite playing only 14 games. However, Rodgers clearly lacked a second WR option, with tight end Robert Tonyan's 11 TDs coming on just 59 targets.

There should be no shortage of prospects available to Green Bay, with Elijah Moore - ranked first in the FBS with 149.1 yards per game for Ole Miss - a good fit in the slot.

Yet the team have not selected a receiver in the first round since before Rodgers was drafted, while Adams, in 2014, was the last WR taken higher than the fourth round.

Defensive reinforcements may be more likely over the first two days of the draft. A linebacker like Zaven Collins - four interceptions last season for Tulsa - or a cornerback such as Caleb Farley - falling following back surgery - could be called in the first round, with a later punt on a potential WR project following.
 

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo's needs are two-fold as they aim to give QB Josh Allen the platform to contend with Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady again.

The Bills ranked fourth in the NFL in 2020 for yards per attempt but 20th for rushing average (4.19). Allen contributed 421 of their 1,723 total rushing yards and half of their 16 rushing TDs.

Neither Devin Singletary (156 carries for 687 yards and two TDs) nor Zack Moss (112 carries for 481 yards and four TDs) look capable of being a game-changer on the ground, while the best running backs in the class may well still be on the board at number 30.

Alabama's Najee Harris, who led the FBS with 26 rushing scores, is an obvious standout.

Yet Buffalo's issues against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game came as they failed to disrupt Mahomes, who was sacked only once and threw three TDs and no interceptions.

The Bills were in the middle of the pack for sacks (38, tied 15th) and hurries (163, 17th) and could use someone on the edge, particularly with Jerry Hughes - the man who sacked Mahomes - turning 33 in August.
 

Kansas City Chiefs

If the playoffs made the shortcomings for Buffalo clear, Kansas City's flaws were even more blatant. The best QB in football was helpless in the Super Bowl.

Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, the Chiefs' starting tackles, missed the big game through injury and Mahomes was sacked three times, throwing two picks and no TDs. The pair have each since been released, too, increasing the team's need at the position.

Arrivals Joe Thuney, who allowed 0.5 sacks last season, and Kyle Long, back out of retirement, are not best suited to playing outside. Kansas City would ideally find both a right and left tackle in this draft.

They should have no shortage of options, with a number of prospects mooted as potential picks. Teven Jenkins, out of Oklahoma State, can play either side and would be a popular signing.
 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs are in a truly unenviable position in that they have no positions of major need.

Some defensive end depth would be nice, but this unit pressured Mahomes into submission. The team ranked second for both hurries (182) and knockdowns (115). Linebacker Shaquil Barrett alone had 13 Super Bowl pressures.

Or how about a receiver to deliver the late-season impact provided by Antonio Brown? He had only four starts yet scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl triumph. Of course, he could also still return.

The rest of the title-winning roster from last year is back, meaning Tampa Bay remain in 'win now' mode and can simply look to pick up the best player left on the board at pick 32.

That might mean a RB like Harris, while the Bucs would have little to lose in taking a flier on Farley, despite his fitness concerns, if he falls to them.

Josh Allen "didn't perform well enough" for the Buffalo Bills as they missed out on a place in the Super Bowl with a 38-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Bills quarterback Allen completed 28 of 48 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC Championship Game, while he rushed for 88 yards on seven carries.

However, an interception at the start of the fourth quarter preceded a Kansas City touchdown on the next drive to put the Chiefs out of sight.

Allen felt he forced things at times and was frustrated the Bills twice settled for field goals despite being within the Chiefs' 10-yard line.

"We didn't execute how we should've. I didn't perform well enough for this team. You're going against the reigning Super Bowl champs, who were 15-1, the number one seed at Arrowhead, if you're not going to have your A game, you're not going to win the game. That's what it was," he said.

"A couple of decisions early on, trying to press in the second half, I got things going a little bit better, but our red zone efficiency settled for field goals and you've got to score touchdowns against these guys. That's basically it.

"In the first half, I thought we moved the ball well, or well enough. We got down into the red zone and couldn't get the ball into the endzone.

"We got down there, threw an interception, a couple of bad decisions on my part. Just the communication aspect of it too. They did a good job of being able to check out their blitzes, not really allow us any time to get back to what we were originally going to run.

"Again, it comes down to decision making and putting the ball where it needed to be and I didn't do that well enough tonight."

Asked if he was pushing to go for touchdowns on the fourth downs inside the Chief's 10-yard line, he added: "I mean, that's the coach's decision. We had three downs to get in there prior and we didn't do our job.

"Like I said, lack of communication, lack of execution down there and it falls on our shoulders."

Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott admitted with the benefit of hindsight that he might have tried his luck in one of those instances.

"I thought about it in both occasions really. Maybe if I had to do it all over again, I would have maybe went for one of them," he said.

"The one before the half for sure. I wanted to get points. We were having trouble coming up with points and I wanted to have something to show for it going into the half, especially knowing they were getting the ball after half.

"I will look back at that and I will re-evaluate, especially the one after the half there. As a team, we will learn from this experience."

There were several confrontations towards the end of the game, with Allen sparking one by throwing the ball at the head of Alex Okafor.

Allen regretted letting his emotions get to him but feels confident Buffalo will not have to experience another 27-year wait to reach this stage again.

"It's going to fuel us, I have no doubt in my mind that we will be back. This is a team that fought hard to the end, a team that loves each other," he said.

"We're still young and we're only going to get better. That's one thing I got from this. We're close."

The Kansas City Chiefs host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday to find out who will represent the AFC in Super Bowl LV.

This will be just the third time that teams with 13 or more regular season wins each have met in the conference’s championship game, the others seeing the Jaguars take on the Titans in 1999 and then the Steelers against the Patriots five years later.

Kansas City are the reigning champions and the top seeds, yet they go into the game with a major injury cloud over their superstar quarterback. Patrick Mahomes was unable to finish the Divisional Round win over the Cleveland Browns due to a concussion in the third quarter, leaving Chad Henne to see the team over the line.

A second-round pick in 2008, Henne experienced both highs and lows during his first playoff experience. He would definitely have wanted to try again with a deep throw that was intercepted, yet he also completed a key fourth-down pass that sealed a 22-17 triumph.

Mahomes has been limited in practice as he goes through the NFL's concussion protocols but it is hoped he will be fit to face the Bills, who have no such concerns over the health of starter Josh Allen.

Quarterbacks in the spotlight

The showdown will potentially be the second all-time meeting in the conference championship round between starting quarterbacks aged 25 or younger, the other coming back in 1979 when Vince Ferragamo and the Rams went up against Doug Williams' Buccaneers in the NFC. This will be the second meeting between the teams this season, though. Back in Week 6, Buffalo suffered their only home loss as the visiting Chiefs prevailed 26-17, though Mahomes was happy to play a supporting role as the visitors piled up 245 yards rushing.

Super Bowl heartache

The Bills will be confident they can avenge that October defeat on the road, particularly after an impressive display from their defense in the 17-3 victory over the Baltimore Ravens last time out. Buffalo allowed the fewest number of points in a playoff game since 1992, in a period when the franchise was hugely successful under head coach Marv Levy. Indeed, they are the only team ever to win conference title games in four straight years, from 1990-93. A Super Bowl triumph eluded them back then, but could this finally be their year? If they want to keep their hopes alive in 2021, they will surely need to be more proficient at running the ball this week, having posted a season-low 32 yards on the ground against the Ravens.

Too tight to call?

The Chiefs - appearing in the AFC Championship decider for a third straight year - have made a habit of being involved in close encounters during this campaign. Andy Reid's team have come out on top in eight of their last nine outings, though all those victories have come by six or fewer points, the longest single-season streak in NFL history (including playoffs) of wins by six points or less. The numbers suggest we could be in for further drama this weekend, while Mahomes' availability could prove crucial in deciding who ends up lifting the Lamar Hunt Trophy at Arrowhead Stadium.

Josh Allen praised Buffalo's defense after the Bills clinched a place in the AFC Championship Game - then revealed how he played a part in Taron Johnson's record-tying touchdown.

The Bills overcame the Baltimore Ravens 17-3 on Saturday to progress in the NFL playoffs, quarterback Allen throwing a touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs in what was a hard-fought victory.

That score put Buffalo 10-3 ahead in the third quarter, though the Ravens threatened to respond with a drive of their own that put them in range to score.

However, cornerback Johnson picked off a pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson in the end zone and then returned the ball 101 yards, creating clear daylight between the teams in a low-scoring contest.

Buffalo will be involved in the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1994; they will either travel to the Kansas City Chiefs or host the Cleveland Browns next Sunday.

"This was a fun one to be part of. There are some things we can clean up but, at the end of the day, it's the playoffs: you win or go home," Allen told the media.

"Our defense stepped up. Taron Johnson made the play that just changed the game. Unbelievable.

"We've got to turn our focus to the Browns or Chiefs next week - and that's what we were going to do."

Johnson tied the NFL record for the longest interception return for a touchdown in a playoff game, matching Green Bay's George Teague, who achieved the feat for the Packers in the 1993 Wild Card round against the Detroit Lions.

Allen divulged how he played a minor role in helping his team-mate produce a play that will live long in the memory.

"I saw him come out of the end zone with a lot of bodies around him, and usually you want them to stay in. I thought he was going to get tackled at the five or the 10," he said.

"I tell you what, for Tre'Davious White to go ahead and get a block on Lamar, spring him free, was unbelievable. You practice for those situations.

"I'm going to give myself a pat on the back, as in practice I go up behind him and try to punch the ball out. So Taron had that extra sense to look back, feel that someone was coming and to hold onto the ball.

"It was an unbelievable play, one of those that will be remembered for a really long time."

The Buffalo Bills booked their spot in the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1994 thanks to a 17-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Not since reaching Super Bowl XXVII had the Bills featured in the AFC title decider, but second-seeded Buffalo ended that 27-year drought after downing the Ravens on Saturday.

The Bills used a 14-0 third quarter to progress in the NFL playoffs as the Ravens – seeded fifth – were held scoreless in the second half in windy Buffalo.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen finished 23-of-37 passing for 206 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, while he was sacked twice.

Ravens star Lamar Jackson was 14 of 24 for 162 yards, no touchdowns and an interception before he was ruled out with concussion against the Bills.

The Ravens were made to pay for their inefficient kicking in the opening quarter, which saw Justin Tucker miss two field goals.

Tucker was 11-of-11 on field-goal attempts inside 50 yards in his postseason career, but he was 0-2 on such field goals against Buffalo.

Buffalo's Tyler Bass also missed a field goal, but he managed to convert a 28-yard attempt to give the Bills a 3-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Tucker made no mistake from 34 yards to level the scores at half-time before the Bills took control in the third quarter.

Allen threw a three-yard pass to star team-mate Stefon Diggs with less than 10 minutes to play and Taron Johnson all but ended Baltimore's hopes with a dazzling 101-yard interception return during the closing stages of the period.

Reigning MVP Jackson was ruled out of the fourth quarter due to concussion after taking a hit from Bills defensive end Trent Murphy on the final play of the third period.

 

Turning point – Bills pull away in third

The Bills and Ravens could not be separated until the game was blown open in the third quarter.

Allen and Diggs combined for the showdown's first TD before Johnson's electric run essentially sealed Baltimore's fate in front of 6,700 fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson matches record

Buffalo's Johnson tied the record for longest intercepted return touchdown in a playoff game, according to NFL Research. Green Bay Packers defensive end George Teague also returned an interception 101 yards for a TD against the Detroit Lions in 1993.

Per Stats Perform, the Bills-Ravens game became the first postseason game where there were three missed field goals in the first half since the 1992 AFC Championship Game between the Bills and Denver Broncos.

What's next?

Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs or Cleveland Browns are next up for the Bills in the AFC Championship Game on January 24.

The Ravens, meanwhile, will have a busy offseason following back-to-back exits in the Divisional Round.

The Wild Card Round was, well, wild.

The Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns ended long postseason droughts, while the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens impressed as they produced upset results on the road.

Meanwhile, Tom Brady made sure the Tampa Bay Buccaneers progressed, securing a showdown with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints that will be an all-NFC South battle between starting quarterbacks with a combined age is 85.

As for the Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning Super Bowl champions - along with NFC top seeds the Green Bay Packers - prepare to return to action after a well-earned bye week.

A four-game schedule has all the potential for another bumper weekend of NFL action, with fans watching on to found out who will be the final four left standing in the playoffs.

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers - Saturday, 4.35pm (all times Eastern)

- The Rams are the only current NFC team with an all-time winning record against the Packers (46-45-2), but they have lost five of the previous six and 11 of the past 15 meetings. Green Bay, meanwhile, earned the No.1 seed in the conference for just the third time in their history.

- Aaron Rodgers posted the second-highest passer rating in NFL history this season (121.5), trailing only his own 122.5 in 2011, when he was voted the league's MVP. Rodgers had six games with four or more touchdown passes and zero interceptions, tying the most in a season all-time (Peyton Manning in 2013). In Rodgers' playoff career, the Packers are 8-1 when he does not throw an interception - but 2-7 when he does.

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills - Saturday, 8.15pm

- Baltimore (191.9) and Tennessee (168.1) finished first and second in the NFL in rushing yards per game in the regular season, but the Ravens out-rushed the Titans 236-51 last week to progress. Lamar Jackson ran for 136 of them, the third most ever by a quarterback in a playoff game.

- Josh Allen completed 26 of 35 passes in the Wild Card win over the Indianapolis Colts (74.0 per cent), the highest completion percentage by a Bills starting QB in a playoff game. Allen also became the fifth player in NFL history with a passing TD, a rushing TD and a receiving TD in the playoffs, joining Freeman McNeil, Kordell Stewart, Julian Edelman and Nick Foles.

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs - Sunday, 3.05pm

- This is the first postseason game between the teams. The Chiefs have won the past three meetings, most recently on November 4, 2018 (37-21). In fact, Cleveland have not beaten Kansas City since December 2012, while they have triumphed at Arrowhead only once in the past 32 seasons (December 2009).

- Against the Steelers, Baker Mayfield became the seventh player in league history to throw at least three TD passes without an interception in his postseason debut. Only one other player has done this in the previous 15 years (Alex Smith in 2011). He goes up against Patrick Mahomes, who has accounted for 16 total touchdowns – 13 TD passes and three rushing scores – in five postseason outings.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints - Sunday, 6.40pm

- This will be the 59th all-time meeting of these franchises, albeit the first in the postseason. The Saints have won five straight in the rivalry, outscoring the Bucs by a combined 165-81 during that streak.

- Brady's two touchdown passes against the Washington Football Team moved his career postseason total to 75, while the victory was his 31st in 42 career playoff starts. In the entire NFL, only five teams have as many as 31 postseason wins in their history. Brady (341) and Saints QB Brees (303) rank first and third respectively in career starts among quarterbacks, regular season and playoffs combined.

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