The 2004 NFL simulation throws a major surprise as the Buffalo Bills roll through a 15-1 regular season and throughout the postseason.
How could the Bills and their circa-2000s CFL outfits crash the party against the traditional 2000s powers of the AFC? It takes a closer look at the stats to answer the question.
In the actual season, the Bills started 0-4 but then caught fire and were in position to claim a playoff berth in Week 17 with a home win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers rested most of their starters, but the game proved as the breakout of Fast Willie Parker. The Steelers won to knock Buffalo out of the postseason.
The Bills finished with an actual point differential of 111, good for fifth in the AFC and sixth for the entire NFL.
Per Wikipedia, a publication called Football Outsiders deemed the 2004 Bills as the best NFL team since 1990 to fail to make the playoffs according to their metrics. Pro-Football-Reference also scores the Bills with an expected W-L record of 11-5, two games better than their actual 9-7 campaign.
So the Bills faux Super Bowl XXXIX title does not come as a total fluke.
Other highlights of the ’04 season include the following:
- Just two years after winning a faux Super Bowl XXXVII, the Miami Dolphins finish 0-16.
- The other AFC playoff participants provided few surprises, the Steelers, Colts and Chargers won division titles while the Jets and Patriots earned Wild Card berths with 12-4 records.
- The NFC proved much weaker, the actual NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles finished 13-3, three games ahead of other conference teams in the sim.
- The Seattle Seahawks make ‘history’ with their NFC West championship with a 7-9 record, a feat they also recorded in real-life in 2010.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their third faux NFC Championship in five years, but fell meekly to the Atlanta Falcons 10-0, with Brian Griese throwing four interceptions. The ATL also won in Philadelphia in the divisional round in a reprise of the actual 2004 NFC Championship.
- In their loss to Buffalo in the AFC Championship, rookie Ben Roethlisberger went 6-22 for 47 yards and two interceptions.
- The best rushing day of the season belonged to Kansas City’s Priest Holmes, who rushed for 285 yards in a game v. the Carolina Panthers.
- The Bills appeared in their fifth title game in the sim, winning their second championship. The Falcons first-ever appearance leaves the Buccaneers, Jaguars, Titans and Texans as the lone teams not to make a sim Super Bowl.