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From playoff caliber to Super Bowl caliber, Bills change the narrative

After clinching their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons, the Bills are heading in with a new chip on their shoulders.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The narrative has changed around One Bills Drive, from playoff caliber, to championship caliber. Quite literally, too, the team put up new stickers to remind players how far they've come. 

With the Bills clinching their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons, adding in playing some of their best football of the season, it's clear this team is ready to make a postseason run. 

Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver commented on the mentality of the team after getting so acclimated to victory.

"When you were as good as you were last year, 13-3, you get accustomed to winning, and not just winning, but winning," he said.

Yes, Oliver said "winning" twice.

The Bills are riding a three-game winning streak with an opportunity to close out the division at home, something they haven't done since the 1995 season, when they defeated the Miami Dolphins and Rich Stadium in Week 17.

Going forward, they know it's time to take it up a notch and kick into full playoff mode with nothing guaranteed after their regular season finale versus the New York Jets. 

“When everyone knows what is expected, they can be the best version of themselves, as much as possible. I think that moving that up to the next level is what is right to do. We accomplished that playoff standard, now everyone has to know what, in order to get where we are trying to get to, it is going to take more,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. 

Bills tight end Dawson Knox understands the task at hand. 

“Taking the next step, playoff-caliber is what we aspire for all year," he said. "And now that we have clinched the playoffs, the goal is to go win a championship. Every detail has to be that much more important to you. You have to be locked in and can't skim meetings and walkthroughs."

As far as the Bills being able to make a deep postseason run, they need to take care of business on Sunday to guarantee a home playoff game in the wild card round.

From there, anything can happen, but heading into the playoffs losing to a 4-12 team, and then having to travel given the current elements of the world, it could be taxing and unnecessary for a team that controls their own destiny. With all of that being said, the picture should be much more clear come Sunday night. 

Bills quarterback Josh Allen addressed the natural progression of the franchise as a whole being a clear playoff contender.

"Winning is not easy in this league. You need to celebrate it when you can, but at the same time, we are not just hoping to get into the playoffs," Allen said. "Our main goal at the start of the season is to give us the best chance to win the Super Bowl, and yes, to get the Super Bowl, you have to make the playoffs, so we accomplished that goal, but we have loftier ones ahead of us."

As they should. Aiming for anything less than a Super Bowl victory would be a disappointment for the fan base and the organization, a night-and-day difference before McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane took over. It really shows how much things can change when you put the right energy in the building and leave the big decisions up to the people who know what they are doing.

Buffalo would shock absolutely no one if it ended up making the Super Bowl. But Kansas City is playing its best football of the year by far, the Tennessee Titans are scheduled to get running back Derrick Henry back in time for a playoff run, and the Cincinnati Bengals have been one of the hottest teams in the entire NFL over the past month.

This may actually be the toughest AFC playoff picture in the past 10 years.