The Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars are two of the most miserable franchises in the NFL. The Jaguars are one of four teams with zero Super Bowl appearances and the only team that has fewer than four division titles. The Bills went to four straight Super Bowls and lost them all.
Cheering for either one is bad for your health, but the two fanbases wear suffering like a badge of honor.
So it’s kind of perfect that they’ve spent the last couple years antagonizing each other. There’s a bubbling rivalry between the Bills and Jaguars that’s equal parts sad and hilarious.
In January 2018, the two teams met in the postseason. For the Jaguars, it was the first trip to the playoffs in 10 years. For the Bills, it was 18 — ending the longest drought any NFL team has had in over 30 years.
One season later, both teams were back to losing.
The Jaguars’ win in that playoff game wasn’t the start of the newfound conflict, but it did serve as a launching point for an underrated and petty feud — one that’s hopefully just getting started.
How the Bills and Jaguars became pseudo-rivals
On New Year’s Eve 2014, Doug Marrone opted out of his contract as head coach of the Bills. He did that after leading them to a 9-7 record in 2014 — Buffalo’s first winning season since 2004.
The coaching carousel chews ‘em up and spits ‘em out in the NFL. But a coach choosing to ditch a team with no other job in place was pretty unprecedented. And Bills fans still hold a bit of a grudge.
Some Bills fans loudly informing Doug Marrone that he sucks on his way through the tunnel.— Matthew Fairburn (@MatthewFairburn) November 25, 2018
Marrone didn’t walk right into another job like he probably thought he would when he opted out. He even expressed regret over the decision in 2017.
He ended up spending two seasons as Jacksonville’s offensive line coach before taking over as head coach in 2017. In his first season leading the Jaguars, he helped the team eliminate his old team in the playoffs.
With less than a minute left in that wild card matchup and the Jaguars leading 10-3, Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman needed a touchdown to send the game to overtime. Instead, one of his passes to the right sideline was tipped into the air and intercepted by Jacksonville’s trash-talking cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
It turned out to be the first chapter of a saga of Ramsey annoying the Bills and their fans.
Jalen Ramsey has beef with everyone, but especially Josh Allen
Ramsey has a knack for pissing off damn near everyone. Since he was drafted by Jacksonville in 2016, he’s started beef with Steve Smith, A.J. Green, Tyreek Hill, and about half of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks.
So it makes sense that he’s at the middle of the Bills-Jaguars friction.
No player has been on the receiving end of more disparaging remarks from Ramsey than Bills quarterback Josh Allen. It started with a taunting tweet from Ramsey in May, but things really heated up in August 2018 — just a few months after Allen was drafted by the Bills — in an interview with GQ:
I think [Buffalo Bills draft pick Josh] Allen is trash. I don’t care what nobody say. He’s trash. And it’s gonna show too. That’s a stupid draft pick to me. We play them this year, and I’m excited as hell. I hope he’s their starting quarterback. He played at Wyoming. Every time they played a big school—like, they played Iowa State, which is not a big school in my opinion because I went to Florida State, and he threw five interceptions, and they lost by a couple touchdowns or something like that.✞ He never beat a big school. If you look at his games against big schools, it was always hella interceptions, hella turnovers. It’s like: Yo, if you’re this good, why couldn’t you do better? He fits that mold, he’s a big, tall quarterback. Big arm, supposedly. I don’t see it, personally.
That matchup with the Bills that Ramsey was “excited as hell” about didn’t go as he planned. Allen completed only eight of his 19 passes, but he threw one touchdown pass with no interceptions and racked up 99 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. It was enough for a 24-21 Bills victory.
Ramsey had an interception just before halftime, but it was nullified by a penalty. That didn’t stop him from immediately calling multiple players on the Buffalo sideline “trash.”
Ramsey heard it from Buffalo fans in the fourth quarter.
A 'RAMSEY SUCKS' chant has broken out at New Era Field.— Matthew Fairburn (@MatthewFairburn) November 25, 2018
And after the game, the Bills’ Twitter account was quick to shove Ramsey’s tweet from May in his face.
This tweet didn’t age well. pic.twitter.com/4liA2qJU1n— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 25, 2018
While Ramsey congratulated Allen after the game, the beef started back up in February. In an autograph for a Bills fan, Allen wrote “Hey Ramsey, am I still trash?” Ramsey took to Twitter to clarify that, yep, he still thinks so.
So the feud between the two lives on.
Oh, we got fighting too
Ramsey calling players on the Bills sideline trash wasn’t even close to the most contentious moment of the budding rivalry. In the third quarter of the November matchup, Jaguars receiver Donte Moncrief and Bills defensive back Levi Wallace wrestled over a ball in the end zone.
It set off a shoving match that devolved into a full-blown melee.
That’s a lot of bad blood for two teams that weren’t close to playoff contention in 2018.
Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette and Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson were each ejected. Fournette got a one-game suspension for the altercation.
The battle didn’t stop there, though.
Insert “The Good Josh Allen” to the mix
With the No. 7 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Jaguars drafted Josh Allen. A year prior, the Bills drafted Josh Allen with the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. They have the same name, but the two couldn’t be more different.
The Bills’ Allen wasn’t a particularly impressive quarterback at Wyoming, while the Jaguars’ Allen finished his career as a Kentucky pass rusher with 31.5 sacks and 42 tackles for loss. Buffalo drafted their quarterback for his huge potential, but the Jaguars got the one who was the better player in college.
Josh Allen, the quarterback, finished his rookie year with 10 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. That gave Jaguars fans plenty of ammunition to poke fun at that Josh Allen when they got a Josh Allen of their own.
They wasted no time referring to their new draft pick as “The Good Josh Allen.” They’re even selling t-shirts.
There’s no buyer’s remorse for the Bills, though. Say anything bad about the quarterback and you’ll find out pretty quickly from Buffalo fans that they’re very optimistic about the second-year player. They even have a t-shirt of their own.
His tremendous rushing stats and horrible supporting cast gave Bills fans plenty of reason to feel like they have the good one. The Bills spent the 2019 offseason surrounding Allen with talent, including receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley, as well as a completely rebuilt offensive line.
In most cases, two players with the same name probably wouldn’t be pitted against each other. But the identical draft position combined with these two fanbases means “The Good Josh Allen” debate will live for a long time.
Duval and Bills Mafia are perfect enemies
The two groups are cut from the same cloth, although Buffalo fans might take grudges a little more seriously than the Jaguars faithful.
“On Twitter at least, Jaguars fans are legitimately annoying,” Buffalo Rumblings’ Matt Warren said. “We are capable of ignoring arrogant Patriots fans because, what are you going to say to them? Jaguars fans are different. Jacksonville hasn’t done anything recently, but all last offseason they were gloating like they won the Super Bowl and were set up for years of success.
“There’s a difference in climate, in the length of the franchise history, and seemingly in the people that root for the teams. ... And, we think the Duval chant is obnoxious all on its own.”
For Jaguars fans — a group without much historical success to cling to — just annoying another fanbase can be a way to have fun.
“It seemed to really flair up when they hired Doug Marrone as an OL coach when he rightfully dumped them,” Big Cat Country’s Alfie Crow said. “Then when he got hired as the head coach, there wasn’t a Bills fan who didn’t give you their unsolicited opinion on Marrone. So it kind of went from there, culminating in dumping them out of the playoffs in their first playoff game in like 20 years.
“I’m not sure why Bills fans hate Jaguars fans, I think we think it’s weird and funny that they get so mad.”
And ultimately, that’s why the young rivalry is so fantastic. The Jaguars won a grand total of 22 games over a six-season span between 2011 and 2016. The Bills just snapped a playoff drought that dated back to Bill Clinton’s presidency.
There aren’t a whole lot of fanbases that are more used to dealing with disappointment. And the two handle that pain in awfully similar ways.
Both are self-deprecating and find a way to have fun even when their team doesn’t provide much of a reason. Both are ready to grab torches and pitchforks when they or their favorite team gets disrespected.
The Jaguars and Bills aren’t even scheduled to face each other in 2019 — and you definitely shouldn’t count on a playoff meeting — but there’s no reason to believe this rivalry is going anywhere. Marrone is still the Jaguars’ coach, Jalen Ramsey isn’t going to stop talking, and the fanbases will keep being their combative selves.
Duval vs. Bills Mafia is going to live on, one way or another — and we should all enjoy it.