ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- In a 2019 playoff landscape that features previous Super Bowl champions and NFL MVPs, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen stands out as a developing player making his first postseason start.
Allen isn't the most proven or accomplished quarterback in this playoff field, but as the Bills (10-6) prepare for Saturday's AFC wild-card game at the Houston Texans (4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN), the second-year quarterback is focused on what he can do for his team -- not what his counterparts have done for theirs.
"I don't have to be the best quarterback out there," Allen said. "I have to be the best quarterback for this team and help us win a football game -- regardless of the circumstances that go on during the game. I got to be able to lead this team and find a way."
Allen is off to a promising start as tries to become the franchise's first long-term answer at quarterback since Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season. Allen led the Bills to their first 10-win season this century -- a drought that began when Tom Brady was a senior at Michigan.
Only time will tell if Allen and the Bills can overtake Brady's New England Patriots as the AFC East's dominant team, but the young QB has a chance to start building his postseason legacy Saturday, and his teammates already respect him as a leader.
Buffalo's John Brown, a sixth-year wide receiver who played with another first-year playoff starter last season (Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson), said Allen hasn't shown signs of nervousness in practices this week. On the contrary, Brown sees relaxed confidence from Allen.
"Josh, he's more focused right now. I think he's treating it like another game, not trying to put too much pressure on himself," Brown said. "The way he carries himself, you can see the confidence and you can see the excitement -- going to the playoffs for the first time in his second year.
"You've just got to stay calm. There's going to be a lot of turns in the game, it's going to be a different type of atmosphere, a different type of playing style, a lot of players running to the ball. It's win or go home. ... I'm excited for him."
The recent track record for quarterbacks making their postseason debut isn't great. Quarterbacks in their first playoff start are 5-15 since 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Dating to 2000, the record is 26-42.
However, Buffalo -- despite being a three-point road underdog -- matches up well with Houston (10-6), which owns the NFL's 13th-ranked offense in terms of yards per game and 14th-best scoring offense. The Bills' 16.2 points allowed per game ranks second in the league and their improving defense could pose trouble for Houston, so the key for Buffalo will be whether Allen can take advantage of the Texans' 28th-ranked defense. Buffalo averaged 19.6 points per game (tied for 23rd) and hasn't topped 20 points since beating Dallas 26-17 on Thanksgiving.
The game plan is no different than Buffalo's previous 16 games -- establish the running game with rookie tailback Devin Singletary, protect the ball and capitalize on scoring opportunities. What is different is the atmosphere around One Bills Drive. Bill defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier reminded "everything shrinks" -- the Bills are the NFL's main attraction Saturday afternoon.
After playing in four widely televised games in the past five weeks, Allen seems accustomed to the spotlight.
"It's the same game we've been playing since the beginning of the year -- still the game of football," Allen said. "The dimensions are the same. We've had the same plays that we had all year, we're not trying to do anything different. We're not trying to switch up practice routines.
"You dance with who brought you. We got to go out there and execute -- that is what it comes down to. ... Trust the game plan that Coach put in and go from there."
Bills coach Sean McDermott says he has seen growth in Allen and appreciates his quarterback's grasp of the team's playoff aspirations.
"He's made a jump this year and a big part of one's success starts with self-awareness -- where are you good, what do you need to work on, how you respond to certain situations?" McDermott said.
"At the end of the day, he's got to trust himself, trust his teammates and do what's asked -- do his 1/11th."