Toronto’s Closest NFL Teams: Who Should You Support?

Toronto has long been awaiting a chance to prove its sports credentials on the world stage – and the world is waiting eagerly to see them. Amid all the hoopla surrounding the Raptors and the Maple Leafs, the city’s football fans often struggle to find a team to support. But fear not, for there are a few franchises that are close enough to The Six that might just coax you to don their colors. 

But with so many teams to choose from, who should you support? And what are the chances that Toronto will get its own NFL franchise in the coming years? Let’s take a look. 

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills are the closest team to Toronto and have even played a few games in the city in the past. They lost to the Miami Dolphins inside the Rogers Centre back in 2008 in front of more than 52,000 fans in 2008, before playing five more games in Ontario over the next few years. However, as they lost five of the six total games they played in the city, the Bills hierarchy ensured that the aptly named “Toronto Series” was promptly cancelled. 

At present, the New York state side is a team on the rise, with a dynamic young quarterback in Josh Allen and an innovative head coach in Sean McDermott at the forefront of their success. They have reached the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, even making it as far as the AFC Championship game back in 2020. 

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Unfortunately, that would end in defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs, as would their postseason run the following year, but this time in the Divisional Round. Last season, the Bills were Lombardi favourites all year long, but they were downed by Joe Burrow and his Cincinnati Bengals, with the NFL already selling tickets to a neutral venue conference championship battle between the defeated Bills and the Chiefs. Don’t worry Joe, they sent those refunds

This term, it looked as though Allen and Co. would miss out on the postseason. However, in recent weeks they have managed to reel off victory after victory against some heavyweight outfits, including three wins on the spin against the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, and Dallas Cowboys. That has prompted NFL odds providers to slash their odds on Super Bowl success right down to +1200, and they may very well be on the brink of vanquishing the demons of the 1990s. 

Back then, they became the first – and till this day only – team to reach four straight Super Bowls. However, inexplicably, they lost all four. 

Detroit Lions

The closest NFL teams to Toronto are the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions. The Bills are only a two-hour drive from Toronto, which makes it a perfect option for fans who want to catch their games live. That’s not to say that the Motor City side is too far off, it is only around a three-hour drive from The Six. So, both teams are viable options.

In contrast to the Bills’ relative success both in the ‘90s and over the course of the last half-decade, the Lions have only reached the postseason three times since the turn of the millennium. And to make matters worse, you have to go right the way back to January 1992 for their last postseason victory. They do, however, have four NFL championships to their name, but all of those victories came before the inaugural Super Bowl back in 1967. 

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The Lions may not have the same level of success as the Bills, but they have a few exciting players on their roster, all coming into their prime at the perfect time. Quarterback Jarred Goff and wide receiver Kenny Golladay are testament to that. Supporting the Lions would also give Toronto fans some bragging rights over their friends in Buffalo, as the Lions and Bills have a bit of a rivalry going. And this season – up until the last three weeks anyway – the Michigan side has had the bragging rights. 

Last season, they showed that they were on the cusp of a breakout year when a final-day victory on the road at the Green Bay Packers stopped their greatest rivals from reaching the postseason. However, no Ford Field attendee could have ever expected how the current campaign would play out. Goff and Co. picked up a one-point victory against the reigning champion Chiefs at Arrowhead on the opening day of the campaign and never looked back. 

They have piled up further wins since and currently sit with a record of 10-4, joint second best in the NFC alongside the Eagles and the Cowboys, and just one win behind the Lombardi favourite San Francisco 49ers. They looked poised to win the NFC North for the first time in history and secure divisional honours for the first time in over three decades. But they still remain outsiders to actually lift the Lombardi this season.