After returning to the playoffs for the first time this century in 2017, last season was a step back for the Buffalo Bills. In 2018, the Bills went 6-10. Six of their losses were by double digits. Their schedule was difficult with seven games against eventual playoff teams. The first half of their season was the more challenging half as they had to play the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers to begin the season. In a four-game stretch, Buffalo faced the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, and Chicago Bears. All four made the playoffs last season and were among the best teams in the NFL. This team has a lot of young talent and potential, and I believe will be a team to watch out for in 2019
Beware of The Buffalo Bills
Schedule Should Be Easier
In the first half of the 2019 season, the Bills only play two playoff teams from 2018. Besides the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, their first-half schedule should be manageable. In the first four weeks, they don’t have to travel far as they open with the New York Jets and New York Giants on the road. Their next two games are at home against the Cincinnati Bengals and Patriots before two games against the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins. This stretch to begin the season should give them some easy wins and momentum which could decide if they make the playoffs. I believe they can win at least five of these games and starting the season 5-3 gives them a solid chance at a postseason berth.
Their schedule gets harder in the second half, with arguably the most difficult final five games. Only two of these games are at home, but four of their last five opponents made the playoffs last year. The stretch begins on the road at the Dallas Cowboys before they host the Baltimore Ravens. They travel to face the Pittsburgh Steelers and Patriots before finishing at home vs the Jets. If they are still in the playoff hunt, they will almost certainly need to win three of these games. I could see them winning three, however, it’s going to be difficult to pull it off. It’s crucial they get off to a strong start, if they don’t it’s highly unlikely they can recover enough to make the playoffs.
Up and Coming Offense
The Bills have pieces on both sides of the ball that look promising for the future. Josh Allen surprised fans with his mobility and playmaking last season, rushing for 631 yards and eight touchdowns. His passing numbers weren’t great, only throwing for 2,074 yards and ten touchdowns in 11 starts. Not every rookie quarterback puts up incredible numbers in year one, so expect these numbers to naturally increase.
Frank Gore continues to produce despite turning 36 this offseason. Last year with the Dolphins he rushed for 722 yards in a limited role. He is no longer the featured back, however, he can still produce and contribute despite his age. Devin Singletary has been getting a lot of praise as a rookie and should be a key contributor this season. Bills head coach Sean McDermott said of his preseason performance that “It’s preseason so we have to take that with a little bit of a grain of salt. But it’s a projection, showing our confidence in a young player we feel can ascend and develop. That’s what we do as coaches.”
Zay Jones and newly acquired John Brown should both help Allen take a step forward. Jones led Buffalo last season with 652 yards and seven touchdowns. Brown had 715 yards and five touchdowns with the Ravens in 2018. Cole Beasley has been a solid slot receiver for a while, last season finishing with 672 yards for Dallas. PFF ranked the Bills offensive line 19th heading into 2019. They said that “Few offensive lines have as high of a ceiling and as low of a floor as the Buffalo Bills’.”
Young Defense With Potential
Buffalo’s defense gave up the second-fewest yards in 2018 only trailing Baltimore. They were also second in average yards per game. The Bills led the NFL in passing yards per game only surrendering 179.2. While their pass defense was among the best, their run defense wasn’t as dominant. Buffalo was 16th in run defense, however, Ed Oliver should immediately help to improve that number.
Tremaine Edmunds had 121 tackles as a rookie and should continue his success in 2019. Jerry Hughes led the Bills with seven sacks and Lorenzo Alexander had 6.5. Tre’Davious White took a slight dip in year two, however, he should get back to his 2017 form where he was among the league’s best.
Buffalo Bills Season Outlook
It’s’ going to be difficult for Buffalo to return to the playoffs in 2019. Their schedule gets harder as the season progresses, and I don’t know if they can survive it. Last season they finished 6-10, I expect this to improve by at least 2-3 wins. The Bills are a talented football team, if they can take a step forward they could be a playoff contender for years to come. Eventually, the Patriots dynasty will come to an end, and Buffalo is currently the best team to overtake them in the AFC East once that happens. The future looks bright for the Bills, don’t be surprised if they make some noise in the near future.
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