NFL Preview- Buffalo Bills
As we close out the AFC East, we reach Western New York and the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have yet to find a franchise quarterback since the day Jim Kelly retired. They are hoping they have found their guy in E.J. Manuel. The Bills have also missed the playoffs for over a decade and haven’t truly challenged for one during that time.
The Bills are banking that Manuel will remain healthy the full season because there isn’t a lot of options behind him. Backing up Manuel is Jeff Tuel, followed by Dennis Dixon. With Stevie Johnson gone from Buffalo, Manuel will have to rely on a lot of young and unproven wide receivers. Their top returning receiving threat is third-year man Robert Woods. The Bills did draft Sammy Watkins in the first round and figure he will be their top receiver for the next several years, at least.
If the Bills have a position they can rely on, it is at running back where they field C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Both RBs are capable of reaching 1,000 yards rushing. Scott Chandler is being heavily relied on as another target in the passing at tight end.
On defense, the Bills are led by linebacker Kiko Alonso. The middle of the line is beefed up by Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. Mario Williams leads the pass rush at defensive end.
Let’s breakdown their 2014 season:
Week 1- Tough schedule will make for a long season for Buffalo. Started the season in Chicago doesn’t help at all. Buffalo starts the year 0-1.
Week 2- The Bills host Miami for their home opener. Unfortunately, Ryan Tannehill is just a bit more prepared than Manuel. Bills stay winless at 0-2.
Week 3- They remain at home, but get a tough San Diego Chargers. Still no wins for Buffalo, 0-3.
Week 4- The Bills take their show on the road to Houston and former starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The combo of Spiller and Jackson bests Houston’s workhorse Arian Foster. Bills get their first win, 1-3.
Week 5- A back and forth game looms in Detroit, but the Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson connection gets the better outcome. Buffalo drops to 1-4.
Week 6- Life gets harder as the Bills host New England. While they always play the Patriots tough, they don’t have enough to beat them. Bills now 1-5.
Week 7- They stay home for the Adrian Peterson-led Minnesota Vikings. With the Vikings unsure who their QB will be, Buffalo gets the win, improving to 2-5.
Week 8- The Bills travel to New Jersey to visit the New York Jets. The Jets running game and improved passing game lead to another Bills’ loss. They drop to 2-6.
Week 9- An extremely needed bye week arrives for Buffalo.
Week 10- Buffalo returns from their bye to face Kansas City. The ever-dangerous Chiefs pass rush will make for a long day for Manuel and company. Bills fall to 2-7.
Week 11- The Bills continue their losing ways in Miami, getting swept by the Dolphins. They are now 2-8.
Week 12- At home against the Jets, they are swept by another division opponent. Buffalo drops to 2-9.
Week 13- Buffalo then hosts the improving Cleveland Browns. The rush of the home crowd makes the difference. Bills improve to 3-9.
Week 14- The Bills go to Denver and a spanking at the hands of the Broncos. They fall to 3-10.
Week 15- While they return home this week, they do so against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Buffalo drops to 3-11.
Week 16- With no home games left, Buffalo travels to Oakland and squeak out a victory. They improve to 4-11.
Week 17- Unfortunately for the Bills, they have to travel to New England to face a Patriots team figthing for playoff positioning. The Bills finish the year at 4-12.
The two games against the Dolphins and the road game in Detroit could change if Manuel’s maturity has grown furhter than I believe it has grown. That could lead Buffalo to a 6-10 record possibly, but they could get worse and finish 3-13.