Coming off what amounted to a rock-solid season in 2019 for the Buffalo Bills, expectations have risen for the franchise that has struggled to maintain success throughout the last couple of decades.
Fans are looking at the schedule, as every fanbase does, and thinking to themselves “Man, we finally get some success, and they hand us a tough schedule!” Before you get to overthinking the schedule, remember, every team is an injury or two away from falling from grace as a good team. Below, let’s dive into each game, and see where the Bills shake out in what should be a weird 2020. (Editor’s Note: It’s already been a weird 2020.)
Week 1: Vs. New York Jets
Why does it feel like every Bills season has the Jets on the schedule early? No matter. The pride of Western New York matches up very well against their foes from New Jersey (Yes, the Buffalo Bills are the only TRUE New York NFL team) and I do not expect much to change here. The Bills will not have their typical loudhouse of BillsMafia to make Sam Darnold’s life miserable, but no matter; he can do that all on his own.
The Jets have had their struggles along the offensive line, Darnold has seen ghosts, and Le’Veon Bell has yet to show he is worth the contract the Jets paid him. Although the Jets possess some talent, they are pretty young and still learning how to adjust to the pro level.
Bills show up with a strong defense, good running game, and some weapons in the passing game. Give me the Bills in a big win.
Week 2: At Miami Dolphins
At this point, will the Dolphins ditch Ryan Fitzpatrick and go to Tua Tagovailoa? I doubt it. They will try to ride “Fitzmagic” as long as they can, until they have no choice but to turn to their number five overall pick.
The Dolphins showed they have some spunk in the latter portion of 2019, knocking off the Patriots in Week 17 to make sure they played on Wild Card Weekend without a bye. (How great was seeing them lose their first playoff game?)
The Dolphins definitely got better though, inking Byron Jones to pair with Xavien Howard, drafting Austin Jackson to sure up the offensive line, grabbing Shaq Lawson and having an overall solid draft. Like the Jets, however – still young.
I expect the Bills to use the ground game a lot this week, and run their way to another victory. Again, the Bills defense is going to give them a shot in every game.
Week 3: Vs Los Angeles Rams
The first true test of the season, the Bills take on a spread-out, fast offense in the Rams. Jared Goff was pretty ‘meh’ last season, but he has the weapons and experience to make some plays and put up some points. The Bills run defense matches up well, but the question is can their secondary hang?
The Bills offensive line is questionable to say the least, and they are taking on the best defensive tackle in football in Aaron Donald. He is skilled and strong enough to absolutely dominate the line of scrimmage. They added Leonard Floyd, ditched Clay Matthews and Cory Littleton, and obviously still have Jalen Ramsay. Talent is abound on that defense, but will they play up to potential?
I think this game, weather permitting – it is Orchard Park, anyone in Western New York knows how windy it gets there – becomes a shootout. This is where we see exactly where Josh Allen is at. This time, I think he comes up short.
Week 4: At Las Vegas Raiders
One has to be pretty impressed with the rebuild job that Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden have done with the Raiders roster over the last couple of years, bringing in an influx of talent. Darren Waller has come into his own, the team made sure they got a couple weapons on the outside with Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards, and Josh Jacobs was rock-solid in his first season toting the rock.
Their defense is improved, but still not quite where they want it to be. Damon Arnette was selected in the first round to sure up what was a pretty weak secondary, but there is still room to grow.
This is the game the Bills need Josh Allen to take advantage, and sling the ball around accurately. I think he makes enough plays, and Stefon Diggs catches a late touchdown to give them the edge.
Week 5: At Tennessee Titans
Are the Titans the team we saw in late 2019, that got hot and ran their way to the AFC Title Game? Or are they set to fall back to earth? Around this point in the season is where we will find out. With what was already a solid defense, the Titans signed Jadeveon Clowney to a 1-year deal to sure up the front seven, and already have a pretty strong secondary headlined by Kevin Byard, who for my money is still vastly underrated and not talked about enough.
The Titans strategy is pretty clear: pound teams into submission with Derrick Henry, and make enough plays through the air to keep the defense off-balance. This will be the Bills’ toughest test against the run, and that front seven will be tested.
In the end, the Titans will make just enough plays, they will pick off Josh Allen a couple of times, and Henry will be a little too much, even though the Bills will keep him under 4YPC.
Week 6: Vs Kansas City Chiefs
I know what people will say; this is an absolutely no-brainer of a loss for the Bills. Hear me out, though. This is a mid-October game, and for anyone who lives in Buffalo, they know the weather gets very unpredictable from October on. The wind could be gusting, there could be some rain, heck, there could even be snow!
The Bills are going to need some weather to come into play here, as the Chiefs offense is quite the difficult task to handle, even with as good as the Bills defense is. Patrick Mahomes will likely throw 35-45 times, and the Bills defense will get some stops, no doubt about that, but it will be tough to overcome.
This is a game the team will need their young quarterback to shine. A score under 30 points is almost impossible to beat the Chiefs with, and I think the Bills come up just short.
Week 7: At New York jets
Rewind to week one, and much of the same can be said here. The Jets have, for my money, one of the worst head coaches in the NFL in Adam Gase. With the offensive line still struggling, Sam Darnold needs to shake off the turnover bug, and in the end, the Bills get to him and run rampant.
Not much to say here, I think the Bills take care of business and end their small losing streak.
Week 8: Vs New England Patriots
These ain’t your old New England Patriots, but they are nothing to take lightly. New quarterback Cam Newton – if healthy – can keep this team firmly in the mix. Their problem? They have lost a lot of talent on the defensive side to opt-outs and free agency. Still, there may be no coach better at getting more out of less than Bill Belichick.
No matter, this is the Bills season to FINALLY win the AFC East, and this is where it begins. They put a good old-fashioned beatdown on the Patriots, and Josh Allen has his coming-out party, slinging a few touchdowns. Even taking one deep over old friend Stephon Gilmore!
Week 9: Vs Seattle Seahawks
Every good playoff team steals one game each year that perhaps the “experts” think they will lose. Well, many would consider the Baltimore Ravens having stolen one against Seattle last year, and this time, it happens for the Bills.
Russell Wilson is going to give the Bills defense all they can handle, as he does any defense, but this is the game where the Bills cement their playoff and division contention. Josh Allen may not have the prettiest stat line, but it won’t matter. Devin Singletary will eclipse 100 yards and run in a couple scores, and the Bills hold on for a tight, very needed win.
Week 10: At Arizona Cardinals
This is the match-up that scares me for the Bills. A solid, athletic quarterback with a plethora of weapons. Newly-added DeAndre Hopkins will be shadowed by Tre White, leaving some match-up concerns across the other spots. Christian Kirk will be tough to stop in the slot, and Kenyan Drake found new life with the Cardinals after the trade from the Dolphins.
Where there is some strong hope, is on the offensive side of the ball, as the Bills match up pretty well with the Cardinals. Patrick Peterson will likely shadow Stefon Diggs, allowing John “Smokey” Brown to get some one-on-one match-ups to exploit.
In the end, the Cardinals make a few more plays, and send the Bills back home with a loss.
Week 11: Bye Week
Much deserved rest before the final push.
Week 12: Vs Los Angeles Chargers
By now, I expect Justin Herbert to be taking the snaps for the Chargers, and that is music to the Bills’ defenses ears. Herbert could get erratic at times at Oregon, and I expect some struggles from the rookie signal-caller.
Where the Chargers will need to make hay is on defense, and they are again without standout safety Derwin James, a huge blow to that secondary. In this match-up, I think it comes down to which offense can make more plays, and in this one, it is the Bills. So chalk up another W for the boys from Buffalo.
Week 13: At San Francisco 49ers
What starts back-to-back weeks of primetime games, the Bills get a chance to make a statement. The Niners have what is arguably the best defense in the league, with a rushing attack potent enough to run on any defense, even one as good as the Bills.
Ed Oliver and Co. will have their hands full up front, while the offense will be tasked with scoring on a defense that, quite frankly, doesn’t give up a lot of points. I expect this to be a low-scoring, grind-it-out game that end with a Niners victory, but barely.
Week 14: Vs Pittsburgh Steelers
This is where things get very real for the Bills, as they make their march for the division title and a postseason birth. Pittsburgh, likewise, will be making a similar push for the postseason, so this game is going to mean a lot.
Bills fans have longed for a home primetime game, and the hope is fans could be back for this, at least in some capacity. If they are there, they will pack that stadium and be louder than ever before.
From a pure match-up standpoint, this favors the Bills in my eyes (no it is not my bias against the Steelers). The Bills played them really tightly last year, and I expect no different in 2020. The difference this time around: Stefon Diggs. I do not think there is a corner on the Steelers roster that can take him one-on-one. Diggs will have a big day, Singletary will do his thing, the defense will hold Big Ben down and it is on to victory.
Week 15: At Denver Broncos
The Broncos are a team filled with young talent, especially on offense, taking Jerry Jeudy in round one to start alongside Courtland Sutton for young quarterback Drew Lock. The defense lost Von Miller for the year, and Chris Harris, Jr. to free agency. No worries, they got Jurrell Casey, AJ Bouye, and kept Shelby Harris.
Where the Bills have the advantage in this match-up is on the front line. While both teams’ offensive lines are a weakness, the Bills have the front seven to take advantage of a particularly weak Broncos line.
This game will be won and lost up front, and I expect the Bills to take that victory.
Week 16: At New England Patriots
Having already gone through this, the match-ups are pretty much the same. New England possesses a strong secondary, but question marks in the front seven. I fully expect a lot of rushing attempts for Devin Singletary and Zack Moss to exploit that.
However, it is hard to beat Bill Belichick twice in one year, and this is not going to be any exception. For purely that reason, I believe the Patriots take one, and make the division race come down to the final game of the season.
Week 17: Vs Miami Dolphins
It all comes down to this. Tua Tagovailoa will be starting by this point, and the Dolphins will be no slouch. Preston Williams and DeVante Parker are going to be a strong duo for the young quarterback, and Lynn Bowden, Jr. will have found his role in the offense by now.
The Dolphins will make this interesting. They are going to give this all they have. Heck, they may be fighting for a .500 record here. In the end, it won’t be enough. The Bills win a cold game in Western New York, and they FINALLY get to call themselves division champions!
So, that’s it. No need to watch the games, I got them done right here. Well, just for fun, go ahead and watch. The Bills end up with the #4 seed in the AFC, take their division, and become a team that others do not want to face come January.