Coming off yet another disappointing season in which they finished 6-10, the Buffalo Bills are focusing all of their energy on the upcoming NFL Draft. While the regular season is still over four months away, the release of the official league schedule on Apr. 23 provides the opportunity to look ahead at how the Bills might fare in the upcoming season, and whether or not they have a chance to end their 15-year-long playoff drought.
The Bills’ non-divisional schedule pits them against the teams from the AFC West and the NFC North, as well as the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns. At first glance, Buffalo’s schedule provides numerous opportunities both good and bad.
There are a good number of very winnable games for the Bills, particularly in their own division. Both the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets are in the process of developing their respective identities. The Bills played both teams well last season, as they swept the Dolphins, while their one loss to the Jets came by only a touchdown.
However, like any NFL schedule, there are plenty of opportunities for defeat. Aside from the Vikings and Raiders, both the NFC North (Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers) and AFC West (San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos) boast three tough opponents.
Buffalo’s schedule is also bookended by tough opening and closing stretches. The last four games look particularly daunting; in a stretch of four weeks the Bills must face Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and their old friend Tom Brady.
An optimist might say that the Bills have a chance to go 9-7, possibly even 10-6. But seeing as this is the Bills we are talking about, it is probably safer to put them down for a solid 8-8 record. An improvement to be sure, but not the kind that Bills fans are looking for.