By Nick Richardson @NickSonofDave on July 7, 2014
With a roster full of talented young players, expectations are high for the Buffalo Bills entering the 2014 season. Even though they haven’t made the playoffs in 14 years, many are expecting the Bills to contend for a playoff spot. But these five factors could end up derailing the Bills’ hopes.
Based on last year’s results, the Bills’ schedule is not that tough. Of course, it’s dangerous to make predictions for this year based on last year. Buffalo will have to face a plethora of very good quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers and of course Tom Brady twice. That’s almost half of the Bills’ schedule where they will be badly outmatched at the most important position.
One major reason why the Bills have struggled for so long is that they have been in the same division as New England in an era when the Patriots have dominated the AFC East. Miami and New York won’t be pushovers this season either; Ryan Tannehill looks like he could be ready to take the next step, and any Rex Ryan-coached team is always hard to play against.
Come Week 1 the Bills could be down three players who made significant impacts on last year’s standout unit. Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd left for New Orleans early on this offseason. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons lately and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was suspended several games. And perhaps worst of all, linebacker Kiko Alonso will miss the entire season after tearing his ACL.
There is no doubt that the Bills have the talent to make the playoffs in 2014. They have playmakers on both sides of the ball. The problem is that many of those playmakers (like Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Stephon Gilmore) are young and inexperienced. They have yet to learn how to win in the NFL. While the Bills will undoubtedly show flashes of brilliance this year, the growing pains will be too much to overcome.
When all is said and done, the man under center determines an NFL team’s success most of the time. Manuel showed he has the physical abilities to succeed in the NFL as a rookie. But he does not yet possess the mental acuity and toughness of someone like Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, guys who can put the team on their back when needed. Ultimately, Manuel’s struggles will prevent the Bills from winning the AFC East this year.
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