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NFL Team Previews: Buffalo Bills

2018 Season Review: 6-10 (3rd in AFC East)

The Bills were coming off of a 2017 where they made the playoffs behind a very good defense and an opportunistic offense led by Tyrod Taylor. The Bills decided to move on from Tyrod Taylor, not wanting to pay him, and took Josh Allen from Wyoming with their first pick in the draft as their QB of the future. Early on coach Sean McDermott said Nathan Peterman would be the starter in Buffalo until Allen was ready. What a mistake that was. Peterman was also plugged in for Taylor in the 2017 and threw 5 INTS against the Chargers.

Well welcome to Week 1 at Baltimore in 2018 with Peterman starting and he threw 2 INTS and fucking sucked so Allen was put in to play. From there, it was Allens team but he did deal with some lingering issues and only played in 12 games, starting 11. In those games Allen threw for 2,074 yards with 10 TDs and 12 INTS. More impressively Allen ran for 631 yards and 8 TDs, something people weren’t expecting after watching him in college. The team seemed to rally behind Allen and played with a bit of spark when he was in there. He ended up leading the Bills to five of their six wins on the year including a few drubbings of Minnesota in Week 3 and Miami in week 16. Allen showed a lot of promise for the future and he look s to be the QB of the future for them.

However, Allen was really the only bright spot on offense for Buffalo. Their offensive line was awful and was ranked 26th by Pro Football Focus at the end of the year. The Bills offensive line gave up 41 sacks, and would have been more if Allen wasn’t so good at avoiding the rush and running out of the pocket. Although the Bills averaged 124 yards rushing per game, remember Josh Allen accounted for 631 yards during the season on scramble plays most of the time. In fact, Allen led the team in rushing in just 12 games. LeSean McCoy was second in line with 514 yards in 14 games. The 124 YPG looks nice and was 12th in the league, but its misleading to look at.

Receiving wise the Bills had no weapons. A few guys shined towards the end of the season like Zay Jones and Robert Foster but those two are nothing to write home about. Those guys have yet to prove the can carry a WR corps. Jones led the team with 652 receiving yards while Foster ended the year with 541. Both are young guys that the Bills can build from.

Overall the Bills were pretty awful on offense. They finished with the 30th ranked scoring offense with 16.8 PPG, they did have the 124 YPG rushing but they only had 174 YPG passing. They need a lot of help on offense and only won six games because their defense was good enough.

The Bills finished 18th in the league with allowing 24.3 PPG. They finished at 16th giving up 114.9 yards rushing per game, but they were the best defense in the NFL against the pass when it comes to yardage giving up only 179.2 per game. The Bills did a good job getting after the QB by tallying up 41 sacks on the year, tied for 14th. Another positive was the takeaways. They finished with 16 INTS and 11 fumbles, good for 8th in the league in turnovers forced. The problem was, they threw 23 INTS themselves and lost 9 fumbles which led to a -5 turnover differential. They were the only team in the top half of the league of forced turnovers, to have a negative turnover differential. The only teams that came close were the Panthers (+1) and the New York Giants (+2) and those two teams finished 14th and 15th respectively in turnovers forced.

Overall the Bills have a solid squad on defense. Their secondary is led by Pro Bowl guys like Micah Hyde and Tre’Davious White. Up front they had guys like Kyle Williams, Jerry Hughes, and Star Loutlelei to rely on. At LB, they took Tremaine Edmunds early in the 2018 draft and he proved to be a very good player. So all in all the Bills have a solid foundation on defense to build off in 2018.

Key Off Season Acquisitions

C Mitch Morse (4 years, $44.5 Million)

Mitch Morse getting introduced by the Buffalo Bills (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

As we just mentioned, the Bills offensive line was very bad this year and it didn’t take long for them to address it. They went out and signed Mitch Morse from the Kansas City Chiefs to play center for them. Not only is Morse immediately the best player on this offensive line, he also comes from a winning culture and can teach these young guys how to win.

WR Cole Beasley (4 years, $29 Million)

The Bills needed help at WR and they went and got two good guys who do different things. The first is Cole Beasley from the Dallas Cowboys. Beasley had some great games with the Cowboys but never had a break out year where he would be considered one of the best slot guys in the NFL. Beasley has the chance to be that in Buffalo if this offense decides to feature him. Beasley is very good in the slot and hard match-up for safeties and LBs. He should become a good security blanket for Josh Allen.

WR John Brown (3 years, $27 Million)

The other WR the Bills went out and got is speedster John Brown from the Baltimore Ravens. The Bills did not have a good deep threat for Allen, who might have the biggest arm in the NFL. Now they have that guy who can run under the bombs Allen is going to throw.

TE Tyler Croft (3 years, $18.75 Million)

Croft comes over from Cincinnati where he was a solid backup to Tyler Eifert who kept getting hurt. The Bills let Charles Clay walk this year and needed a replacement. The decide to go with Croft who had 404 yards receiving and 7 TDs in 2017 with the Bengals, but only played in 5 total games last year. The Bills are hoping they get the 2017 Croft who should also help them in the run game with his blocking.

2019 NFL Draft

Round 1 Pick #9: DT Ed Oliver

We’ll talk about departures in a second but longtime DT Kyle Williams retired after the 2018 season. He was a great player and the heartbeat for the Bills since he was drafted in 2006. The Bills took one of the highest regarded players in this draft in Ed Oliver, who they can use all over the defensive line. Oliver comes in at 6’2″ and 287 pounds but he can MOVE, he ran a 4.73 40 yard dash, 7.15 3 cone drill and a 4.22 short shuttle. For reference, all those number are right around Aaron Donals when he was coming into the league.

Oliver sat out the majority of this past year because of a knee injury and issues with his head coach but he still had 54 tackles, 14.5 TFL, and 3 sacks. His big year came during his Sophomore season. Oliver had 73 tackles, 16.5 TFL, and 5.5 sacks. He won the Outland Trophy and was a finalist for the Nagurski Award and also received All-American honors. He was dominate during his time with Houston and will be a day 1 started for the Bills.

Round 2 Pick #38: OT Cody Ford

The Bills got a steal here. Because QBs get taken higher than they should, and this draft was so defense heavy some very good offensive players fell and one of those was Cody Ford who was projected as a first round pick. Ford played RT at Oklahoma and although he wasn’t flashy with constant pancake blocks he was solid and was of the best pass blocking OL in college football. Ford comes in at 6’4″ and 329 pounds and earned first-team All Big 12 honors and third-team All-American honors last year. Ford should be the starter at RT for the Bills in Week 1.

Key Off Season Departures

DT Kyle Williams (retirement)

Williams is a big loss for this team, not just because of his production but because of what he meant to this team and the city of Buffalo. Williams was drafted in 2006 by the Bills in the 5th round at 134th overall from LSU. During his 13 seasons in Buffalo, Williams racked up 611 tackles, 103 TFL, and 48.5 sacks. He was also selected to 6 Pro Bowls including three in a row from 2012 to 2014. Williams is going to be missed not only on but off the field in Buffalo.

2019 Preview

The Bills had a big offseason changing this roster. They signed 18 free agents, and then drafted eight more players in the draft, so this team has 26 notable new faces showing up to training camp and that doesn’t count all the undrafted rookies and other random guys they’ll bring in.

The Bills didn’t need a huge roster overhaul like some teams, but they seem to be doing that anyway. Offensively in 2019, this team should be much better than the 16.8 PPG they put up last year and that starts with the offensive line. Signing Mitch Morse and drafting Cody Ford is going to give the Bills a better OL that can maybe get to 124 yards rushing per game without their QB running for 600+ yards ruing the year.

This Bills defense will keep them in games and they already had the core there before free agency and the draft which showed. The questions for the Bills come on offense in 2019. This Bills have the talent on offense to be in the top half of league in points. I love what they’ve done with their receiving core in adding Cole Beasley and John Brown to two solid young guys in Zay Jones and Robert Foster. They added Tyler Croft at TE and also drafted a young guy Dawson Knox. Somehow, the biggest question for offense for the Bills comes at RB.

LeSean McCoy isn’t what he used to be and can’t stay healthy. The Bills brought in Frank Gore but that guy has to be almost 50 by now. Gore is reliable but he’s not going to be a 1,000 yard rusher, he is a great safety net though. The Bills also added TJ Yeldon from Jacksonville to the mix, so they have three guys who can all move the needle, but nobody that will move it that far. The surprise could come from their third round pick Devin Singletary who was getting some work with the first team in mini camps. If McCoy struggles early, I think Singletary is going to get the first crack at being the main guy in Buffalo.

Finally like every good team in the NFL, their season falls on the shoulder of Josh Allen and his development in year 2. I think Allen is poised for a great year with what the Bills have put around him this off season. Allen has the ability to throw for over 4,000 yards, and rush for another 500+ if that offensive line hold up in front of him. I say the do and Allen breaks out in 2019 and solidifies himself as a franchise QB in Buffalo they can continue to build around.

Schedule

The AFC East gets to play the AFC North and NFC East this year. The Bills finished third in their division so they also draw the Tennessee Titans and the Denver Broncos.

The Bills have an odd schedule that is loaded in the first eight game with five at home, which means they only have three homes games in their last eight. They open the season with two road games, in the same fucking stadium. First at the Jets, then at the Giants. They then get five of their next six games at home. The play one game away from Buffalo from September 22nd until November 10th and that is at Tennessee on October 6th. ONce they get done playing five of six at home, they then play five of their last eight on the Road. The Bills also get to stay fully on the East coast pretty much, every game but two is played in the Eastern Time Zone. Their only games outside EST are at Tennessee in Week 5 and at Dallas in Week 13.

Speaking of Dallas, that is the Bills lone prime-time game of the year which lands as the Thanksgiving Day game for them. If the Bills are a playoff contending team this year, they do have a lot of potential for flex games in the second half of the season with games at Cleveland, vs Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, and at New England.

As for division games. The Dolphins and Patriots games are space out and the only time they play back to back division opponents is in Weeks 16 and 17. They also open and end the season with the New York Jets.

Fantasy Player You Want

John Brown. Guess what he loves to do? Run deep. Guess what Josh Allen loves to do? Throw the ball deep. This is a match made in heave. John Brown was having a very good year in Baltimore before the Ravens put in Lamar Jackson and Brown fell off the map. He saw the writing on the wall and got the hell out of there and went to a team where what he does best, will be featured. I love Brown to get over 1,000 yards this year and have a ton of big plays.

Fantasy Player to Avoid

LeSean McCoy. McCoy shows flashes of still being a good RB and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets traded at some point during camp, but I am staying away from him. The Bills added Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon, and drafted RB Devin Singletary in the third round. McCoy will be a guy probably gone in the third or fourth rounds but I don’t want him. He may be the main guy in Buffalo but he’s going to split carries with Gore and receptions with Yeldon. Plus if Singletary shines at all, the Bills are going to lean towards the future.

Ceiling

This Bills team has done everything right this offseason, they’ve improved their offensive line and WR core, and the replaced their biggest loss on defense with an absolute stud from the draft. Some people will like the Jets more than the Bills this season because of Darnold and Bell, but I think this Bills team is legit behind their defense and improved offense. I can see this team winning 10 games and making it back to the playoffs.

Floor

I don’t see this team falling apart, plus their schedule gives them the Jets and Dolphins twice (obviously), the Giants, Redskins, and Bengals who should all be in the lower half of the league. Not saying they’ll win all seven of those games and that would be it, but I see this team winning at least 7 games in 2019.

(Micheal Reavers/Getty Images)
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3 comments on “NFL Team Previews: Buffalo Bills

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