– Steve Stich
The Buffalo Bills are still four months away from playing their first regular season game under Rex Ryan, but that shouldn’t stop us from making some guesses on how the team will look to make it back to the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons. Let’s take a week-by-week look at how I think things may shake out.
Week One: Colts at Bills
The Ralph will be rocking Week One when Andrew Luck comes into town. The Bills defense should be one of the best in the league and will look to make a statement against one of the league’s top QBs. Even with Marcell Dareus facing a possible suspension here, the Bills should have more than enough energy for the season opener to make up for his absence. LeSean McCoy should be able to have a huge debut against a Colts defense that allowed over 1800 yards rushing last season.
Prediction: Matt Cassel finds Robert Woods for a late touchdown and the Bills win 24-20.
Week Two: Patriots at Bills
Tom Brady will be in the middle of serving a suspension for deflating footballs, so the Bills must take advantage of Brady missing this early season game. Jimmy Garoppolo will struggle early and often in making his first career road start, and the Bills offense will capitalize on the turnovers the defense creates.
Prediction: Bills make an early season statement against the reigning Super Bowl champs winning 31-21.
Week Three: Bills at Dolphins
The Bills’ first road game is in Miami for the Dolphins’ home opener. Another early season measuring stick game for two teams that are trying to dethrone the Patriots atop the AFC east.
Prediction: Matt Cassel throws his first crucial interception as a Bills quarterback with the team looking to take the lead in the final 3 minutes. Dolphins win 21-17.
Week Four: Giants at Bills
Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Sammy Watkins. The Bills should look to validate the Draft Day trade up to get Watkins, when they could have stayed at pick 9 and picked OBJ.
Prediction: Sammy outperforms OBJ in this one catching 2 touchdowns. Bills win 28-20.
Week Five: Bills at Titans
The Titans will be coming off a bye here, but the Bills should be able to take advantage of the Marcus Mariota-lead Titans. Mariota will be confused all game against this stingy Bills Defense.
Prediction: Bills improve to 4-1 with a 27-10 win.
Week Six: Bengals at Bills
The Bills should be able to beat the Bengals at home, but the team is still from Buffalo, so they cannot have too many nice things and suffer a letdown before heading to London.
Prediction: Bills lose to the Bengals 21-13.
Week Seven: Bills at Jaguars (In London)
The Bills get to go against their former coach Doug Marrone, who is now the offensive line coach for the Jags. The Jaguars made some improvements in the offseason on offense with the addition of Julius Thomas, but it will not be enough to beat the Bills.
Prediction: Bills head into the bye at 5-2 with a 35-17 win.
Week Eight: BYE
Week Nine: Dolphins at Bills
The Bills will be looking for some revenge from earlier season and they should be able to get it. Ryan Tannehill has struggled in all three of his previous starts at the Ralph, and that continues here.
Prediction: Bills win 27-16.
Week Ten: Bills at Jets (Thursday Night)
Rex will definitely have his team ready to go against his former team. This is the first of three straight road games for the Bills, so they need to win at least one of these to prove that they are playoff contenders.
Prediction: Rex gets his revenge. Bills win 20-10.
Week Eleven: Bills at Patriots (Monday Night)
The Patriots will have Brady back for this game and will look for payback from the Week 2 loss the Bills handed them.
Prediction: Bills lose 34-23.
Week Twelve: Bills at Chiefs
The Bills have lost two straight to the Chiefs that they should have won. These two teams play each other almost every season, and the Bills will look for payback following the past two seasons.
Prediction: Bills make a statement on the road improving to 8-3 with a 23-19 victory.
Week Thirteen: Texans at Bills
Unless JJ Watt learns how to play quarterback, the Bills should have no problem beating a Texans team being quarterbacked by Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett.
Prediction: Bills win 26-15.
Week Fourteen: Bills at Eagles
LeSean McCoy travels back to Philly looking to put his money where his mouth is when he faces Chip Kelly and the Eagles.
Prediction: Despite 150 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns from McCoy, the Bills lose on an interception from Kiko Alonso late in the game. Bills lose 27-24.
Week Fifteen: Bills at Redskins
The Bills should be able to go into Washington to pick up their 10th victory against a team that may struggle all season long.
Prediction: Bills win 24-17.
Week Sixteen: Cowboys at Bills
Both of these teams come into this matchup battling for division titles. The difference in this one will be the team with the better quarterback play, and that will be the Cowboys.
Prediction: Bills lose on a last second field goal 20-17.
Week Seventeen: Jets at Bills
With a win here, the Bills will make the playoffs for the first time this century. The Jets are ready to mail in the season in sub-zero temperatures.
Prediction: Bills dominate the Jets all game long, and after the game, the fans tear down the goal posts in celebration. Bills win 31-10 and finish the season 11-5.
This season is playoffs or bust for the Bills. Anything but a playoff appearance from this team will be a disappointment. Expectations have not been this high for the Bills in a long time, and I may be a fool for drinking the Kool-Aid. We still have four months until the season starts and a lot can change, but that’s what makes predictions fun.
– Steve Stich, @stevestich12