The Buffalo Bills enters the 2018 NFL season continuing their rebuilding started last year. Don’t be fooled by a playoff appearance in 2017, it was a result of a hard-working/overachieving group of players being able to find success led by a head coach who created a great environment around them.
The season two of “the process” starts with the team becoming even younger than in 2017, replacing former veteran starters like quarterback Tyrod Taylor and middle linebacker Preston Brown with rookies in Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds respectively. The longtime left tackle Cordy Glenn left to the Bengals as part of the deal to the Bills move up in the draft to select Allen. Second-year LT Dion Dawkins played well as his replacement last season and is the new starter there. Richie Incognito and Eric Wood, another two veteran starters at the offensive line, retired (with Incognito changing his mind later and asking for his release) and the Bills don’t have anyone on the roster to replace them at the same level.
The offense will start the season led by second-year QB Nathan Peterman, who played very well in the preseason earning the starting gig. He was the best option playing behind the Bills porous OL and it gives a bit of time to the coaching staff be able to figure out a way of improving the pass protection before inserting their prized rookie QB behind the starting lineup. Wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Jeremy Kerley and tight end Charles Clay should be the featured targets in the passing game.
The heart and soul of the offense is running back LeSean McCoy though. Recently named a team captain for the first time in his illustrious career, “Shady” still’s one of the most dangerous backs in the league, being a threat on the ground or in the passing game. New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll loves his empty sets with the RB split out wide, so we can expect a lot of favorable matchups for the Bills’ star.
If the OL can play at an average level at least, allowing Allen to start sooner rather than later, this offense can surprise. That’s a big “if” though, given the options available in this group.
The defense carried the team in the first season under coach McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and improvement is expected this year. The ball-hawking trio of Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer is back and that’s the strength of this D. Stopping the run and generating pressure where problems though and free agent signings Star Lotulelei (ex-Panthers) and Trent Murphy (ex-Redskins) are expected to help at this department.
Rookie LB Tremaine Edmunds has the potential to elevate this defense to another level and looked very comfortable in his last preseason appearance versus the Bengals. The Bills will need this unit at their best to be able to fight for a playoff spot for the second consecutive season.
3rd and goal for Josh Allen
Escapes the immediate pressure
Extends the play IN the pocket
Safety robbing weak
Streater breaks to MOF
Off platform throw
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) August 18, 2018
With almost $50M in dead cap money and a lot of young talent needing development, this Bills team isn’t really trying to be a contender this year. It’s the second step of the rebuilding and positive signs from their young cornerstones, especially Allen and Edmunds, alongside the team showing competitiveness all season long, will be viewed as a positive season overall. Being positive, I can see this team winning seven games if they find a way to play Allen early. My realistic prediction is between four to six wins total though, especially with the tough schedule at the season’s beginning.