2014 Buffalo Bills Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 6/13/2014
It's been a rough offseason for Buffalo Bills long-time fans. Owner Ralph Wilson, the only reason the city still has a team and will likely keep it, passed away. The club is still up for sale and a new stadium will be needed to keep it in the area but Wilson smartly included a location clause for when the club was sold whenever he died. Jim Kelly, the greatest player in franchise history, is battling cancer. So this franchise deserves some good karma.
Buffalo has the longest playoff drought in the NFL, last playing extra football in 1999 when Doug Flutie was the quarterback. The Bills have had just one winning record since then (9-7 in 2004) and have finished 6-10 the past three years and four of the past five. If there was a bright side to Doug Marrone's first season as head coach in 2013 I guess it was that the team's negative-49 point differential was the franchise's best since 2008, the last time it won seven games. Buffalo also was pretty good at home. That 4-4 mark doesn't look super but all four losses -- to the Patriots, Bengals, Chiefs and Falcons -- could easily have been Buffalo wins.
The coaching staff and front office could all be on the way out after this year if more progress isn't made. Fans in Buffalo are tired of losing and new ownership tends to like to bring in its own guys and a new sense of enthusiasm.
As usual, the offense starts with the quarterback and no one really knows how good E.J. Manuel is yet. He was a shocking first-round pick last year and started from the get-go. He had the typical ups-and-downs one would expect. Manuel was limited to 10 games due to injury, completing 5.58 percent of his passes for 1,972 yards, 11 TDs and nine interceptions for a rating of 77.7. Not good enough to make the Bills a winner, but not too bad for a raw rookie. The Bills were a fairly conservative team last year and should be again with a terrific running game led by C.J. Spiller. He did regress a bit last year, only averaging 4.6 yards per carry, but part of that is on a lousy passing game. The Bills might have the best running back depth chart in the NFL with Fred Jackson at No. 2 and likely Bryce Brown, formerly of the Eagles, at No. 3.
Buffalo's biggest offseason splash was trading the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 draft, as well as first- and fourth-rounders next year, to Cleveland for the No. 4 pick in May. The Bills jumped on Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins with the selection. That was clearly designed to give Manuel the true No. 1 receiver he needs to improve. Watkins is electric, but I wonder if that price was worth it. The Bills maybe could have gotten Texas A&M's Mike Evans at No. 9; they jumped ahead of Oakland at No. 5 because Buffalo thought the Raiders would take Watkins. He and Robert Woods, another youngster, should form a very nice duo.
This group was quietly very good last year -- so good that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was surprisingly hired as Cleveland's head coach. Under Pettine, the Billls jumped from 26th in points allowed and 22nd in yards allowed during the 2012 season (when he was with the Jets) to 20th and 10th, respectively. The Bills finished No. 2 in sacks with 57. Linebacker Kiko Alonso was a stud as a rookie and I thought should have won DROY honors instead of the Jets' Sheldon Richardson. Alonso led the team with 159 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. The Bills had three guys, Mario Williams (13), Kyle Williams (10.5) and Jerry Hughes (10.0) with double-digit sacks.
The team did lose very good safety Jarius Byrd to free agency and it's likely that Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will be facing a suspension of perhaps 4-6 games. He was recently arrested twice in a month. Buffalo did add former Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes in free agency. Former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is the Bills' new defensive coordinator. True, he was lousy as a head coach but very good as a defensive coordinator in Tennessee.
2014 Buffalo Bills Schedule Analysis
Buffalo has the 14th-toughest schedule in the NFL as its opponents went a combined 127-127-2 last season for a .500 winning percentage. The good news? It's the easiest in the AFC East. Buffalo's home slate (.516) is tougher than on the road (.484). Buffalo is a 6.5-point Week 1 underdog at Chicago, a place the Bills are 0-5 in their history. The Bills were 2-6 last season on the road and 2-6 against the spread.
The Bills' bye is Week 9 and the schedule is pretty friendly overall. Following the Bears, the Bills are home to Miami and San Diego, visit Houston and Detroit, home to New England and Minnesota and at the Jets. Only the Chargers and Patriots were playoff teams a year ago. I don't see any reason why the Bills couldn't win any of those four home games. After the bye: vs. Kansas City, at Miami, vs. the Jets, vs. Cleveland, at Denver, vs. Green Bay, at Oakland, at New England. Those first four games out of the bye are not insurmountable, either, so the team might have wild-card hopes entering December. Those will vanish with losses at the Broncos and Patriots as well as home to the Packers.
2014 Buffalo Bills Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Futures Odds
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag. The Bills are +7500 to win the Super Bowl, +3500 to win the AFC title and +1000 to win the AFC East (long shot). Buffalo has a wins total of 6.5, with the "over" a -165 favorite. Watkins is the +550 favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year and +10000 to lead the NFL in receiving yards. Spiller is +20000 to win NFL MVP and +4000 to lead the league in rushing. Manuel is +10000 to lead the NFL in passing yards.
2014 Buffalo Bills Picks and Betting Predictions
I do believe this team is on track if Manuel is simply good, not even great. There's top-level talent on offense and defense. The schedule looks pretty easy other than that final four-game run. The Bills might be able to avoid a two-game losing streak until then. If Spiller didn't have to share carries with Jackson, I'd like him as a longer shot on the rushing prop. And if I had more faith in Manuel and the weather wasn't so bad in Buffalo in the winter, which hampers passing, I'd like Watkins more for OROY. I do think this is a seven-win team so take the "over" there.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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