I'm excited to see the Bills this season and think they have a decent shot at ending the NFL's longest playoff drought. Buffalo will have a monster defense and should run the ball all day with new addition LeSean McCoy. That's what new head coach Rex Ryan likes to do, and he has brought plenty of excitement to the city. In fact, I'd say Ryan is probably the most popular Bill. Can any other team claim that of its coach over a player? The problem, as it has been for years in Buffalo, is at quarterback. Matt Cassel or E.J. Manuel? That's not good. I'm pretty sure Cassel will win that job, and you even hear Manuel, a first-round pick just two years ago, could be released.
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Buffalo was 5-3 at home last regular season, 4-4 against the spread and 1-7 "over/under." The Bills' 2015 home schedule ranks as tied for the fifth-toughest in the NFL with an opponents' 2014 winning percentage of .566. It's the second-toughest in the AFC East, just behind Miami.
Here's the schedule with very early (opponent) odds.
Sept. 13 -- Colts (-2): Not to be full of hyperbole, but I believe Buffalo's season could hinge on winning this game. Pull the upset of Andrew Luck, and the Bills have a very reasonable chance to start 2-0 with wins over the two teams who played in last season's AFC title game. The schedule can only get easier from there. Unfortunately for the Bills, the weather won't be a problem for Luck outdoors this early in the season. It's Luck's first trip to Buffalo. Key trend: Bills 4-6 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC South.
Sept. 20 -- Patriots (-1): This line was set before the Tom Brady suspension. So I could see Buffalo being favored against Jimmy Garoppolo, obviously depending on what Garoppolo does in Week 1 and what Buffalo also does. And the Bills have the benefit of tape on him from Week 17 last season, a win in New England when Brady barely played. Buffalo lost at home to the Patriots 37-22 in Week 6 of 2014. Kyle Orton was the quarterback then and went 24-of-38 for 299 yards with two touchdowns but two turnovers. Key trend: Buffalo 2-7-1 ATS in past 10 at home in series.
Oct. 4 -- Giants (+3): This follows a trip to Miami in Week 3 for Buffalo. New York gets a few extra days to prepare as it hosts Washington on Thursday in Week 3. Anytime I see the Bills and Giants on the same field I automatically think of one of the best Super Bowls ever, the Scott Norwood last-second miss in Tampa forever ago. The Giants haven't been to Buffalo since 2007. Key trend: Bills 7-3 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC East.
Oct. 18 -- Bengals (+1): This follows a Week 5 game at Tennessee for Buffalo and precedes a Week 7 trip to London (vs. Jacksonville) and then the bye week. It follows a really tough home game for the Bengals against Seattle and the last game before Cincy's bye week. Cincinnati last visited Buffalo in Week 6 of 2013 and won 27-24 in overtime. Key trend: Bills 7-3 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC North.
Nov. 8 -- Dolphins (+2): This is out of Buffalo's bye week and will be an important game to win with the next three on the road. The Bills stomped the visiting Dolphins 29-10 in Week 2 last year. The Bills were pretty jacked up for the game as earlier in the week the team was solid to the Sabres owners and Buffalo also held a tribute to late owner Ralph Wilson before the game. Manuel was solid, going 16-for-26 with a touchdown and no picks. Sammy Watkins caught eight passes for 117 yards and a score, and C.J. Spiller had a 102-yard kickoff return. He's gone now. Key trend: Bills 8-2 ATS in past 10 at home as favorite vs. Dolphins.
Dec. 6 -- Texans (+3): This looks to be the "Former Patriots Backup QB Bowl" as presumably it's Cassel against either Ryan Mallett or Brian Hoyer. As noted above, it follows a three-game road trip to the Jets, Patriots and Chiefs for Buffalo. Houston comes off a home game against New Orleans. The Texans beat the visiting Bills 23-17 in Week 4 last year. Manuel was 21-for-44 for 225 yards, two scores and two picks, with one returned 80 yards for a score. The Bills forced three Houston turnovers. Key trend: Bills 6-4 ATS in past 10 at home in December as a favorite.
Dec. 27 -- Cowboys (+1): This follows games at Philadelphia and Washington for Buffalo, so it's an NFC East trifecta. Dallas is home to the Jets the week before. It's the first time the Cowboys have visited Buffalo since 2007. I would expect a huge weather advantage here for the Bills as I doubt it's very nice and Dallas is more of an indoor team. Key trend: Bills 6-4 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC.
Jan. 3 -- Jets (TBA): Ryan's former team makes its visit. No line as in all Week 17 games with too many intangibles possible. This seems the best possible finale for Buffalo rather than facing Miami or New England among AFC East teams. The Jets have as many quarterback problems as Buffalo does. You may remember the Bills "hosted" the Jets in Week 12 last year on a Monday night in Detroit because Sunday's game in Buffalo was snowed out. The Bills won 38-3 in probably their best game of the season. Orton threw for 230 yards and two scores and Robert Woods caught nine passes for 118 yards and a TD. Buffalo also had a blocked punt for a score. Key trend: Bills 6-4 ATS in past 10 at home in this series (favorite or dog).
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