2018 Buffalo Bills Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
Seattle Mariners, the monkey is yours!
By that we mean monkey on the proverbial back for the longest playoff drought in the four major American sports leagues. That "honor" had belonged to the Buffalo Bills, who hadn't played extra football entering 2017 since 1999 - when Doug Flutie was their quarterback.
I'm not a Bills fan, but I sure lived through those fans' joy in Week 17 last year. Buffalo had to win in Miami to finish 9-7 and get some help to earn a wild-card spot. That help needed to come from Cincinnati, which had squat to play for, winning as a huge underdog in Baltimore, which was in with a win or tie. It sure looked like the Ravens were going to win up 27-24 and with the Bengals facing fourth-and-12 at the Baltimore 49 with 44 seconds left. I'm sure you know what happened by now: Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard touchdown.
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There was some magnificent video of Bills fans and players celebrating after that score. That's exactly why the NFL stages relevant games at the same kickoff time in Week 17. The Bills played stellar defense in the Wild-Card Game in Jacksonville but managed little offensively in a 10-3 defeat. Still, a very successful season under first-year coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane. Remember, the Bills acted like 2017 was going to be a rebuilding year with trades of guys like Sammy Watkins.
For whatever reason, McDermott & Beane didn't think much of quarterback Tyrod Taylor, even though the guy almost never turns the ball over and is at a minimum above average. The Bills traded him to Cleveland this offseason for a third-round pick. Buffalo signed former Bengals backup AJ McCarron to serve as a bridge starter after trading up in the draft to take raw-but-talented Josh Allen from Wyoming. We'll deal more with him later in the summer. It sure seems, though, that the franchise is prepared to truly take a step back this year. Some believe the thinking of Beane is to start preparing for life in the AFC East for when Tom Brady finally retires. That has some merit.
Buffalo was 3-5 on the road last season (one of just two playoff teams overall with a losing away record), 4-4 against the spread and 3-5 "over/under." The Bills travel to two playoff teams from last year: Minnesota and New England. I'd still say the road schedule is tougher with clubs like the Ravens, Texans and Packers on it. I project a 2-6 road record - every away game set for 1 p.m. ET. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 9 at Ravens (-3.5, 42): Quite the fitting opener! I almost wish this was in Buffalo because I'm sure the fans there would mock cheer the Ravens for that Week 17 choke job. It's the second time in three seasons that Buffalo opens at M&T Stadium. In 2016, the Bills lost there 13-7 with only 160 yards of offense. Key trend: Bills 4-5 ATS at Ravens.
Sept. 23 at Vikings (-10): One could argue these are the two most snake-bitten franchises in the NFL because both are 0-4 all-time in Super Bowls. Every other franchise to get there at least four times has won it at least twice. Buffalo had some interest in Kirk Cousins this offseason, but he had no interest in them. Key trend: Bills 4-6 ATS in past 10 (lost them all) as double-digit dog.
Sept. 30 at Packers (-9.5): It's the first time in team history that three of Buffalo's first four games are on the road. The Bills won the last meeting in this series at home four years ago but were smoked 34-7 at Lambeau in 2010. Buffalo won its first game at Lambeau in 1974 but has lost the last three there. It's a shame this game isn't in December considering both franchises are used to playing in wintry weather. Key trend: Bills 3-5 ATS at NFC North foes.
Oct. 14 at Texans (-6): Buffalo gets its first look at Deshaun Watson, assuming he's healthy. The Bills have dropped their past two in Houston but won the last meeting in December 2015 at home behind three TD passes from Taylor. Key trend: Bills 1-3 ATS at Texans.
Oct. 21 at Colts (-2): Last year in Week 14, the Bills beat the visiting Colts, 10-7 in overtime, in maybe the best game to watch of 2017 in a white-out snowstorm. LeSean McCoy scored on a 21-yard run with 1:33 left in OT. The Bills last played at Lucas Oil Field in 2012, Andrew Luck's rookie season. Buffalo has dropped its past five at Indy. Key trend: Bills 1-4 ATS in past five at Colts.
Nov. 11 at Jets (-1): Ahead of Buffalo's bye week. Of course, the Jets could have taken Allen at No. 3 overall had they wanted. The Bills also were interested in moving up to No. 3 overall, but New York apparently offered more to Indianapolis. Buffalo has lost its past two by double digits at the Jets, including 34-21 last season on a Thursday night. Taylor was sacked seven times. Key trend: Bills 7-3 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Dec. 2 at Dolphins (-1): Buffalo has won three of its past five in Miami, including that 22-16 victory to get into the playoffs in Week 17 last year. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams scored on a 1-yard TD run a la William Perry for a 19-0 lead. McCoy left the game injured. I'd be stunned if Allen isn't starting by here. Key trend: Bills 5-5 ATS in past 10 as dog in Miami.
Dec. 23 at Patriots (-10.5): Only road game for Buffalo in the final four, although I doubt it will matter from a playoff contention standpoint. Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, the Bills have won just two of 16 games there. In one Tom Brady played just a half (2014) and the other he was suspended (2016). The Pats won 37-16 on Christmas Eve a year ago. Key trend: Bills 5-5 ATS in past 10 as double-digit road dog in series.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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