Bills head coach Sean McDermott often remarks in his post-game locker room talks that “winning isn’t easy in this league.”
That’s true in the NFL.
On any given game day, a team can take the field and have their best performance of the year, underdog or not.
Some teams and matchups are easier on paper, however.
An advantage that has seemingly caused this Bills team to take their foot off the gas at times in recent seasons, losing some matchups they were lopsided favorites. An area that is in need of correction.
Suffice it to say the team will look to do just that in their upcoming campaign, taking no opponent for granted.
That being said, here are the five easiest games on the Bills 2023 schedule:
5. Miami Dolphins (home)
It’s a close call as to whom the fifth easiest game matchup will be for Buffalo.
They’ll host several teams on the rise at home.
One AFC squad with a playoff-proven starter in Jimmy Garropolo inheriting a Niners-like corps of offensive weapons who are a threat when healthy.
Another? Bills front office staple Joe Schoen and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s Giants squad. With Schoen at the helm and Daboll installed as their head coach, their NFC team from New Jersey will have internal insight into this Bills roster and playcalling.
Still, despite their turning the Giants around in their first season with the franchise and, like Buffalo, making the playoffs last season and exiting in the divisional round, they are still a rebuilding roster.
Finally, the team that Josh Allen and the Bills love to beat. The AFC rival Miami Dolphins.
If it were based on last season’s performance, the Raiders would be an obvious choice, but the aforementioned offensive weapons were rarely on the field at the same time due to injuries. Plus they didn’t have a veteran QB with Super Bowl and deep playoff run experience under center.
Now they have just that.
The Giants figure to be better having added to their arsenal on both sides of the ball in free agency and the draft as well.
What makes the Dolphins the fifth easiest matchup on paper, is Buffalo’s familiarity with the Miami offense and success defending it. But also their own offensive track record against Miami’s new defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio.
In their last two meetings, while Fangio was with the Broncos, the Bills won both contests convincingly, with final scores of 20-3 and 48-19, respectively.
In the second meeting, Josh Allen went 28-for-40 for 359 yards and two touchdowns to go with a 138.7 passer rating while adding 33 yards and two touchdowns rushing.
All five of these matchups, as well as the runners-up for fifth, are early in the season, and most of them feature changes at key coordinator positions that will leave these opponents vulnerable due to the learning curve from installing new playbooks and schemes.
Time will tell which team will perform better sooner in the 2023 season, and who will prove to be the easier or more difficult matchup.
That being said, the competitive nature with which the Bills play against Miami, combined with the flush of new talent at the line and in the backfield and receiving corps, as well as Allen’s new sense of determination and level of commitment and the team outlook that division games count double, all suggest Buffalo will be aggressive in this matchup.
And Fangio’s defense is what could make it the fifth easiest game in the 2023 schedule.
4. Denver Broncos (home)
Buffalo’s track record defending Russell Wilson, whose mobility isn’t what it once was and will have to rely more on his arm, is a big reason for the Broncos slotting in as the fourth easiest matchup.
But the biggest is yet another change at head coach for the perpetually rebuilding Broncos.
To their credit, they netted one of the top coaches on the market in Sean Payton, which figures to make the matchup competitive similar to those with Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
Still, this is a team being reconstructed.
Buffalo is a team who has had plenty of experience and frequent success in defending by containing and limiting mobile quarterbacks and will have an elder mobile QB in Wilson under center against a tough Bills defense.
The last time they met in the regular season while he was with the Seahawks, Buffalo came out on top 44-34, and Buffalo picked Wilson off twice. Coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, he’ll certainly be looking to bounce back, but Buffalo at home will have other plans.
3. New England Patriots (home)
Bill O’Brien will be calling the plays for New England’s offense, which figures to be an improvement from last season.
Nonetheless, this franchise is still inching its way back to fielding a competitive roster after previously committing salary cap commitments and draft picks to a team built around Florida retiree Tom Brady.
The Patriots figure to be similar to the team that took the field last season in terms of the challenge they present, one that is not to be taken for granted but is also behind Buffalo and, arguably, the other teams in the division with the Jets addition of Aaron Rodgers.
The Patriots will travel to Buffalo early in the season to test out their offense against a Bills defense that loves them some Mac Jones at quarterback.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (home)
Speaking of teams with a quarterback transition.
The Bucs have a QB competition going on in camp right now between former No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Baker Mayfield, and an incumbent depth chart leftover from another roster built around Uggs spokesperson Tom Brady, Kyle Trask.
The Bills famously moved up to take Josh Allen six picks after Mayfield.
The Bucs are now a team without an identity and some holdover veteran players who may be looking to move on if they don’t have stability at quarterback. The Bills left Tampa with a loss following their last meeting and will be looking for a win to rinse that one off.
While Mayfield might develop with this offense to become just that as he did with the Browns and in parts of a short run with the Rams, his shakey stint with Carolina (along with their other quarterbacks) forecasts what those unions can look like when the front office gives a teams offense talent under center in a bad system.
The Bucs are hoping one of these QBs works out and didn’t pursue the other top players on the free-agent market at the position.
This is a team in transition regardless and may be on the brink of a total rebuild. Time will tell which one it is, but Buffalo should have an easier outing compared to most on the schedule.
1. Washington Commanders (away)
Make no mistake about it, this is one of the easiest matchups on the Bills schedule.
Second-year pro and former fifth-round NFL Draft selection Sam Howell is currently slotted in to start at quarterback to open the season. The quarterback that gives the commanders the most experience as a starter and arguably the best chance to win, Jacoby Brissett, is backing him up, and former Bills backup Jake Fromm is behind him.
Taylor Heineke commanded leadership in the locker room and beat teams like the Eagles in Philadelphia last season. He’s gone.
And the Bills have one of the top-tier defensive units in the NFL. One that is all too familiar with Washington’s new offensive coordinator, former Chiefs play caller Eric Bienemy. Not only that, Bills HC Sean McDermott, who will be calling defensive plays this season, also intimately knows Washington HC Ron Rivera’s system having been his defensive coordinator in Carolina.
Washington figures to be one of the easiest matchups in 2023 for Buffalo.