Let’s get right to it. The Bills Wire team came together and provided how we see the 2020 Buffalo Bills season going.
Here’s how each of our contributors record predictions and the upcoming season:
David De Cristofaro, Contributing Writer
Last season, the Bills bucked most preseason predictions to earn 10 wins and a playoff berth. While the Bills lost in the first round, it was in a game that could have been won. The Bills did that without the improved talent on their already-imposing defense as well as the replenished offensive unit they have now.
Buffalo’s new-look receiving corps is ranked in the top-five in the NFL by analysts, as the Bills added an elite talent in Stefon Diggs to that group as well as a ready-to-contribute addition to the backfield in Zack Moss. Both should translate into opening up the passing game and creating headaches for opposing defenses. With Diggs and Singletary both commanding attention, it should create more playmaking opportunities for returning contributors like John Brown, Cole Beasley and Dawson Knox as well as rookies like Moss and Gabriel Davis. Moss’s catch-and-run abilities could potentially add a Kareem Hunt/Alvin Kamara-like option in the offense.
The defense also added another key piece to pressuring opposing quarterbacks in AJ Epenesa and at cornerback with Josh Norman whose star rose in McDermott’s system back in Carolina. Even at efficiency, Norman’s coverage on No. 2 receivers complementing Tre White could be a nightmare for passers. The way Buffalo defended the Ravens, providing a blueprint for other teams by forcing Lamar Jackson to throw by containing the run jumps to mind… It’s exciting to imagine how adding a player like Norman, with forces like Epensesa, Ed Oliver, Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds collapsing pockets, could help pressure quarterbacks into defensive stops and turnovers.
In terms of players taking a next step in 2020, we have Allen, as the passing game will open up to showcase more of his arm strength throwing downfield. Tight end Dawson Knox, who flashed some big play potential last season, may get more mismatches and open looks with the expanded offensive group. On the defensive side, anticipate Ed Oliver begins to shine in an expanded role in his second year with the team.
Mike Migliore, Contributing Writer
The door is wide open for the Buffalo Bills to win the AFC East for the first time since 1995, when Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” was the no. 1 song on the charts. For years, many Bills’ fans’ greatest fantasy was the idea of Tom Brady leaving the Patriots and going somewhere else where he couldn’t torment the Bills. That is finally the case in 2020 as Brady is now wearing a helmet with a giant pirate flag on it and no longer on the Bills’ schedule. Vegas has made Buffalo the favorite to claim the AFC East title. Will the Bills succumb to these new expectations where they are suddenly supposed to be good?
There are plenty of reasons to think the Bills will finally win a division title and be even better than the squad that went 10-6 a year ago. They add Stefon Diggs to a receiving corps that returns John Brown and Cole Beasley. They subtracted a plodding Frank Gore from the roster and added talented rookie Zack Moss in his spot behind Devin Singletary. They also return the blue-chip pieces of one of the league’s best defenses, all while adding Mario Addision, Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Butler, AJ Epenesa, AJ Klein, and Josh Norman.
Unfortunately for the Bills, they will not enjoy the same schedule they had in 2019. Buffalo goes from having one of the 10 easiest schedules in the league last season to one of the five toughest (projected) schedules in 2020. Teams like the Giants, Washington, Broncos, and the Devlin Hodges’ Steelers have been replaced by the 49ers, Seahawks, Chiefs, and Ben Roethlisberger Steelers. The Bills struggled last season when they took a step up in weight class on the schedule, going 0-5 against teams that won their division a year ago, including the playoff loss to Houston.
Speaking of the playoff loss to Houston, which Josh Allen will show up for the Bills this season? Is it the guy who looked pretty sharp in the first half of that game, or the guy who threw up all over himself as Deshaun Watson and the Texans mounted their comeback in the fourth quarter? The Bills will ultimately go as far as Allen can take them, but there’s still not enough evidence to suggest that Allen will suddenly vault into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.
The Bills are also due to be hit hard by the injury bug, something they have avoided in the last two seasons. If the Bills’ depth is tested, it could result in big regression for the team’s win-loss record.
Still, the Bills have one of the most talented rosters in the league and the benefit of an extra playoff spot to fight for. Under Sean McDermott, the team has seemed to overachieve every year he’s been here. But with a gauntlet of a schedule and the uncertainty of COVID-19 hanging over everything, it’s tough to predict the Bills to be better than they were last season.
Matt Johnson, Podcast host
Buffalo has done a wonderful job of maintaining their 2019 roster, and adding key pieces to improve on last year’s holes. Beane and McDermott went into the 2020 off season with a purpose, grabbing Zach Moss, Gabriel Davis and Stefon Diggs, who I feel will be the most valuable new additions.
Playing a very tough NFC West, and a sneakily strong AFC West this year is no easy feat. Fortunately for the Bills has the best on paper roster in the AFC East to be able to contend with the class of the National Football League.
However, the weight and pressure on Josh Allen has never been higher. He’s improved in his first 2 years, becoming nearly immortalized in the eyes of the Bills faithful fans. If he underperforms, or this team fails to win the AFC East or win at least a playoff game, Allen is most likely to be the scapegoat.
McKenna MIddlebrook, Contributing Writer
The Buffalo Bills turned some heads after last season’s surprising playoff berth and primetime victories over the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers, giving the team more national coverage they’ve had in over two decades. It would be alarmist of me to say that the fate of the Bills season rests on the right shoulder of Josh Allen, but they need to see improvement from their wannabe franchise quarterback. The Bills front office gave him all the tools to succeed in that front as well, such as the addition of rookie running back Zack Moss and the acquisition of star wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Buffalo’s front office set the table for Allen to continue his growth as a quarterback, pair that with another summer of working out and learning Brian Daboll’s offense, Allen should take another step forward. Allen’s progression should see the Bills sweep the lackluster AFC East, and grind out tough wins against Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Denver. While Josh Allen will take the headlines, the Bills defense will still be the backbone of the team. The team added in key areas throughout the offseason, and extended one of the best corners in the league, Tre’Davious White.
It should be a season of progress for the Bills, seeing them take steps to dominate the AFC East for the foreseeable future.
Bradley Gelber, Contributing Writer
To simplify this as much as possible, the team got better, but their schedule got harder. That being said I think the former outweighs the latter. As has been pointed out many times already, the Bills season ultimately falls on Josh Allen’s shoulders. For the Bills to take that next step, finally win the division, and actually make some noise in the playoffs, Allen will have to continue to improve. He is poised to do just that.
With the addition of Stefon Diggs to a receiving corps that already includes John Brown and Cole Beasley, not to mention two talented rookie WRs in Gabrielle Davis and Isaiah Hodgins, Josh Allen has more than enough talent to throw the ball to. Lets not forget promising second year TE Dawson Knox as well as a high-upside RB duo of Devin Singletary and rookie Zack Moss.
Not much needs to be said on the defensive side of the ball. The Bills lost a couple talented pieces in Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips, but more than replaced them with guys like Mario Addison, Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Butler and a now healthy Harrison Phillips. Their secondary remains one of the best in the league, headlined by Tre’Davious White, fresh off his new contract and one of the most underrated Safety duos in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. They also welcome a veteran newcomer in Josh Norman.
The Bills also got better on special teams with the addition of rookie kicker Tyler “big leg” Bass, while welcoming back one of the best returners in the game in Andre Roberts.
This team feels poised to take that next step and while their schedule prevents them from running away with the division, they ultimately win it at 11-5.
Justin DiLoro, Contributing Writer
The Buffalo Bills schedule seems to be a bit more challenging than last season. However, there is a strong reason to believe that this Bills team, with an improved roster, could be better than that team but still end up with a weaker record. That’s some sort of paradox.
Over the first eight weeks of the season, only the Week 6 Thursday night tilt against the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs seems to be one in which the Bills will be big underdogs. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t see Buffalo riding into the midway point of the season at 7-1. However, the other seven games are quite winnable for the Bills.
Buffalo also takes on an AFC East which is in transition. New England is working on passing the baton from Tom Brady to their next solution at quarterback. For now, it’s Cam Newton who will put some heat on the Bills defense. Miami is improved, but Josh Allen has had a field day against them each time the two have played. The New York Jets are vying for a top-five draft pick. Buffalo should finish at least 4-2 in their division.
The second half of the schedule presents more challenges for the Bills. However, the Seahawks and Chargers have to come east. Trips to San Francisco, Arizona, New England, and Denver are part of a difficult stretch, and in the midst of this, the \Steelers come to Bills Stadium. Even so, a strong first half coupled with an average backend will land Buffalo playing in January for the third time in four years.
Nick Wojton, Managing Editor
No game is easy in the NFL, it’s the best of the best for a reason. But it doesn’t appear the folks drawing up Buffalo’s schedule this season were feeling very kind this offseason. This Bills team has a tough task ahead of them in 2020. What could save them is the thing that’s killed them for the 2020 season might be the thing that’s actually killed them in the past, the AFC East.
Breaking down the schedule starting there, the Bills have a look at going 5-1, potentially 6-0 against their division. AFC East games always have a tough feel to them, but the Dolphins and Jets shouldn’t have any answers for Buffalo’s defense. In terms of the Patriots, a split there truthfully feels like I’m even being a little too kind. The Pats did have a ton of players opt out, but we’ll give them one.
In their remaining games, the Bills should find, at minimal, another four wins. The Rams head all the way out east, while the Raiders have a tough first two weeks of their season and could already be sputtering by Week 3 when Buffalo heads to town. The Titans clash is a winnable road game while the Chiefs and Seahawks do present tough tasks, but those two visit Orchard Park. Anything can happen there.
By the time we get to the final quarter of the season, when the Bills host the Steelers, visit the Broncos, head to New England and wrap things up with the Dolphins in town, the Bills might be in a situation where 2-2 in that slate gets them into the postseason.
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