Ranking every 2023 Bills game from easiest to toughest
The Buffalo Bills have been one of the top teams in the NFL in the last couple of seasons, and have improved the talent and depth in their lineman and receiver groups while adding talent to positions on their defense and special teams as well.
It’s a good thing considering that the team ranks in the back end of the top ten most difficult schedules for the 2023 regular season. What’s more, eight of the other teams in that top ten face Buffalo this season.
According to head coach Sean McDermott, quarterback Josh Allen has entered his preparation for the 2023 season with a new sense of focus and determination, and a style of play that is smarter and safer. That and the bolstered offensive group around him could lead to good results.
Amidst adjustments for players, and additions and subtractions to coaching staffs and rosters for both the Bills and their opponents, here’s a look at how this year’s matchups rank from easiest to toughest:
14. Washington Commanders (away)
Few franchises in Sports history have boasted the organizational discord that Washington has across the tenure of team owner Dan Snyder.
While it’s unclear what the team’s future might hold under new ownership, for now, Snyder is still at the helm.
The team is rolling out second-year pro and former fifth-round NFL Draft selection Sam Howell as the team’s starter at quarterback, with more proven journeyman Jacoby Brissett waiting in the wings, as well as former Bills backup Jake Fromm behind him.
The team is still trying to find stability at the quarterback position and will feature the Chiefs former offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy in his first season with Washington, a coordinator that Bills know well. Given his history of not getting head coaching jobs following interviews for vacancies and questions as to whether it was he or the menu-play sheet of HC Andy Reid and the talent of QB Patrick Mahomes that led to his success and two Super Bowl rings, it will be interesting to see how he and Washington look together.
Still, this is a team in transition with star defensive end and pending free agent Chase Young entering his contract year. Suffice to say they are still finding their footing and in their perpetual rebuild as a team. The Bills are in a different stage, competing for a Super Bowl berth, and have a much stronger chance of walking off the field with a win.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (home)
Tampa Bay is without QB Tom Brady, who retired (again), has kicked off a rebuild, and QB Baker Mayfield has entered the chat.
Mayfield led the Browns to the postseason and nearly punched a ticket to the AFC Championship game in a contest against the Chiefs, no less. The next year the Browns failed to protect the starting quarterback and parted ways with him the following offseason. After stops in Carolina and Los Angeles, he will compete for the starting job in Tampa with QB Kyle Trask.
It’s also worth noting he was the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, six spots ahead of Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
Even if the Bucs are just in transition more than rebuild, they were a sub-par team with a sub-par record in a very sub-par division last season, with the Bills once more a favorite to win at the other end of the NFL spectrum as a playoff contender.
12. Denver Broncos (home)
Few teams have had the success shutting down mobile quarterbacks that the Buffalo defense has had in recent seasons, even providing a road map to the rest of the league at times of how to defend certain QBs.
On that note, few teams have had the type of success against the now 34-year-old QB Russell Wilson and his teams as the Bills have had.
While only a preseason matchup, Buffalo downed Denver 42-15 last year, and in 2020 memorably dominated Wilson and the Seahawks 44-34.
The Broncos have a new and accomplished coach in Sean Payton and may prove to be a better team than last year’s debacle, but will still be in a rebuild around Wilson and in transition themselves.
11. New England Patriots (home/away)
The reign of the AFC East has shifted from New England to Buffalo in recent seasons, and Bills versus Patriots games have gone in Buffalo’s favor more often than not during that time.
Since Tom Brady’s departure, the Patriots have been in a rebuild themselves.
Once more they’ll roll out a new offensive coordinator, albeit a familiar one in Bill O’Brien, which will result in a learning curve for their offense. Meanwhile, one of their running backs has jumped ship to Buffalo, in Damien Harris.
The Patriots may be better and will still be a competitor and an important matchup from a divisional standpoint, which will likely provide the Bills the motivation needed against a franchise still climbing back from its fallen former glory and facing the third toughest schedule of 2023.
10. Las Vegas Raiders (home)
The Raiders receiving corps was banged up last season and hardly had the time on the field together to build a rhythm.
With former Patriots and Niners QB Jimmy Garroppolo, who put a good postseason resume together in San Francisco, under center and a healthy offense, it’ll be interesting to see what former Patriots OC turned Raiders HC Josh McDaniels’ squad can do.
If Tom Brady joining the Raiders as a part owner leads to involvement with the health and training, or advising the offense, it could add intrigue.
Even still, this is a team that struggled last season, and only time will tell how quickly they will put it all together on the field. The Bills are in a different boat at the moment and will have that advantage.
9. New York Giants (home)
The Giants had an impressive run under former Bills coordinator turned head coach Brian Daboll, and have made additions in free agency, trades, and the draft to improve.
They are still a program building towards becoming a competitor, and figure to field an improved roster with competitive coaching in Daboll’s return to Buffalo.
Still, they have the fourth hardest schedule in 2023, and the Bills are a Super Bowl contender now, so while the Giants may develop into one in the future, Buffalo has the advantage in the matchup.
8. Miami Dolphins (home/away)
Miami has a talented mobile quarterback who had a good season last year in Tua Tagovailoa, a strong receiving corps, an innovative offensive-minded head coach, and a competitive program.
They also have the second-hardest schedule in 2023, have failed to protect said QB from concussions, have given Buffalo plenty of bulletin board material, and have still been out-gunned by the Bills in the majority of their head-to-head matchups in recent seasons.
They’re looking to improve Tua’s protection and have a capable backup in QB Mike White, but this is still a team that, while competitive, has yet to make meaningful headway in their division.
7. New York Jets (home/away)
Speaking of teams that have yet to make meaningful headway in the AFC East, the J-E-T-S have Y-E-T to do T-H-A-T as well.
Ownership responded by successfully courting four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, hiring the offensive coordinator with whom he won the award following their last campaign together, Nathanial Hackett.
He’ll still have the sixth hardest 2023 schedule to deal with and will have to compete against the Bills defense, which is one of the top units in the league, and their secondary. Rodgers struggled against them in their matchup last season, which Buffalo won 27-17.
The Jets will get RB Breece Hall may be back in time for their season opener which, along with an improved receiver group, will likely make the Jets a bit better than last year. Rodgers’ chemistry with Hackett and his past teammates that have joined the team, and their familiarity with the offense figure to be ready to go.
The Bills are even an early underdog in the game.
Still, the Jets are still in their rebuild and in transition, and Buffalo is a team that has more continuity and experience together with their coaching staff, even despite their off-season additions and coaching changes. The Bills are still the team to beat in the AFC East, they treat division games doubly as of value to win and are reloaded going into the 2023 season.
6. Dallas Cowboys (home)
Dallas has a strong receiver group and roster it’s built under HC Mike McCarthy, and with the shakeup in Philly’s coaching staff alone might have a shot at winning their division, if not already by their own strength of roster.
Nonetheless, Dak Prescott’s regular season injuries and the team’s postseason woes have persisted, and the team’s fallen short annually of their own Super Bowl aspirations.
The Cowboys have been among the league’s more competitive NFC squads and might be again this season.
This Bills team plays best with a sense of purpose, and knowing what a victory at home over the Cowboys would mean to the city and its fans, given the two team’s history with each other, will provide just that.
In their last meeting on Thanksgiving Day 2019, the Bills left Dallas with a 26-15 win. They’ll look to improve on the victory at home.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (London)
Jacksonville proved last season that they can compete and go toe to toe with some of the top teams in the league on the scoreboard, winning the NFC South. They also outdueled the Cowboys in overtime in a high-scoring game,
They’ve added some talent to their roster since then as well.
While Buffalo was victorious the first time the two teams met with Josh Allen under center in 2018 by a score of 24-21,
The Jags got the best of the Bills the last time the two teams faced each other during the 2021 season, 9-6 in a cringy contest and uncharacteristic performance by Buffalo.
Allen and company would love to get a win against an AFC contender on account of the ramifications it could have with overall record and playoff seeding, as well as a victory to help put their last messy loss to Jacksonville behind them.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (away)
With the Eagles coaching staff seeing turnover, including its primary coordinators on both sides of the ball, it’s unknown yet how much that will affect the team’s performance this season.
The have the hardest schedule of any team in the league in 2023, and those opponents have a lot of film to work with to devise their defensive strategy.
I was on the field for both of Philly’s nationally televised losses last season, a Monday Night Football meeting at home against Washington, and Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, AZ against Kansas City.
When a team plays good, purpose-driven football against the Eagles, they have a chance to win, whether it’s the Commanders or the Chiefs. By the time they host Buffalo at The Linc in late November, the Birds will have played through a challenging gauntlet.
3. Los Angeles Chargers (away)
They earned a Wild Card berth, but they lost in the first round of the playoffs.
They’ll host a late-season meeting with Buffalo at SoFi stadium in Los Angeles, where the Bills dispatched the Rams in the 2022 NFL season opener by a final score of 31-10.
The last time the two teams met in November 2020, the Bills won 27-17 and will look for victory again against a since-improved Herbert and Charger team.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (away)
Kansas City is still the reigning top team in the NFL, notably in the postseason coming off another Super Bowl victory.
Still, the Bills have shown up and shown out against them during their regular season matchups, logging victories in each of the team’s head-to-head contests during their 2021 (38-20) and 2022 (24-20) campaigns, respectfully.
KC, however, is rolling out some personnel changes on offense including their receiving corps and offensive line, and will be without offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy for the first time.
They could arguably be the most exposed they’ve been during the Reid/Mahomes era and the Bills will have a chance to gain ground on the Chiefs and AFC with a win.
1. Cincinatti Bengals (away)
At 12-4 last season, the Bengals will host the Bills at home at Cincy in what will be a game rich with backstories leading into the contest.
Not to mention that, while the Bills have fallen short twice against the Chiefs in the playoffs, they’ve been dominant against their rival in their last two regular-season meetings.
Neither can be said about the Bengals who’ve seemingly had Kansas City’s number despite losing to the Chiefs in last year’s AFC Championship game.
Buffalo has had difficulty against their meetings with Joe Burrow and the Bengals, including a lackluster performance and unceremonious exit in the division round of the playoffs at home in Orchard Park.
To say Josh Allen and the Bill will be motivated in this matchup, both on account of last season’s ending as well as what it could mean for standings and seeding in the AFC, might be an understatement.
To say that Burrow and company will be motivated again to prove they are the top team in the AFC would be a safe bet as well.