Bills Season Win Total Prediction
Rex Ryan blew into Orchard Park last January with his patented bravado dialed up to 11, but all the swagger in the world couldn’t mask another disappointing campaign for the Bills. Will things be any different this fall?
While Tom Brady’s four-game suspension at the start of the year should create more parity in the AFC East, handicappers still need to see additional consistency out of Buffalo. Online sports book Bovada.lv puts the win total at eight for Ryan’s group, which finished .500 in 2015. In order to snap a ridiculous playoff drought, however, the Bills must do better than that.
The building blocks, at least on offense, seem strong. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was frequently fabulous in his first 14 NFL starts, racking up 3,603 total yards and 24 touchdowns. Members of the coaching staff are committed to the ex-Raven moving forward, but it would behoove everyone to reduce Taylor’s carries a bit. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, the Virginia Tech product simply can’t absorb a Cam Newton-esque pounding.
Besides, All-Pro LeSean McCoy still sets up shop in the backfield. Even when injuries knocked Shady out of the lineup a season ago, Karlos Williams filled in ably. As McCoy edges closer to that dreaded age of 30, expect Williams to receive further touches. Mike Gillislee, Daniel Herron and Glenn Gronkowski round out the cast of rushers.
Real excitement also exists at wideout, where Sammy Watkins appears ready to take the proverbial next step. After publicly demanding a greater number of targets, the former Clemson sensation went out and excelled as a sophomore in the league. Watkins amassed 60 catches for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns. The only problem pertaining to No. 14: health, or lack thereof. He’s already missed three of a possible 32 contests, and an operation in April to address a stress fracture may jeopardize a significant portion of training camp.
Beyond Watkins, OC Greg Roman needs other youngsters to rise to the occasion. Robert Woods scares nary an opposing defensive mind, and Marquise Goodwin probably draws as much attention for his Olympic track aspirations as his gridiron accomplishments. Tight end Charles Clay, coming off a 52-reception haul, keeps building considerable chemistry with Taylor. Nonetheless, Buffalo had better identify a few extra perimeter options by the time the exhibition schedule commences on Aug. 13 vs. Indianapolis.
Repairing the D (yes, you read that correctly) could require the same amount of care. Rather remarkably, said unit slipped from a No. 4 ranking in yards allowed per tilt (312.2) to No. 19 (356.4) in Ryan’s first go-round. Irrespective of front-four heavyweights Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus, the Bills managed a meager 21 sacks. First-round choice Shaq Lawson figures to snag a lot of reps as soon as his dinged-up shoulder allows, while Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby form one of the finest cornerback tandems in the AFC.
That conference’s legion of game-breakers, though, demands excellence at every level on defense. Ryan clearly doesn’t have enough of his “guys” just yet, but jettisoning non-believers like Williams promises to help reinforce the classic principles we first saw back in the Baltimore days. This year represents a crucial one for the head man, and he won’t disappoint. Expect Buffalo to challenge the double-digit mark in terms of triumphs and enter the final weekend with a chance to return to the postseason dance.
FRIDAY NFL FREE PICK: BUFFALO BILLS OVER 8 WINS (EVEN)