Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the Buffalo Bills.
It’s been a while since the Bills made the playoffs. It was the 1999 season, to be exact. They haven’t seen much success since then, with only one winning season — a 9-7 record in 2004 — and they’ve gone 6-10 in each of the last three seasons. So head coach Doug Marrone has his work cut out for him if he wants to lead the team to a playoff spot in his second year with the club.
In his rookie season last year, QB EJ Manuel played 10 games — all starts — and didn’t have great results. He averaged fewer than 200 yards per game passing and threw for just 11 touchdowns. His backups, Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel, weren’t great either when filling in for him. As for who the quarterbacks were throwing to, TE Scott Chandler led the team in receiving yards with 655. WR Stevie Johnson, who led his position in receiving yards (597), is no longer with the team after signing with the 49ers in the offseason. The running game was split between RBs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, who had a fairly even split in rushing yards — 933 and 890, respectively — but Jackson had a commanding lead in rushing touchdowns, nine to two.
With the exception of Johnson, most of the offense returns in 2014. Manuel will need a significant improvement over last year’s numbers for the team to have a chance at an improved record over last season. The Bills took WR Sammy Watkins with their first-round pick in this year’s draft. He looks like he could be a playmaker, but he obviously hasn’t done it in the NFL yet so, for now, he is still an unproven commodity. Looking at the Bills’ schedule, they open the season at the Bears with other tough games including a visit to Detroit, a home game against the Chiefs, and back-to-back contests at the Broncos and hosting the Packers. Could it be a fourth straight 6-10 season for the Bills? Maybe. It’s definitely looking like another sub-.500 season in Buffalo.