The Bills surprised many people by going 9-7 last season and making the playoffs for the first time since 1999, ending the longest playoff drought of any team in the four major U.S. pro sports. Their Wild Card playoff game, however, is best forgotten after losing to the Jaguars 10-3 in a game that wasn’t very good. The Bills traded QB Tyrod Taylor to the Browns this offseason for a third-round draft pick, which they turned into DT Harrison Phillips. To fill the quarterback position with Taylor gone, the Bills signed QB A.J. McCarron and drafted Wyoming QB Josh Allen in the first round. They also still have QB Nathan Peterman, who primarily served as Taylor’s backup in 2017. The Taylor deal wasn’t the only trade the Bills made with the Browns; during training camp, they also acquired WR Corey Coleman from Cleveland for a to-be-determined draft pick. Other acquisitions for the Bills this offseason include WR Jeremy Kerley and RB Chris Ivory.
The Bills had the fourth-worst offense in the NFL last season with 4,842 yards and their 302 points were the 11th-fewest in the league. Peterman played in four games last season, including two starts, and threw just 49 passes. He threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns with five interceptions, all coming in his first career start in Week 11 at the Chargers. McCarron only threw 14 passes last season for 66 in three appearances while serving as the backup to Andy Dalton with the Bengals. RB LeSean McCoy was the only Bill to have more than 50 receptions last season; he had 59 for 448 yards and two touchdowns. TE Charles Clay caught 49 balls for a team-high 558 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. In the six games WR Kelvin Benjamin played with the Bills after being traded from the Panthers, he had 16 catches for 217 yards and a score. Rookie WR Zay Jones added 27 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games. With the Jets, Kerley had 22 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown in eight games. McCoy carried the ball 287 times for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns. Ivory had 112 rushes for 382 yards and one touchdown in 14 games — three starts — with the Jaguars. On defense, the Bills were near the bottom of the league in yards allowed and middle-of-the-pack with points allowed.
The Bills open their season at the Ravens, then come home to play the Chargers in Week 2. They face two NFC North opponents on the road after that, taking on the Vikings in Week 3 and the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 4. A home game with the Titans is on deck for Week 5, followed by a road game against the Texans. After a Week 7 visit to the Colts, the Bills host the Patriots and Bears in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively. They visit the Jets in Week 10, then have their bye in Week 11. The Bills host the Jaguars in Week 12, then visit the Dolphins a week later. After a Week 14 divisional battle with the Jets in Buffalo, the Bills host the Lions in Week 15. They finish the regular season with a Week 16 road game at the Patriots and a home contest with the Dolphins in Week 17.
I think the Bills took a step backwards with some of the moves they made this offseason, particularly trading Taylor to the Browns. None of the quarterbacks now on the Bills’ roster are better than Taylor. Allen is obviously a rookie, but I don’t expect him to have a good season, if he gets a chance to play. It was believed that McCarron — who was originally thought to be the frontrunner to be the Week 1 starter — suffered a fractured collarbone in the team’s second preseason game, but further tests indicated that was not the case. It could, however, be a setback that opens the door for Allen to get the starting job after Peterman’s less-than-stellar performances when he was on the field last season. Given the quarterback situation, I’m not sure the trade for Coleman will help the Bills much because of who is throwing him the ball. Another concern for the Bills is the status of McCoy, who could face a suspension during the season for an alleged domestic violence incident. The Bills will have WR Rod Streater, who missed all of last season after he suffered a preseason toe injury. Overall, I think the Bills are the worst team in the AFC East and could win just five or six games. But I don’t expect them to make another playoff appearance.