Buffalo Rumblings writing staff season predictions

Buffalo Rumblings writing staff season predictions

Today the the Buffalo Bills begin their 2017 NFL season. Over the past month and a half, expectations have slowly crumbled for the season as the Bills appeared to take a long-term view of the roster and trade some of the biggest names.

Here at Buffalo Rumbling, a group of our writers came together to deliver our season-long predictions. As you might have guessed, we aren’t very optimistic on Buffalo’s playoff chances. What are your predictions?

Dylan Zadonowicz

Prediction: 6-10, 3rd place in the AFC east

Week-by-week:

Week 1 vs Jets - W

Week 2 at Panthers - L

Week 3 vs Broncos - L

Week 4 at Falcons - L

Week 5 at Bengals - W

Week 7 vs Buccaneers - L

Week 8 vs Raiders - L

Week 9 at Jets - W

Week 10 vs Saints - L

Week 11 at Chargers - W

Week 12 at Chiefs - L

Week 13 vs Patriots - L

Week 14 vs Colts - W

Week 15 vs Dolphins - W

Week 16 at Patriots - L

Week 17 at Dolphins - L

Reasoning:

The Bills got worse over the offseason. Coach McDermott will tell you differently, but it’s simply not true. Trading two of their best up-and-coming stars on both sides of the ball for picks and less valuable players was clearly a red flag and the main reason they had gotten worse. Wide receiver, running back, linebacker, cornerback and safety are all groups where the Bills have noticeably regressed in terms of talent and depth since 2016.

Tyrod Taylor’s success will be a heavy factor in the team’s ability to win games, with unfamiliar faces that will be a challenge on its own. Sammy Watkins was the only receiver Taylor had his full trust in on the field. Even when injured, Watkins found the ball coming his way. Watkins was able to track deep balls well and was part of the reason Tyrod’s deep ball looked so good at times. Now Brandon Tate is the only familiar face on the roster to start the season.

Smaller moves like releasing Gerald Hodges, a capable linebacker, second year running back Jonathan Williams and second year potential breakout player Kevon Seymour didn’t help their case in selling this season as a “win now” one. The Bills are finally transitioning back to a 4-3 base defense, which is going to help that side of the ball. The front four will be a lot more comfortable than they have been for the last two seasons. Still, the secondary is more than likely going to struggle a bit. Once again, all new faces in the back end of the defense. Communication can get fuzzy at times for guys who haven’t played together.

Sorry Bills fans, the drought will become a legal adult. For someone like myself, who is only a couple of years older than the drought itself, it’s tough to watch. However, the future looks bright with a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Six (!) picks in the first three rounds of the 2018 NFL draft will be the key to this team’s future. The Bills brass is betting on themselves to be successful next draft season. Finding a future franchise quarterback is the backbone to every team’s success and hopefully 2018 is truly the year of the quarterback.

John Boccacino

Prediction: 8-8, 2nd place in the AFC East

Week-by-week:

Week 1 vs Jets - W

Week 2 at Panthers - L

Week 3 vs Broncos - W

Week 4 at Falcons - L

Week 5 at Bengals - L

Week 7 vs Buccaneers - W

Week 8 vs Raiders - W

Week 9 at Jets - W

Week 10 vs Saints - L

Week 11 at Chargers - L

Week 12 at Chiefs - L

Week 13 vs Patriots - L

Week 14 vs Colts - W

Week 15 vs Dolphins - W

Week 16 at Patriots - L

Week 17 at Dolphins - W

Reasoning:

First-year head coach Sean McDermott has told Buffalo Bills fans to trust the process, and many prognosticators, along with many Bills fans, don’t feel too optimistic about Buffalo’s chances of snapping this absurd 17-year playoff drought. Count me among those who don’t see the Bills making the playoffs, but I’m not as down on this team as others. It all comes down to two things: how well quarterback Tyrod Taylor plays in this make-or-break season, and how much improvement McDermott’s revamped 4-3 defense shows.

The team hasn’t done Taylor any favors on paper by trading away his top receiver, Sammy Watkins, and letting his No. 2, Robert Woods, leave via free agency. But in reality, Jordan Matthews is a talented possession receiver, and in 2017, he proves he can be a valuable weapon for Taylor. Promising rookie Zay Jones develops into a solid security blanket for Taylor operating out of the slot. The team looks good operating new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s west coast offense, featuring both quick-strike and play action passes and frequent rollouts from Taylor. Returning the entire offensive line, which paved the way for LeSean McCoy and other running backs to lead the NFL in rushing yards per game (164.4) and adding in talented rookie Dion Dawkins should help Buffalo once again be among the league leaders in rushing as Shady proves he still has plenty of life in his legs. Charles Clay established a nice rapport down the stretch with Taylor, and he and Nick O’Leary thrive in Dennison’s offense, which likes to employ two tight ends.

Rex Ryan’s defenses in Buffalo always possessed great talent but came up short, committing mind-numbing penalties while allowing back-breaking big plays that led to heartbreaking losses. The defensive line, with the talented-but-troubled Marcell Dareus, will need to harass and hurry opposing quarterbacks to take the pressure off an inexperienced secondary. Buffalo will once again boast a formidable front four. Look for Jerry Hughes to turn in another monster season, posting double-digit sacks while constantly disrupting plays in the backfield. Kyle Williams may be old (34), but he enjoys a nice bounceback season playing alongside Shaq Lawson and pre-season sensation Eddie Yarbrough as the Bills rank in the top 10 in the NFL for sacks. Talented first-round draft pick Tre’Davious White immediately steps in and makes Bills fans forget all about Stephon Gilmore, and the versatile Micah Hyde adds a play-making dimension to the secondary. McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will prove up to the task in turning around this Bills defense.

Look for Buffalo to pull off an upset or two (beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders in consecutive weeks at New Era Field) while also setting the stage for a bright future with six draft picks in the first three rounds of next May’s NFL draft.

Dan Lavoie

Prediction: 5-11, 3rd place in the AFC East

Week-by-week:

Week 1 vs Jets - W

Week 2 at Panthers - L

Week 3 vs Broncos - L

Week 4 at Falcons - L

Week 5 at Bengals - W

Week 7 vs Buccaneers - L

Week 8 vs Raiders - L

Week 9 at Jets - W

Week 10 vs Saints - L

Week 11 at Chargers - L

Week 12 at Chiefs - L

Week 13 vs Patriots - L

Week 14 vs Colts - W

Week 15 vs Dolphins - W

Week 16 at Patriots - L

Week 17 at Dolphins - L

Reasoning:

No matter what Sean McDermott would tell you, the 2017 Buffalo Bills are not structured on paper to compete for a playoff position. The depth chart is lush with aging veterans, and the roster is oddly skewed toward certain positions - four tight ends and five running backs, only nine defensive backs, no true backup middle linebacker. The Bills finished phase one of a massive fire sale during the preseason, completely overhauling their roster with players handpicked for the team’s new philosophy.

Schematically, the team should be in a good place. While Tyrod Taylor looked awfully uncomfortable in the preseason, Rick Dennison’s offense hypothetically has a slew of plays that can make use of his legs and deep ball - they just weren’t shown. Even if that isn’t the case, the overall route combinations and run blocking scheme are suitable for the other players Buffalo carries. The 4-3 defense that McDermott and Leslie Frazier will draw up is a good fit for Buffalo’s personnel, even if a couple of the linebackers aren’t ideal. The issue is just a lack of overall talent relative to the slate of teams they’ll face.

If there are any easy wins on this schedule, they might come against the Jets, who sold off even more of their players and have the worst quarterback situation in the league. The team might also have a shot against the Dolphins, playing the team at the end of a season where they lost their bye week to a Hurricane. A few other games have potential. The Broncos (quarterback), Bengals (offensive line), and Saints (linebackers) have key weaknesses that Buffalo could exploit on a good day for a win. The Raiders went 8-1 in one score games last year, a lucky streak suggesting a regression, but their roster is likely too talented for Buffalo. While the Bills will play Indianapolis late in the season, after a potential Andrew Luck return, the Colts just don’t have a good team, and I think the Bills could win it.

What happens if the Bills go into the week six bye with a losing record? If the team is 1-4 by then, it’s the inflection point allowing rookie Nathan Peterman to get his shot. Buffalo shouldn’t be in position for a winning record this year, but that’s okay. They have six top-100 picks in next year’s draft, and they’ll need them. Foremost is the quarterback requirement, but they’ll also need to replace two or three starting linebackers, a starting receiver, and defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who will be a 35 year old free agent heading into the 2018 season.

Josh Rawdin

Prediction: 5 - 11, 3rd place in the AFC East

Week-by-week:

Week 1 vs Jets - W

Week 2 at Panthers - L

Week 3 vs Broncos - L

Week 4 at Falcons - L

Week 5 at Bengals - L

Week 7 vs Buccaneers - L

Week 8 vs Raiders - L

Week 9 at Jets - W

Week 10 vs Saints - L

Week 11 at Chargers - L

Week 12 at Chiefs - L

Week 13 vs Patriots - L

Week 14 vs Colts - W

Week 15 vs Dolphins - W

Week 16 at Patriots - W

Week 17 at Dolphins - L

Reasoning:

Let’s just all come out and say it, the Bills are going to be bad this year. They’ve recessed from last year at almost every position on the field. On offense their quarterback is in a scheme not suited to his skills, the running back is closer to the dreaded 30 year old tipping point, their two best wide receivers from last year are gone, and the offensive line is banged up. On defense their two best corners are gone, the safety position has been completely revamped, and the linebacking corps features a 34 edge rusher with one good NFL season, and a 30 year old linebacker with fewer than 20 starts over his 9 year career. All of those changes, plus a rookie head coach, lead me to a prediction of 5 wins this season for the Bills.

Why those five wins? Well, thankfully for the Bills, the Jets are trying to be the worst NFL team to ever set foot on a football field and the Bills get to play them twice. There’s two wins for the boys in red, white, and blue. The other three come in a row at the end of the season against the Colts, Dolphins, and Patriots. I’m picking a win over the Colts because they have done little to help Andrew Luck stay healthy and lead their offense. Also, it is a December home game against an indoor team. I’m predicting a Dolphins win because it is also a December home game and I don’t think Jay Cutler will be a big fan of that weather. My shocker pick is a win against New England at Foxboro at the end of the year. Think about it, it would be the Drought-iest thing for the team to be sitting at 2-10, rip off two home wins in a row, and then cap it off with a road win against a division foe, thus knocking the Bills out of a top 3 draft pick. Oh, and I am predicting the Patriots to have the division and playoffs locked up and Brady, Gronk, and all other important personnel on the bench.

After reading that prediction over, I sound like the most pessimistic Bills fan out there. I might be up there, but I would love for my prediction to be wrong. I rather not see The Drought reach legal voting age, but I am not getting my hopes up. #TrustTheProcess

Will Kennedy

Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place in the AFC East

Week-by-week:

Week 1 vs Jets - W

Week 2 at Panthers - L

Week 3 vs Broncos - L

Week 4 at Falcons - L

Week 5 at Bengals - L

Week 7 vs Buccaneers - L

Week 8 vs Raiders - L

Week 9 at Jets - W

Week 10 vs Saints - W

Week 11 at Chargers - W

Week 12 at Chiefs - L

Week 13 vs Patriots - L

Week 14 vs Colts - W

Week 15 vs Dolphins - W

Week 16 at Patriots - L

Week 17 at Dolphins - W

Reasoning:

Typically, especially the last few years, when a football season starts I am full of optimism. This season however, I find optimism hard to muster. Let’s face reality for a second: the Bills are not going to the playoffs this season. There are far too many question marks throughout all three phases of the game. If the preseason is any indication of what will happen in 2017, Tyrod will take a big step back and will prove to the franchise that he is not the QB of the future. The linebacking corps is old, if a safety gets injured, they’re screwed, and paired with a first year NFL coach, I don’t like those odds.

I gave the Bills seven wins this season, and honestly that might be extremely generous. The Bills get to play the dumpster fire team in New Jersey twice, so that should be two of the seven victories. Two more wins come when Buffalo takes on the Dolphins. I think Jay Cutler does Jay Cutler things and the Bills do just enough to win. I also have the Bills beating the Saints, Chargers and Colts. All of those games I view as toss ups in reality. The Colts struggle to protect their quarterback, Saints have a lackluster roster, especially on defense and I see the Chargers as about equal with the Bills in most categories.

This team has a lot of draft picks next year and are setting themselves up well for the future. That being said, when this season ends I still think I’ll be able to say the last time the Bills made the playoffs I was 5 years old. I say the drought turns 20 and we crack the playoffs right before the drought can drink. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Anthony Marino

Prediction: 9-7, 2nd place in the AFC East

Week-by-week:

Week 1 vs Jets - W

Week 2 at Panthers - W

Week 3 vs Broncos - W

Week 4 at Falcons - L

Week 5 at Bengals - W

Week 7 vs Buccaneers - L

Week 8 vs Raiders - L

Week 9 at Jets - W

Week 10 vs Saints - W

Week 11 at Chargers - L

Week 12 at Chiefs - L

Week 13 vs Patriots - L

Week 14 vs Colts - W

Week 15 vs Dolphins - W

Week 16 at Patriots - L

Week 17 at Dolphins - W

Reasoning

Every year I basically get the Bills to 9-7, and sometimes I despise myself for my constant optimism around this team. The 4-0 record against the Jets and Dolphins is at the core of the team’s success, as well as winning games against mediocre teams such as the Broncos, Panthers, Saints, and Bengals. I do not see 9-7 being enough to get the Bills to the playoffs, but it will prolong the quarterback controversy around Tyrod Taylor and what the team will do at the position in the near future.

Source : https://www.buffalorumblings.com/2017/9/10/16281906/buffalo-bills-2017-season-predictions-buffalo-rumblings-writers-tyrod-taylor-sean-mcdermott

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