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The Bills say, “It’s Our Time”—but is it? Will #14 (4th round draft pick, Sammy Watkins) help end the 14-year playoff drought in 2014?
These questions will be answered in a few months. Some say they are already answered. (Those people need a hug.)
A Review: 2013
To correctly set up the game-by-game predictions below, it seems appropriate to review last year’s predictions. Overall, my predictions were a respectable 9-7. Nine were correct, seven were wrong.
The breakdown is interesting. First, I was two for nine in the first half, and then rattled off seven straight correct picks in the last seven weeks. Impressive! (Except for that first part…)
Even more interesting to me is that I was slightly better at predicting the Bills’ losses than wins. (I suppose that is greatly aided by the Bills giving me ten losses in sixteen games to “get right”. Ugh…)
Well, let’s see if this year will be any better.
2014 season preview
@ Chicago – L (0-1)
Not the way you want to start a season. Especially with rumors of unrest and locker room turmoil, and new ownership on its way, and the angst surrounding the trade up for Sammy Watkins. But the Bears have a really good offense. Two great receivers. A QB who can throw TDs—but he’s also really amazing at throwing the ball to the other team, too. Buffalo’s strongest unit is their defense, which seems to have improved in 2014, despite “losing” Jairus Byrd (they let him go) and the injury to Kiki Alonso. The Bills’ offense is not too shabby, either, and Chicago’s defense has been suspect. Expect lots of points in this game; scores in the mid-to-high 20s for both teams, and higher. But I think the Bears get the win on the last drive or last play.
Miami – W (1-1)
Well, there’s nothing like a Miami home opener to right the ship! It’s always fun when Miami comes to Buffalo in December, but the home opener against the Fins is probably the second best choice. Miami does have some talent (Mike Wallace, Lamar Miller, Knowshon Moreno, and a very solid defense) but Buffalo, at home, in the opener… the Bills should shine, all the way to a 10-point (or more) victory.
San Diego – W (2-1)
This one is hard to pick before I see the Chargers play. I like San Diego this year as one of the better teams in the AFC. The good news for the Bills is, the AFC is fairly weak this year. The Chargers can score points, but maybe not against the Bills rock-solid defense. Pressure, takeaways, stopping the run—all may lead to a Bills victory. Not to mention the home crowd. Pumped up after the division win the week prior, I expect the Bills can outlast the Chargers who travel across the country—after playing the defending Champion Seahawks the week before—to play in Orchard Park.
@ Houston – W (3-1)
This one is also hard to pick. Best part of this game for Bills fans will be facing former starting QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who (along with his beard) remains a Bills fan favorite. The Texans have some great pieces on offense and defense. But, they were the worst team in the league last year. Will Fitz be able to get the ball to their offensive weapons? Will the Bills offense be able to handle Watt and Jadeveon Clowney (and the rest!)? I really don’t know. My gut says Fitz throws a crucial pick late in this game, and the Bills eke out the victory. I’m going with my gut.
@ Detroit – L (3-2)
In the offseason, the Bills lost their stellar defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, but shortly after they gained former Lions HC Jim Schwartz. The defense does not seem to have missed a beat. Schwartz knows defense, and of course, he knows the Lions. With that advantage, there is a chance the Bills can sneak out of Detroit with the win, but I think the Bills find a way to lose this road game: EJ Manuel is still a very young QB, an ill-timed fumble, inability to contain Calvin Johnson… whatever it ends up being, the Bills lose a close game and fall to 3-2.
New England – W (4-2)
Yes. You read the right: win. The Bills have been so close for so long, including last year’s first game in Buffalo against the Pats. This year, this game: Bills win. Brandon Spikes said it would happen, so… Who knows what each team will look like by week seven (injuries, etc) but the Bills should want this game, at their home stadium, and I think they overpower the Patriots on offense and defense. Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, so he can always reverse any amount of great Bills effort, but on this October day in 2014, the Bills get the much-needed victory.
Minnesota – W (5-2)
Adrian Peterson is coming to town. If the Bills run defense has not been tested yet (but it will have been) this will be a great test. The Bills play better at home. They just do. So this day would likely see a fired-up defense, and an adequate offense, and against a Minnesota team that puts all of its hopes on its (amazing) running back. If they can’t stop AP, then they could lose. (But they could still win.) If they can then this game goes easily to Buffalo at home.
@ NY Jets – L (5-3)
One of the Bills worst games last season was in New Jersey against the Jets. This year they face the Jets for the first time on the road, one week before their bye. At 5-2, they’re probably really happy with the way the season has gone… until this day. Rex Ryan and his ample defense find ways to confound the Bills offense more than the Bills defense will be able to compensate for, giving the Jets the win. If it’s really ugly, a big win.
No loss here! (No win, either.)
Kansas City – W (6-3)
This game, in 2013, KC @ Buffalo, did not end the way it “should” have. The Bills played really well, had a big lead, with their third-string quarterback, until that QB threw an INT at the goal line that was returned the other way for a long TD, and then fumbled away the ball the next drive. That’s not likely to happen this year. I know KC has weapons. But I really think they are overrated, and it showed last year as the Bills should have/could have beaten them. That happens this year as they can not overcome our defense, nor stop our offense. Bills win big.
@ Miami – W (7-3)
This game will be tough. Miami will need the win. They are home. The Bills are traveling. But the Bills are better. They have more offensive weapons. They have as good a defense as the Dolphins. Dan Carpenter kicks several field goals to defeat his former team for the second time in 2014: Bills get another road win! Wow!
NJ Jets – W (8-3)
After losing to the Jets on the road, the Bills will need to win this rematch at their own place. It’s getting late in the year, and division wins are really important. Last year, EJ Manuel showed why the Bills picked him over Geno Smith when he looked great against the Jets, and Smith had a QB rating in the single digits, looking awful. The Bills play well at home, and they get a hard-fought, but “easy” victory over the Jets. (Spiller, Jackson, Brown, and Dixon pile up over 200 yards rushing in this game, too.) And the Bills are 8-3?!?!
Cleveland – W (9-3)
One of the games the Bills really, really should have won last year was against Cleveland on a Thursday night. They had the game won until EJ Manuel was injured, then everything fell apart. Assuming a full roster of players, the Bills will avenge that loss and then some. The Bills are just far superior to the Browns. Sorry, Coach Pettine, your return to Buffalo will not be pretty. Bills by thirty. (Or so…)
@ Denver – L (9-4)
The Bills begin their descent to reality with a road game against the Denver Manning. Peyton will find a way to overcome this defense, and the Bills, while giving their best against last year’s AFC Champs, will likely go home with a loss here. This begins a stretch of three road games in four weeks.
Green Bay – L (9-5)
Green Bay is good. Buffalo at home in December is hard to beat. One of those things will have to give in this last home game of 2014, and I think Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will find a way to win this game in Buffalo. They know how to play in cold weather, so that won’t be an issue. The Bills will likely put up a good fight, but the Pack win, handing Buffalo a second-straight loss.
@ Oakland – L (9-6)
If the Bills are as good as their previously 9-3 record would suggest, they need to find a way to win this game. This is the “winnable” game in their last quarter of the schedule. But, the Raiders are improved, and at home, facing the Eastern time zone Bills, Buffalo gets another loss. Third straight. Might the playoffs be in jeopardy?
@ New England – L (9-7)
The Bills have to win this game. They have NEVER won in Gillette Stadium. Ever. Really! Spikes predicted two wins against his former team for his current team in 2014, but can they really do it? Looking at New England’s schedule, I think they will need this game as much as Buffalo. (I think they might need it to salvage a winning season, coming into the game at 8-7.) Tom Brady gets one last win over the Bills, and the Bills will have to wait till 2015 to beat New England in their house.
Funny. I predicted a 9-7 record for Buffalo last season, too. That didn’t turn out so well. Maybe this is the year the Bills actually do play up to their potential?
It begins today! Buffalo @ Chicago at 1pm. Go Bills!