The Buffalo Bills are facing a tough season ahead after committing to a rebuild under Sean McDermott, despite reaching the playoffs for the first time in 18 years last term.
Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy and McDermott’s defense were the architect behind their surge to the post-season with a 9-7 record in the AFC East.
Buffalo were nowhere near the New England Patriots in the division, but by the grace of the Baltimore Ravens’ late defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals their playoff drought ended.
McDermott’s side played out an uninspiring 10-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road, facing off against former player Marcell Dareus. The defeat in the Wildcard Round brought about a new era in Buffalo, which resulted in Taylor being traded to the Cleveland Browns.
The Bills moved up in the 2018 Draft to acquire Josh Allen to be their quarterback of the future. He was a late riser given his outstanding attributes throwing the ball downfield. Whether he is ready to lead the club forward is another matter.
Tremaine Edmunds fell to the Bills at 16, who could be the best player in the Draft at linebacker. Although there’s promise for the future, McDermott faces the job of his life to avoid a disastrous campaign that could see Buffalo picking in the top five of the 2019 Draft.
The Bills face a huge decision whether to throw Allen into the spotlight immediately. AJ McCarron was traded to the Oakland Raiders, leaving McDermott with the choice of the rookie or Nathan Peterman as their starting quarterback for the season. Peterman threw five interceptions in a half in a defeat to the Los Angeles Chargers last term. Unless he has made a significant improvement in the off-season, the Bills have to go with Allen.
The 22-year-old was not a statistical phenomenon during his college career, throwing 16 touchdowns to six interceptions in his last season for Wyoming. Allen blew away pundits with his testing at the NFL Combine, while his attributes were off the charts when throwing in Indianapolis. Whether it translate to the NFL in regular season action is another matter. Allen displayed a level of poise in pre-season, but there will be no mercy for the rookie when he makes his first start. It could be a difficult campaign for him due to the lack of talent around him.
McCoy has remained one of the leading backs in the NFL. He will be more important than ever in the 2018 campaign to ease the burden on the quarterback position. At the age of 30, he might be on the back nine of his career, while he has had distractions during training camp. McCoy rushed for 1,138 yards in the 2017 season. He has had a lot of carries since entering the NFL in 2009. There comes a point when his body and his play will begin to decline. The receiving corps has minimal talent outside of Kelvin Benjamin, although even he has not been the same since returning from an ACL injury in 2015. There is a lot of pressure on second-year wideout Zay Jones to have a breakout term to give Allen or Peterman a semblance of a target downfield.
McDermott’s defense last season was very similar to his units with the Carolina Panthers. He maximised the talent at his disposal across all three units, utilising the star players to reach the potential. He made a bold move to cut loose Dareus on the defensive line. It allowed the Bills to pursue Star Lotulelei to place in the middle of the defensive line. Lotulelei has not lived up to expectations since being drafted in the first round of the 2013 Draft. In Buffalo under his former coordinator, the 28-year-old could have a new lease of life. Jerry Hughes leads the pass-rushing group with Trent Murphy playing opposite him on the defensive line. Shaq Lawson has to emerge two years removed from being selected in the first round of the 2016 Draft.
Edmunds could be the star needed in the linebacking corps. At the age of 20, the sky is the limit for the Edmunds. He displayed the ability during his college days to be active against the run and the pass. He fits the mould of the new age of linebackers, playing with power and the speed to cover running backs and tight ends downfield. He could be a candidate for defensive rookie of the year as Edmunds will likely never leave the field. The 20-year-old could be the Luke Kuechly of the Bills’ defense that McDermott utilised during his days in Carolina.
The secondary was outstanding for Buffalo last season. Tre’Davious White was brilliant in his rookie campaign, drawing the opposing number one wideouts. He has the confidence to play the position and could develop into an elite cornerback. Vontae Davis could find his best form once again after moving from the Indianapolis Colts. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer were an effective safety combination and they must maintain their high standards to keep the Bills competitive.
The Bills are not strong enough to reach the playoffs this season. Take them to miss the post-season at -1400 and to win under five matches at -133 with 888Sport. Back the Bills to be the lowest scoring team in the NFL due to their issues at quarterback at odds of +800 and for them to have the worst record in the league at +600 with BetOnline. The Bills will be in a battle with the Jets to finish third in the AFC East, take them to finish fourth at odds of +120 with BetOnline.
Although McCoy is not the back he used to be, take him for value to lead the NFL in rushing at +2800 with BetOnline. Edmunds should be one of the leading contenders for the defensive rookie of the year at +1200 with BetOnline as he should be extremely active for the Bills, racking up tackles and sacks. On the other side of the ball, Allen will have his work cut out for him. Take him on value to win offensive rookie of the year at +1000 with 888Sport.
Buffalo Bills To Miss The Playoffs
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Buffalo Bills To Record NFL’s Worst Record
Buffalo Bills To Finish Fourth AFC East
LeSean McCoy To Lead NFL In Rushing
Tremaine Edmunds To Be Defensive Rookie Of The Year
Josh Allen To Be Offensive Rookie Of The Year
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