The Buffalo Bills finished up the 2014 regular season with an overall record of 9-7. While it wasn’t enough for Buffalo to make it’s first postseason appearance since 1999, it was the first time they finished .500 or better since going 9-7 in 2004.

Given the team headed clearly looked to be headed in the right direction, it came as a surprise when head coach Doug Marrone unexpectedly quit on the team. While players and fans likely weren’t happy at the time, it may have been a blessing in disguise.

Buffalo went out and replaced Marrone with Rex Ryan, who the New York Jets sent packing. Ryan struggled in his last few years at New York, but did an amazing job of getting the most out of a team that lacked a lot of talent. The Bills will be hoping he can have the same kind of impact he had in his first 2 years with the Jets, leading them to back-to-back AFC Championship Games.

Last Season
AFC East
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
2nd
9-7
9-7
4-4
5-3
3-13
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
26th
4th
+7
21.4
18.1
2015 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Ronald Darby (CB), John Miller (OG), Karlos Williams (RB), Tony Steward (OLB), Nick O’Leary (TE), Dezmin Lewis (WR)
Additions
LeSean McCoy (RB),  Percy Harvin (WR), Charles Clay (TE), Richie Incognito (OG), Jerome Felton (FB), Matt Cassel (QB), Tyrod Taylor (QB)
Losses
Kiko Alonso (ILB), C.J. Spiller (RB), Da’Norris Searcy (SS), Scott Chandler (TE), Brandon Spikes (ILB), Erik Pears (OG), Lee Smith (TE), Deonte Thompson (WR), Mike Williams (WR),
2015 Schedule & Odds
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 Colts +1.5 0.47
2 Patriots +1 0.49
3 @ Dolphins +2 0.47
4 Giants -3 0.59
5 @ Titans -3 0.59
6 Bengals -1 0.51
7 @ Jaguars -6 0.71
8 BYE
9 Dolphins -2 0.53
10 @ Jets -1 o.51
11 @ Patriots +5.5 0.31
12 @ Chiefs +2.5 0.45
13 Texans -3 0.59
14 @ Eagles +3.5 0.36
15 @ Redskins -1 0.51
16 Cowboys -1 0.51
17 Jets -3.5 0.64
Estimated Wins: 8.24
Roster Breakdown

The offense wasn’t very good last year. Buffalo ranked just 26th in total offense (318.5 ypg) and 18th in scoring (21.4 ppg). A big reason for that was the huge decline in the running game. After finishing 2nd in the league with 144.2 ypg on the ground in 2013, the Bills managed just 92.6 ypg (25th) in 2014.

Ryan is well known for wanting to feature an offense that can run the football, so there’s no question that he was ecstatic when the team pulled off a trade to land Philadelphia Eagles’ LeSean McCoy, who is one of elite backs in the game today. Buffalo has some nice depth behind McCoy in veteran Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown (C.J. Spiller departed).

Having a solid running game is nice, but to win in today’s NFL you have to get strong play out of the quarterback position. It’s something Ryan struggled to find in his tenure with the Jets and it figures to carry over to his tenure with the Bills. Last year, veteran Kyle Orton stepped in for a struggling E.J. Manuel and guided the ship. However, he retired in the offseason. Buffalo has brought in Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor to compete for the starting job with Manuel in 2015. The problem is, all 3 are better served as backups than a starter.

It’s a shame the Bills don’t have a better option at quarterback, as they have some nice weapons on the outside. Wide out Sammy Watkins had a sensational rookie season in 2014, catching 65 passes for 982 yards and 6 touchdowns. Buffalo also added in veteran Percy Harvin and talented tight end Charles Clay to bolster their receiving corps, which also returns two promising 3rd-year players in Robert Woods and Chris Hogan.

It’s not just the quarterback situation that has me concerned about the offense, the Bills have major question marks on the offensive line. Left tackle Cordy Glenn and center Eric Wood are potentially the only two starters returning. They added in Richie Incognito, who didn’t play last year, to start at either left or right guard. The other guard spot figures to belong to 3rd-round rookie John Miller, while they hope 2014 2nd round pick Cyrus Kouandjio can take over at right tackle for Seantrel Henderson.

The good news for the Bills is that if the offense struggles to put up points, they will be able to rely one of the league’s best defenses to keep them in just about every game. Last year the Bills ranked 4th in total defense (312.2 ypg) and 4th in scoring defense (18.1 ppg).

They were extremely strong at stopping the pass (205.8 ypg, 3rd), due in large part to a pass rush that led the NFL with 54 sacks. The scary thing is, that given Ryan’s history of getting the most out of whatever defense he’s apart of, Buffalo could be even better on this side of the ball in 2015.

Last year the Bills ran a traditional 4-3 scheme, but will likely feature more of a hybrid 3-4 look in 2015. Regardless of the formation, they will have two studs up front on the line in Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. When they use a 4-3 look, Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes will line up at defensive ends and when they send out their 3-4 scheme, the two will lineup at outside linebacker.

Buffalo did trade away talented young linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Eagles for McCoy, but one of the reasons they were able to do that, is they what they have in Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown. The two will play the 2 inside spots in the 3-4. Bradham will move to the weak-side in the 4-3, while veteran Manny Lawson figures to come in and play on the strong-side. The only concern with the front 7 is depth, which could come back to bite them if 1 or 2 of their stars go down with a serious injury.

The secondary parted ways with safety Da’Norris Searcy, but figures to remain a dominant unit in 2015. Corey Graham played extremely well at corner last year, but is being asked to fill the void left by Searcy at strong safety and play alongside free safety Aaron Williams. At corner the Bills have a quality starter in Stephon Gilmore and are hoping that Leodis McKelvin or Rondald Darby, who they selected in the 2nd round, will be able to in and play well.

Future Odds
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl L
8.5
33 to 2
42 to 1
Odds Courtesty of 5Dimes
Projections

The Bills are a difficult team for me to predict. I know a lot of people are going to have them making the playoffs, given the addition of Ryan and McCoy to go along with that stout defense, but I’m not as sold on this team as others. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the teams that Ryan has coached the last few years in New York. Great defense, solid running game and horrible quarterback play.

A great defense can only carry you far if you have a decent quarterback and I just don’t think Cassel, Manuel or Taylor are adequate enough to be taken seriously. All 3 are worse than what they had last year with Orton. Given the talent defensively, I won’t call for a decline, but I do have the Bills finished up with the same record as last season at 9-7.

AFC East Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
3rd
3-3
9-7
OVER 8.5
Bills 10-Year Recap
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 9 7 Marrone 6.5
2013 6 10 Marrone 6.5
2012 6 10 Gailey 8
2011 6 10 Gailey 5.5
2010 4 12 Gailey 5
2009 6 10 Jauron/Fewell 7.5
2008 7 9 Jauron 7.5
2007 7 9 Jauron 6
2006 7 9 Jauron 7
2005 5 11 Mularkey 8

Tyler Olson

Tyler Olson
Buffalowdown.com

OVER 8 Wins – If Rex Ryan stays true to the ground game and the defense puts pressure on the quarterback, there’s no reason they should lose more than 8 games. Ryan can’t have as much faith in Buffalos quarterbacks as he did in Mark Sanchez in New York.

Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor
Buffalowdown.com

OVER 8 Wins – The reason I’m taking the over is they have a more favorable schedule than last year when they had 9 wins and the defense!

Bills Fan Thunder

Bills Fan Thunder
BillsFanThunder.com

OVER 8 Wins – Bet the house the farm and your kids on the over. We had more than eight wins last year. Team improvements from the ground up. The over/under on Bills should be 10. We had 9 wins with a terrible coaching staff in 2014. The addition of McCoy at RB is huge! Plus, there have been even more improvements to an already championship quality defense with Darby at corner. Offensive line is much improved also.

David Tilton

David Tilton
Buffalowdown.com

UNDER 8 Wins – In the division, Buffalo will be swept by the Pats for two losses and split with Miami and the Jets for another two losses. I also see losses to Indianapolis, the Giants, Philadelphia, Dallas, Kansas City, and Cincinnati, but even if they beat one of those six, they will still have nine losses.

Our quarterback play will be weaker than last year and I don’t think the running game really carries the team all season with McCoy. I don’t necessary believe McCoy fits Roman’s power style. I watched every one of Lesean’s games last year and he tried to bounce to the outside waaaay too much, a la CJ Spiller for the Bills in years past.

Overall, it will be a disappointing year for a team that has high expectations. Even if the defense is as good as last year, this team won’t be able to win 8 games.

Cam Boon

Cam Boon
Buffalowdown.com

OVER 8 Wins – I think it is a combination of a couple things. They play a weaker out of division schedule (AFC South, NFC East) and get the gift of playing the Cowboys at home in December, a game I think they’ll win. Another thing is that this defense already led them to nine wins against a tough schedule, and now they have one of the best defensive coaches in the game in Rex Ryan at the helm. With the added weapons on offense in LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay, I see the Bills getting to double digit wins this season.

DJ Eberle

DJ Eberle
Buffalowdown.com

OVER 8 Wins – There is no reason why the Buffalo Bills cannot win 10 or more games and make the playoffs. Anything less than 10 games should be a disappointment. With all of the upgrades the front office made in the off-season, the Bills have the talent to make a run at the AFC East title, especially if Tom Brady’s suspension holds. One can make the argument that the Bills have the best roster in the NFL, aside from the quarterback position.

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