Did Bills “Win” Schedule?

NFL Buffalo
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Just like you, I love when we can look at the games. 

How many prime time games? When’s the bye? What week is the shot at that team in the division that never loses?

What I have no interest in is the inevitable follow-up: the game by game predictions. 

There hasn’t been a draft. We haven’t seen the new coordinator’s offense. We have no idea if that rookie coach can get through a press conference (cough, cough… Bryan Price), let alone use timeouts properly.

Guessing wins and losses this time of year is an insult to “how many fingers am I holding up behind my back?”

What we can look at is how the schedule fell for a team. Who do you catch coming off a bye? Which game might your opponent be looking ahead? When are the road games?

That’s what we’ll do with the Bills’ 2015 schedule. Each game will be a “win” or “loss” depending if it will be more or less likely to be won than if played August 1st with a month off before and after. 
Granted, it’s a pretty broad brush… but, until you get a job on this here website… I get to make the rules. 

Week 1: vs. Indianapolis
Rex Ryan was 5-1 in openers with the Jets, with all but one at home. His teams looked surprisingly good in two of them, including a 20 point shellacking of a Buffalo team with high (but as usual, unrealistic) hopes. Indy will have zero film of a Rex scheme with the Bills uber talented defense. Andrew Luck will be learning on the fly, in a Ralph Wilson Stadium that will (again!) feel the sky is the limit. This is the kind of game that could swing tiebreakers four months later and it plays right into the Bills hands. WIN

Week 2: vs. New England
As the Super Bowl winner, the Patriots will get to open on a Thursday and will have extra rest. I don’t think it’s much of an advantage the second week of the season. Again, there will still be limited Rex-Bills film and the Patriots tend to struggle (for them) more in the first half of the season. They’ve lost one of their first two road games five of the last seven seasons, and lost their third road game in the other two. This year, New England has Dallas and Indy on the road after Buffalo. So, lots of loss potential, but why not the Bills? WIN

Week 3 at Miami
After two hyped up home games, Buffalo’s first road trip will be to hot and sticky Miami. The Dolphins begin with two on the road, but it’s Washington and Jacksonville. They could be 2-0 with a rare home crowd that’s actually rooting for the home team. The Bills could be primed for a letdown, walking into a hornet’s nest with weather that screams “I’m done”. LOSS

Week 4 vs. Giants
The Giants will be the first team with an acceptable amount of film to watch on the Rex Bills defense and will be coming off home games against Washington and Atlanta. This game is the start of a murderous stretch for New York with San Fran, Philly and Dallas to follow. Their season may be circling the drain after that, making the Giants an easier win later on. For this one, however, there should still be high hopes for a Giant upset. LOSS

Week 5 vs. Titans
Tennessee is coming off their bye and may even be 2-1 with Tampa and Cleveland to start. The Bills likely get a feisty, rested team. LOSS

Week 6 vs. Cincinnati
Of the last 11 teams Seattle played in 2014, ten lost the following week. The only exception was St. Louis… who faced the Seahawks the last week of the season. 
Guess who Cincinnati plays the week before the Bills? WIN

Week 7 vs. Jacksonville in London
I think getting the Jags in a non-normal NFL situation is a plus for the Bills. Assuming Jacksonville is Jacksonville and headed toward another irrelevant season, the distraction of London plus a bye the following week may keep the Jags from full focus. They could be riding a high with winnable games against Tampa and Houston the two previous weeks, but it will take a near perfect seven days of preparation for Jacksonville to pick off Buffalo. I don’t think that happens in London. WIN

Week 9 vs. Miami
Rex Ryan went 1-5 after bye weeks with the Jets. The last three of those losses were by a combined score of 103-24. That’s not the spot where the Bills wanted a division home game. Not to mention, Bills fans normally like to see the Dolphins come north a few weeks later in the year. LOSS

Week 10 at Jets (Thursday night)
A road trip on a short week is always tough, even if the trip is a 50 minute plane ride. The Jets’ schedule isn’t so difficult that rookie coach Todd Bowles will be overwhelmed by the time Buffalo comes to town. Usually in the coach vs. old team game, it’s the team that has more motivation. Fred Jackson and Kyle Williams play the Jets every year, but the Jets have never gotten a chance to beat Rex. The recent war of words between Ryan and Jace Amaro only stokes the fire. The Bills wanted the first Jets game at the Ralph. LOSS

Week 11 at New England (Monday Night)
While Rex is 1-5 after byes, he’s 4-2 after Thursday night games. The Bills will have the extra rest because the Pats play on Sunday the prior week. Not that the Patriots will overlook any division game or one against Rex Ryan, but they do have their annual battle with Peyton Manning the following week. All in all, a very good spot to make the trip to Foxboro. WIN

Week 12 at Kansas City
This time, Buffalo has the shorter rest and it’s their third road game in a row. This will also be the sixth consecutive week where the Bills will not have the same schedule as the previous week (London, bye, Sunday game, Thursday game, Monday game, Sunday game). Arrowhead is brutal enough, but getting a win in this spot is a tough ask. LOSS

Week 13 vs. Houston
A hard one to figure. The Texans don’t have a very daunting schedule with four games against the Jags and Titans, plus one each against the woeful NFC South. They will be coming off winnable home games against the Jets and Saints. The Bills would have liked a cookie after their daunting three-game road trip. There aren’t many of those anywhere on Buffalo’s 2015 schedule and Houston probably doesn’t qualify. LOSS

Week 14 at Philadelphia
Whatever Chip Kelly is brewing in Philly, it probably won’t be ready for tasting right away. If Kelly knows what he’s doing, the Eagle stew should be on full boil by December. Buffalo wanted this game earlier. Philly has New England the week before and Arizona the week after. So, there’s a chance for a bit of a letdown against the Bills. However, this will be the “did we win the McCoy-Alonso trade” game. I think Chip (on his shoulder) will have his green birds ready. LOSS

Week 15 at Washington
A game the Bills should win, but it’s the fifth of six on the road and after five games that could be wars. It wouldn’t be the first time in-contention Buffalo dumped a road game against a team they should beat (Oakland). This game even two or three weeks earlier would have been a better spot. LOSS

Week 16 vs. Dallas
For a warm weather dome team, the Cowboys are actually pretty good playing outside, December games in the northeast: 7-3 since 2009 including wins in their last four. The Dallas schedule takes a considerable jump up in difficulty from last season. The Cowboys are the only team who faces both Seattle and New England this year, plus a trip to Lambeau. If Dallas struggles, their season could be in crisis by the time they make it to Buffalo. At the very least, Tony Romo’s back has to survive 14 games before the Bills have to face him. A mostly neutral spot for this game, but if anything… WIN

Week 17 vs. Jets
In the final week of the season, it’s rare for a team with nothing to play for to beat a team that needs the game. There isn’t a team in the AFC East that would be a shock to make the playoffs, but the Jets are the least likely of the four. If their season is over, the Jets will be a patsy for Buffalo at the Ralph. Of the six division games, this would be the one Buffalo would pick for week 17. WIN
 
That totals to a 7-9 record. That means, in my opinion, the Bills got hurt a bit by the layout of their schedule. Most of the damage is the five road games in six weeks. 

In the end, injuries will play the biggest factor, but don’t waste your time guessing at those. 

Stick to the fingers. 

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