With training camp in full swing and the preseason approaching, Last Word on Pro Football is breaking down the schedules of all 32 NFL teams. This series will consist of the most difficult (1-8) and easiest (9-16) games among each team’s 16-game slate. The focus for this article is the eight easiest games on the 2017 Buffalo Bills schedule.
Buffalo Bills Easiest Games in 2017
9. Week 15: vs Miami Dolphins
For whatever reason, the Bills’ first encounter with the Dolphins in 2017 takes place with three weeks left in the regular season. Much like their Week 13 encounter with New England, it’s the first time in team history their first game of the year against the Fins occurs in December. Last year’s game in Orchard Park (also in December) spelled the beginning of the end for Rex Ryan as Bills head coach. In the case of his replacement, Sean McDermott, Buffalo’s postseason hopes may hinge on him getting a late-season road win over Miami.
10. Week 14: vs Indianapolis Colts
The second leg of Buffalo’s December gauntlet is a home date with the Colts in week 14. These two teams, former AFC East rivals until realignment in 2002, last met in the 2015 season opener, a 27-14 win for the Bills. Andrew Luck struggled that day, throwing two interceptions and finishing with a 63.6 quarterback rating. Buffalo’s pass rush and secondary needs a repeat performance in rendering Luck less effective if they want to emerge victorious over Indy once more.
11. Week 3: vs Denver Broncos
Heading into the Bills second home game of 2017, the overarching narrative will center around whether or not Tyrod Taylor can realize success against Denver’s vaunted pass rush. Von Miller and company certainly won’t take it easy on him. But the Broncos have question marks of their own on offense. Is Trevor Siemian the answer at quarterback or will Paxton Lynch supplant him as starter over the course of training camp and preseason? By the time these two teams face off in Orchard Park, that picture should be clearer.
12. Week 7: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bills’ first game after their bye week is just the second-ever home matchup against the Bucs. That’s right. In ten previous meetings between the teams, only one took place at New Era Field. That game saw Buffalo triumph by a 33-20 scoreline on September 20, 2009. It’s one of just three Bills wins in the history of the series. This year’s matchup will not be easy with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston boasting a plethora of weapons on offense. It includes free agency signing DeSean Jackson and first round draft pick O.J. Howard.
13. Week 10: vs New Orleans Saints
To say that the Bills have struggled against New Orleans in recent history is an understatement. Even though the two teams have met just four times since 2000, the Saints are 4-0 in those games. In fact, Buffalo’s last home win in this series came on October 30, 1983. For the Bills to erase 34 years of frustration, they have to figure out a way to slow down Drew Brees while feasting on a suspect secondary. That unit’s most high profile off-season acquisition is arguably first round pick Marshon Lattimore.
14. Week 5: at Cincinnati Bengals
Last year, these two teams played one of the more uglier affairs of the season with the Bills coming out on top, 16-12. Fans will undoubtedly be hoping for a more entertaining game when they renew pleasantries at Paul Brown Stadium on October 8th. The Bengals reloaded a bit on offense via the draft with the selections of John Ross and Joe Mixon. But the team may struggle in pass protection considering linemen Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth departed for the Browns and Rams respectively. This is probably the second most winnable road game on the schedule.
15. Week 9: at New York Jets
As the easiest game away from home on the Bills 2017 schedule, this one’s a must-win. Buffalo’s lone prime time appearance takes place at MetLife Stadium on Thursday, November 2nd against a Jets team expected to be a dumpster fire in 2017. The team is in clear rebuild mode, having moved on from quite a few veterans in place of younger players. Some, including first round pick Jamal Adams, should make an immediate impact. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Bills need a win in Jersey to have any hopes of getting into the playoffs.
16. Week 1: vs New York Jets
The first regular season game of McDermott’s tenure as head coach is one the Bills should not only win but do so handily. Most observers are pegging the Jets as already on the clock for the 2018 NFL Draft considering how little is expected from them this season. The quarterback position is a hot mess, with 38-year-old Josh McCown the likely starter. An interesting thing to pay attention to in this game is the performance of the Bills rookies. Can Tre’Davious White back up the hype he’s generating after his performance in OTAs? And will Zay Jones immediately become that number two player in the receiving corps as fans are expecting? Either way, opening day always brings excitement and anticipation and this year is no different.
Be sure to check out the eight most difficult games on the Buffalo Bills 2017 schedule.