A year after the Buffalo Bills finished 9-7 and earned their first playoff berth since 1999, they returned back to their Bills-like ways and finished 6-10 in 2018. Bills fans got their first taste of the Josh Allen era, who started 11 games and produced a 5-6 record. Allen played as early as Week One, relieving the mess that was the Nathan Peterman experiment.
Though there is reason for optimism from a near .500 record from a rookie quarterback, the Bills coaching staff knows their offense must improve to find success. Buffalo finished 30th out of 32 teams with 16.8 points per game, and scored six points or less on four different occasions. To shake things up, general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott were busy in the off-season. They signed free agent wide receivers Cole Beasley, John Brown, and Andre Roberts. They also signed journeyman running back Frank Gore to replace Chris Ivory, and tight end Tyler Kroft to replace Charles Clay. In addition, the Bills beefed up their offensive line with the signings of center Mitch Morse, tackle Ty Nsekhe, and selected tacked Cody Ford out of Oklahoma with their second round draft pick.
It is no secret that the 2019 Buffalo Bills season finishing as a success relies heavily upon the progression of Allen. Here are some bold predictions for how Buffalo’s season will play out!
Five Bold Predictions for the 2019 Buffalo Bills Season
Josh Allen Finishes in the Top 15 in TD:INT Ratio
Since Buffalo needs a big second year out of Allen, it is only fitting that he is the subject of our first bold prediction. In 12 games in 2018, Allen finished with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. For him to finish this year in the top half of the league in TD:INT ratio would be tremendous progress. A second year to learn and develop under offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s system will help, as will Allen’s new receiving corps. Look for Daboll and McDermott to get back to more of the ground and pound style that was successful in 2017, which will also make things easier on their quarterback.
LeSean McCoy Will Not Lead the Team in Rushing
If this comes true, it would be the second year in a row that their star running back didn’t lead the team in rushing. Raise your hand if you knew the Bills rushing leader in 2018 was. None other than their quarterback Josh Allen! Buffalo enters 2019 with a plethora of established running backs. McCoy, Gore, and T.J. Yeldon all have tons of experience and are joined by this year’s third-round draft pick Devin Singletary.
It would be hard to believe that Buffalo goes into the regular season with all four running backs on their active roster. This makes preseason performance critical as they all jockey for positioning on the depth chart. After 200+ touches in every year of his career since his rookie year, McCoy only toted the rock 161 times in 14 games last year. His health is a concern lately as he has only played a full season once in the last four years. Look for McDermott to spread the carries around and ride the hot hand game-to-game, resulting in McCoy being the odd man out more often than not.
3. Ed Oliver Will Finish Top Three in Defensive Rookie of the Year Voting
Ed Oliver was an absolute beast at Houston, routinely facing double teams and still causing havoc in the backfield. He won the 2017 Outland Trophy which is awarded to the best interior lineman and he is the AAC career leader in tackles for loss. In the early part of last season, he was garnering Heisman attention which is unheard of for a defensive tackle.
18 defensive players were taken in the first round of this year’s draft, and five were taken before Oliver was selected with the ninth overall pick. However, the Bills are the best fit for Oliver, as he will step right into the role that Kyle Williams manned for the last 13 seasons. Pundits say Oliver is undersized for an NFL defensive tackle, yet his combine numbers measure up compared to those of star lineman Aaron Donald. Defensive minded McDermott will put Oliver in positions to maximize his skill set, and he will burst onto the scene right out of the gate.
No Bills Wide Receiver Will Finish Top 50 in the League in Receptions
McDermott knows the best plan for getting the Bills back to the playoffs. Maximizing Allen’s efficiency with high percentage throws while leaning on the running game and a strong defense is their recipe for success. Throw in the fact that it can feel like the arctic in early November in Buffalo, and I don’t see much throws to go around. Robert Foster finished the second half of last season with three 100 yard receiving games, yet was targeted more than five times just twice. Now that he will be competing for receptions with Brown, Beasley and Zay Jones, this makes the Bills receiving corps one to avoid for fantasy purposes.
The 2019 Buffalo Bills Season Will Finish 8-8 and One Game Shy of a Wild-Card Berth
Buffalo’s front office has a clear plan of how they want to build their team for the future. They built a lot of draft capital with recent trades and continue to grow their cap space. With so many promising young players at key positions, the Bills are a team to watch in the future. However, it will take Josh Allen time to gel with his new skill players and to get more comfortable in Daboll’s system. Buffalo will benefit once again from a weak division outside of the Patriots and will look to exploit the weaknesses of the Redskins and Giants when they face their NFC East crossover opponents. Bills Mafia will have to wait one more year before they knock down the playoff doors once again.