Bills Stick with Rebuilding Plan so Lean to Low Side of Win Total

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 2:45 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2018 2:45 PM UTC

Coming off a stunning campaign in which Buffalo ended a 17-year playoff drought, the Bills seem willing to go backward this season in order to move ahead in 2019 and beyond.

After trading Sammy Watkins in the preseason and later a couple other players, Buffalo looked to be in "tank" mode last season. Reports had first-year coach Sean McDermott not "thrilled" about the situation, given the shelf life of a non-winning coach in the NFL. Instead of caving, McDermott convinced his troops they could win, and the Bills made the playoffs and almost beat Jacksonville, before falling 10-3 as nine-point road underdogs.

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“I love our QB room. They all have supported each other and I really feel great about the dynamic in there.”

Why GM Brandon Beane feels good about the Bills QB group: https://t.co/U4qHQHixYy pic.twitter.com/cQx6hOSEu2

— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) June 22, 2018
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Instead of building on this, Buffalo is evidently sticking with the original plan and will play at least one if not two inexperienced quarterbacks in A.J. McCarron and rookie Josh Allen.

Here is what the NFL odds at 5Dimes are saying about Buffalo this season:

Odds to win AFC East: +1300 (3rd)
Odds to win AFC: +3000 (13th)

Clearly, this a huge step backward in terms of progress and McDermott said something this off-season that no Buffalo fan wanted to hear: "We have our work cut out for us, we have a long way to go. That has not changed."

With this in mind, here is the Bills' 2018 win total projection and those of recent history:

2018: U6
2017: O6 (9-7 record)
2016: O8 (7-9 record)
2015: 8 (8-8 record)

Bills Outlook

Offense: The schedule is hardly tailor made (modest pun intended) for a new quarterback trying to find his way. Five of the first seven games are on the road and all but Indianapolis are potential playoff teams. Add in home games against the L.A. Chargers and Tennessee ,and a 2-5 start is not underestimating the situation. Buffalo's offense was 31st in time of possession last year, which left the defense on the field too long. The offense is still built around LeSean McCoy -- for purposes of this story, we are assuming McCoy is playing in 2018 despite some concerning circumstances surrounding an assault on his estranged girlfriend -- and the receiving contingent is hardly dynamic with Kelvin Benjamin their lead wide receiver to complement TE Charles Clay. The additions of veteran pass catchers Jeremy Kerley and Rod Streater will not send fear into opposing defenses. The offensive line had to rebuild after losing C Eric Wood and G Richie Incognito to retirement. For a team looking to run the ball first, this does not lend itself to a fast start.

Defense: The strength of the defense is in the secondary. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer ended up forming one of the best safety duos in the NFL last year and rookie Tre'Davious White showed tremendous potential with 14 interceptions. The defensive front seven lacks many playmakers. The additions of DT Star Lotuleiei and DE Trent Murphy should add flavor to the pass rush, especially since McDermott's defensive strategy is typically minimal blitzing. Buffalo's other first-round selection, Tremaine Edmunds, is expected to start immediately at middle linebacker and be a factor. If the Bills suffer any injuries on the back end, this defense will suffer immediately.

Bottom Line: As compared to prior years, Buffalo beat teams at the end of the last season they should have, which allowed them to make the playoffs. It does not appear they have quarterback or playmakers to make such a journey this year. We will make the call for the "under," with the Bills finishing at 5-11 or possibly a "push" at 6-10.

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