The Bills have a new head coach, new front office, and new direction in the NFL. Will change help or hinder their playoff chances in 2017? Oddsmakers suggest the latter, setting an over/under 6-win season.
The Bills are investing big in rookie head coach Sean McDermott. Owners uncharacteristically fired general manager Doug Whaley one day after the NFL draft, solidifying McDermott’s rising power. The timing is unorthodox, but the new head coach demands change; change in culture, organization, operations, everything. The franchise needs it badly. Buffalo has not reached the playoffs since 1999.
Change comes slowly in the NFL, as evident in the Bills’ over/under 6 win total set by oddsmakers last week. Here’s a look at where they’re likely to notch a few of those expected victories, and where they’ll likely fall flat.Wins You Can Count On
The Bills dropped both matchups to the Jets last season. Expect them to avenge at least one when they host New York as 6-point favorites in the opener. Other than that, there are very few “guarantee” wins on the schedule. Buffalo hosts the Colts in Week 14 as a 1-point favorite. No telling how Indy quarterback Andrew Luck performs after off-season shoulder surgery, but he certainly will not be comfortable in the cold in early December. Expect Buffalo to matchup well with the Bucs in a Week 7 home encounter, laying 1.5 points, and a victory over the Chargers in L.A. as 2-point dogs is feasible. Buffalo is 13-11 SU and ATS as a dog of 4 points or less the last four yearsGames That Could Go Either Way
The Jets are bad, but a season sweep by the Bills is unlikely. Buffalo is laying 1.5 points for a Week 9 matchup in the Meadowlands. It is 1-5 SU and ATS in its last six when road favorites of 4 points or fewer at New York.
A pair of AFC West contenders come to town in Week 3 and Week 8. The Broncos (-1) and Raiders (-1.5) are favored in each. Denver has issues on offense, which may not be fully fleshed out early in the season. A Week 10 home date against the Saints (-2) is a toss up as well.
Home-field advantage is the difference when the Bills host the Dolphins in Week 15. Miami swept the series last year. It was the third time since 1998 Buffalo did not win at least one of the two annual matchups. They clash again in Week 17. Expect the point spread to be tight in this one, too.Real Trouble Spots
Unfortunate for AFC East teams, they all have to face the Patriots twice. New England is heavily favored to sweep the series. The Super Bowl champs are laying a touchdown in Buffalo and 11.5 points for a Week 16 matchup in Foxboro. Expect New England head coach Bill Belichick to outsmart rookie McDermott in each.
Buffalo’s two road tilts versus the NFC South are against the division's toughest: a Week 2 trip to McDermott’s former employer Carolina (-3.5) and a Week 4 visit to Atlanta (-7.5).
The Bengals and Chiefs are projected to have winning seasons, and the Bills will likely add to their victory count. Cincy host Buffalo in Week 5 as 3.5-point chalk and K.C. is laying 6 points for a Week 12 encounter at Arrowhead Stadium.Bottom Line
McDermott will fix a defense that the Ryan brothers (Rex and Rob) wasted. How soon is the big question? Expect a surprise win or two in a few of the NFC South matchups. McDermott’s knowledge of each team will go a long way in preparation and planning, easing some of the learning curve as a rookie head coach. The Bills, which oddsmakers set at over/under 8 wins last year, fail to muster a wining season, but go 7-9 to cash the OVER 6 wins.2017 Regular Season Schedule
09/10/17 NY Jets 1:00 PM W
09/17/17 @ Carolina 1:00 PM L
09/24/17 Denver 1:00 PM W
10/01/17 @ Atlanta 1:00 PM L
10/08/17 @ Cincinnati 1:00 PM L
10/22/17 Tampa Bay 1:00 PM W
10/29/17 Oakland 1:00 PM W
11/02/2017 (Thu) @ NY Jets 8:25 PM W
11/12/17 New Orleans 1:00 PM W
11/19/17 @ LA Chargers 4:05 PM W
11/26/17 @ Kansas City 1:00 PM L
12/03/17 New England 1:00 PM L
12/10/17 Indianapolis 1:00 PM W
12/17/17 Miami 1:00 PM L
12/24/17 @ New England 1:00 PM L
12/31/17 @ Miami 1:00 PM L
Check Out An In-Depth Analysis Of Bills 2017 Schedule