In the dog days of the offseason, the NFL's highly anticipated schedule reveal reinsures fans that brighter, more eventful days are ahead. For Buffalo Bills fans, the 2018 schedule reveal comes with even more excitement than most in recent memory, as it will be the first time in 17 years their team begins a season as a playoff team from the season before. That honor seems to have earned them some respect from the league, which granted Buffalo a Monday night home game against the New England Patriots of all teams.
It's the first time Buffalo will play a Monday night game in Orchard Park since 2008 by the way, and easily the most highly anticipated game of the season. Of course, there are other intriguing matchups as well, such as the team's trip to Lambeau Field in Week Four, a wild card rematch with Jacksonville in Week 12 and a season finale that invites the warm-weathered Miami Dolphins to Buffalo on December 30th.
Sure, meaningful football is still months away, but we gathered up a collection of our ROC Sports Report contributors to release some way-too-early predictions. Expectations are higher than they've been in nearly two decades after that playoff appearance. Do any of us see the Bills getting back to the playoffs?
HERE IT IS!
Your 2018 Buffalo Bills schedule. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/o70Yn8E7Su
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) April 20, 2018
Spencer (@Spencito_): 7-9
First thing I noticed with this schedule is just how road-heavy it is in the early going. The Bills play five of their first seven games on the road – an opening slate they the franchise has never experienced – which will truly test Sean McDermott's group out of the gate. The one nice side effect of that Buffalo plays a lot of home games late in the year when they'll hope to make a late push towards the playoffs. Ensuring that they're in good standing for that home stretch though is key.
A 1-1 start should be doable, with the Chargers presenting some serious issues for Buffalo as they did last year, in Week Two. The next two games are going to be a real challenge with matchups against NFC runner-up Minnesota and Green Bay at Lambeau with Aaron Rodgers back and healthy. Still, as we saw from Buffalo last year, early in the season teams are still rounding into form and are susceptible to losses. This could be where the Bills pull off one of their patented unexpected wins, but for now I can't assume that. As they reach the big Monday night showdown with New England, Buffalo should add wins over the Titans and Colts. Unfortunately, their night on the national stage is spoiled by Tom Brady and his 27-3 career record against the Bills, putting them at 3-5 midway through the season. I like their chances at entering the bye week on a two-game win streak though to get to .500 on the season. Even well rested, beating the Jaguars won't be easy in Week 12, but following that up by finishing off a sweep of the Jets and a road win over Miami puts them in the driver seat to match their 2017 record with three games to go. Ultimately though, losses to the Lions and Patriots knock Buffalo out of playoff contention, before finishing off the season with a prideful win over Miami.
All-in-all, I think a little regression is in the cards for Buffalo in 2018, but 7-9 is a respectable mark after lifting that playoff drought off the franchise's back last season.
Cam Boon (@lilboon): 10-6
Every year that I can remember, the Bills have had a deadly stretch of games where fans have said “there’s no way they’ll make it through that one in contention.” When I look at this schedule, there is no significant stretch of games where I think the Bills will struggle. There is a back to back sequence in Minnesota and Green Bay but that is really the only gauntlet on this schedule for what I can see.
I have them splitting the first four games, starting 2-0 and then falling to the two teams in the great north. (Side note: That battle with the Packers will be a fantastic with a healthy Rodgers in the NFC North). After that I think they can go very strong into the bye. They could theoretically enter the bye with five wins in those final six games. None of them strike me as all too tough. The two most challenging games of that span are against Tennessee and New England, both at home. That’s why they’ll beat the Titans, but probably fall to the almighty Patriots. With them at 7-3 going into the bye, that puts them in prime position to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year. They’ll go even in the final six games, falling to the Jags, Pats and Lions and beating the Jets and Dolphins twice.
How's back-to-back trips to the postseason sound? After 17 years without them, Bills fans deserve to be spoiled.
Rich Bystron (@richbystron): 10-
I just couldn't help myself, so I went game by game to reveal my way-to-early prediction. Here's how the Bills get to 10-6...
Week 1: @ Baltimore - The Ravens are just not a good team, I see this as a win regardless of the QB situation in Buffalo 23-10. Bills 1-0
Week 2: vs. Chargers - UGH, the Chargers seem to just have the Bills number, and I don’t see them keeping pace. The Chargers spoil the home opener 14-27. Bills 1-1
Week 3: @ Vikings - The Vikes are my personal pick to go to the Super bowl and win. They are going to be Good. 17-34 Vikings Win. Bills 1-2
Week 4: @ Packers - This will be the game the Bills should not win, but somehow pull it out. The Packers defense is not very good, and I believe the Bills shock the Pack at home 34-24. Bills 2-2
Week 5: vs. Titans - The Bills should be able to beat an improved Titans team at home without too many issues. I think the Bills roll and have their first winning streak 30-13. Bills 3-2
Week 6: @ Texans - Welp there goes the win streak, the Texans should win the AFC South easily if Watson and Watt stay healthy, not a good outcome for the Bills in this one 10-27 Texans. Bills 3-3
Week 7: @ Colts - 3 AFC South teams in a row, 2 wins out of the 3 games. The Colts will be one of the worst teams in football, and if the Bills lose then they do not deserve to be a playoff team. 40-17. Bills 4-3
Week 8: vs. Patriots - The Bills have a massive Monday night tilt with the hated Pats. Unfortunately, unless Brady trips on a bathmat and retires I just have a tough time picking the Bills, so……….21-34 Pats. Bills 4-4
Week 9: vs. Bears - Short week be darned, the Bears should and will lose here week 9 as a mad Bills team comes off a bad Monday night loss. 33-10. Bills 5-4
Week 10: @ Jets - The Jets have NO IDEA what is going to happen at QB, McCown will not be as good as last year, and I think they might win 3 games. 27-13. Bills 6-4
Week 12: vs. Jags - If the Playoff game last year is played in Orchard Park the Bills win, the Jags are not impressive, especially after extending Bortles, I just think the Jags take a step back, Bills 21-10. Bills 7-4
Week 13: @ Miami - The Dolphins might be a bottom 5 team in the league, and I think will be clearly out of any playoff race by this point, that being said the Bills should not have an issue. 27-16. Bills 8-4
Week 14: vs. Jets - Same rules apply as 3 weeks ago. Sorry Jets Fans 30-10. Bills 9-4
Week 15: vs. Lions - If this game was at Ford Field, the Lions would win easily. But I will be praying for snow, and Detroit does not have that type of team. The Lions win a close one 20-17. Bills 9-5
Week 16: @ Patriots- For anyone that doesn’t know, I still hope he (Brady) stubs his toe or steps on a Lego, until that happens Bills lose 27-20. Bills 9-6
Week 17: vs. Dolphins- The Bills should win this easy and claim a playoff spot. The Dolphin’s have nothing to play for. 34-10, Bills. 10-6 and another wild card berth feels doable right now (maybe I'm still riding the wave from this past season).
You: Take a look at the schedule and let us know your 2018 Bills prediction in the comments, or on Twitter @ROCSportsNetwork