Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Very, Very Early Look at The 2012 Buffalo Bills Season

Well, the NFL schedules were released this past tuesday night.  For those who haven't had a chance to check them out yet, simply head on over to the above link to  Here you can break them down by weeks, by team, or even by network.

I don't really have the time today to thoroughly digest all the ins and outs as they apply to each team.  However, I did have the time to take a longer look at the Buffalo Bills schedule, go figure right.

The Bills season kicks off on Sept, 9, 2012 where they'll open with a divisional game against the NY Jets at 1:00pm.

This will be not only Buffalo's, but the world's first regular season opportunity to see how the Jets plan to utilize newly acquired QB Tim Tebow.  As of now he's scheduled to be the backup to Mark Sanchez, but it's been reported that they will, if they haven't already, create numerous packages to get the former Gator and Bronco into the game.

This is a big game for the Bills.  Sure, it's only week one, but there's much more hype surrounding this Bills team since when the team acquired the services of Drew Bledsoe.

While the Tebow factor will be an interesting one to watch leading up to and then during the game, I'm much more interested in seeing how the Jets offensive line, which isn't what it was just a few years ago, and Sanchez deal with the revamped Bills D-line, which now features the very versatile front four of Dareus and Kyle Williams at the tackle spots, and newly acquired DE's Mario Williams and Mark Anderson playing the outside.  The Bills have decent depth at tackle but the strength of this time is clearly at DE.

It's a depth that will not solely be emergency replacements, but guys that will sub frequently throughout the game. This will enable, theoretically, the entire front four to remain consistently fresh all game long.  It will also allow the Bills to create a pass rush that can come in waves throughout each game.  Their depth is deep, with Spencer Johnson, Kelsay, Merriman, Carrington to name a few.

So, how will an often erratic Sanchez fare against this revamped line.  Only time will tell, but one thing I'm sure of, is that with an improved line, the linebackers will benefit, and from their the secondary.  A true trickle down effect of improved defensive football.

After the opener the Bills also play their next 3 opponents at the 1:00pm hour.  Here the play

Home against the Kansas City Chiefs, with a new coach and returning players Eric Berry, Matt Cassel, Jamal Charles and Tony Moeaki to go along with new additions Payton Hillis and Kevin Boss.

On the road against a Cleveland Browns team looking to the draft to add impact players both offensively and defensively

then home again to face the NE Patriots and newly acquired receiving threat Brandon Lloyd and an offseason emphasis on getting better on defense.

For the following two weeks, the Bills will head out west to play a 4:15 start against a SF 49'er team that looks to be even better this year and a 4:05 game against the Arizona Cardinals, where they still have a good defense and Larry Fitzgerald.  Right now it's unknown who will be throwing the ball to him, but the safe money is on Kevin Kolb.

The Bills head home to face the Tennessee Titans who are looking forward to getting the Chris Johnson from three years ago back behind QB's Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker

In week 8 the Bills have their bye week.  Midseason is the ideal spot for a bye, at least it looks that way on paper.

Weeks 9 and 10 feature 1:00pm road games against the Houston Texans, Mario Williams return to Houston, and then in Foxboro against the Patriots

Week 11 will be the Bills first primetime game in 3 seasons.  Here they'll play the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football, which begins at 8:20pm.  I really don't know what to expect out of the Dolphins, and to be quite honest, I think they'll have shock me if they even get close to .500 this year.  They'll most likely feature either returning QB Matt Moore or a rookie under center. They traded pro bowl MVP Brandon Marshall away, but still have Reggie Bush, who was a definite positive surprise for them last season.

Weeks 12-14 are all 1:00pm contests.

Week 12 the team will be in Indianapolis to get their first look at presumed 1st overall pick Andrew Luck.

Weeks 13 and 14 the team returns home to face the Jacksonville Jaguars and the St. Louis Rams as December football in WNY really becomes the theme of the second half of the schedule.

Week 15 the team takes their annual sojourn to Toronto.  I don't like this one bit, never have, but it is what it is, and this year the Bills will try to win their first ever regular season game in Toronto.  They'll have to beat the skittle eating former Bills RB Marshawn Lynch and his new jersey wearing Seattle Seahawk teammates

Week 16 and 17 are both 1:00pm contests.

They'll head to South Florida in Week 16 to face the Dolphins, a trip I'm sure none of the players will complain about.

And the schedule rounds out back in Orchard Park, where the Jets come to town and bookend this upcoming year's Bills schedule.

A very, very early guess at how things will shake out:

1    At NYJ  L
2    Chiefs W
3    At Cle W
4    NE      W
5    At SF  L
6    At Ari W
7    Ten    W
8.   BYE               5-2 at BYE
9    At HOU  L
10  At NE     L
11  Mia       W
12  At Ind    W
13  Jax        W
14  Stl         W
15  Sea        L   (In Toronto)
16  At Mia    W
17  NYJ        W

Final record  11-5  

Not sure if that will be good enough for a division title, but it should certainly be enough for a Wild Card game= Playoff drought over.

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