Week 1: at New York Jets
Win: The Buffalo Bills open their 2019 season with a trip to MetLife Stadium where they will take on the New York Jets. In order for the Bills to start 1-0 on the year, they will need the defense to play how they are expected to and show up how they did last season as the number two ranked defense in the NFL. The New York Jets will for sure be without two defensive starters, in OLB Brandon Copeland who is serving a four-week suspension for PEDs, as well as ILB Avery Williamson who will miss the entire season with a torn ACL. Outside of Jamal Adams and CB Trumaine Johnson, who is dealing with injuries of his own, the Jets secondary is one of the weak links of the team. On the Jets offensive side of the ball, Le’Veon Bell has not taken a regular season snap in the NFL in over 600 days and the Bills have played well when up against, Adam Gase, where they have a 4-2 record when he was the head coach in Miami. As long as Josh Allen and the revamped offense can put it together at the first snap of the season and not take too long to get acclimated, I do not see Buffalo losing week one.
Loss: If the Bills offense struggles to put it together from the start and can’t get on the same page, then they could be in trouble. The defense will be able to hold their own and should dominate the Jets weak offensive line, but on the flip side, if the new Bills offensive line do not work well together, the Jets big men up front could feast. With third overall pick Quinnen Williams and DL Leonard Williams and newly acquired LB C.J. Mosley, the Jets defense could give the Buffalo O-line a problem and force Josh Allen to use his legs again. Shutting down the Buffalo run game would force Allen to test out his new weapons on the outside, and with Tyler Kroft being out for Buffalo, the lack of a true number one tight-end with experience could spell trouble. The Bills success this season will be very dependent on play of the offensive line, and because the Bills and Jets open and end the season against each other, the teams could be very different and the week 17 matchup could be a pivotal matchup for both teams.
Week 2: at New York Giants
Win: The Bills will be traveling back to MetLife stadium for a week two matchup against the New York Giants. After an eventful offseason for the Giants, where they traded their star wide receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. Buffalo defense will have to contain Saquon Barkley. They will be without their potential number one wide receiver in Golden Tate who is suspended for the first four games of the year, and Sterling Shepard will play but is still recovering from a broken thumb. The Giants defense struggled last season, as they were ranked 24th in the league, allowing almost 26 points a game and may have even more problems this season after losing Landon Collins to free agency. Josh Allen and the Bills offense should be able to put up big numbers against the weak Giants defense, and the Buffalo defense should have no problem shutting down the New York passing game, as Eli Manning has had his struggles the past few seasons. The Giants should be a lock for a top five pick in the draft, so Buffalo should take advantage of an early season game against a weak opponent.
Loss: With the number two pick in the 2018 draft, the Giants selected potential league MVP candidate in running back Saquon Barkley. He can put the Giants offense on his back and win games with his legs. Barkley is a dangerous threat in the pass game as well, but with a retooled offensive line, the young running back may be better this year than he was last. If he can get in a groove early, the Bills defense could be in for a long day and could possibly open the passing game more for players like Evan Engram who is expected to have a bigger role this year. Although Buffalo defense was ranked second in the NFL last year, their run defense was not top-tier, as they allowed 114.9 rushing yards per game and had a hard time keeping opposing teams out of the endzone. If rookie Ed Oliver and the defensive linemen can’t close the holes and stop Barkley, the Bills could be looking at a loss in week two.
Week 3: vs Cincinnati Bengals
Win: Buffalo won’t be able to showcase their new team in front of their home crowd until week three when the Bengals come to town. With Cincinnati’s star wide receiver A.J. Green expected play his first game of the year in week three after ankle surgery, the Bills defense shouldn’t have too much trouble containing Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense. Dalton has only thrown for 4,000 yards a season, only two times in his eight seasons so far and should not scare a top tier pass defense like Buffalo. Daltons top weapons will most likely be Tyler Eifert who can be dynamic when healthy, John Ross, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon for the week three matchup, and A.J. Green if he can come back strong from injury. The Cincinnati offensive line will struggle this year, with 11th overall pick, Jonah Williams expected to miss the entire season and ex Buffalo Bills Cordy Glenn and John Miller lining up at LT and RG. This could be the first game where Bills fans see Ed Oliver dominate and show his true talent to be able to take-over a game.
Loss: With Carlos Dunlap and All-Pro lineman Geno Atkins up front, and ex-Bills linebacker Preston Brown, Josh Allen and the Bills offensive line will have their hands full in containing them. The Bengals defense struggled last season, as they finished dead last in the NFL in defensive rankings. They allowed the most passing yards per game last season, averaging 275.9 yards and 137.8 rushing yards per game. Cincinnati does have the talent on the defensive side of the ball, but could not put it together last year. If they can figure it out on defense, the Bills offense could be put under some pressure and struggle in the home opener.
Week 4: vs New England Patriots
Win: One of the biggest challenge for Buffalo comes to town early in the season as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will kick off in Buffalo for week four. The reigning Super Bowl champs will not be an easy task for anyone, but they will be missing a few key pieces from their run last season. No longer will Rob Gronkowski be lined up for New England, and the Patriots will be without star safety Patrick Chung who will be suspended to start the season. As well as their new starting tight end, Ben Watson, who will also start the year on the suspension list. New England’s first round pick and speedy wide receiver N’Keal Harry was placed on the injured reserve list with an ankle injury, so he will not be active until at least week eight. New England has been trying to build up a strong offensive line to protect Brady, but will have their problems this year with David Andrews being placed on IR and the team forced to use quick-fill players found through trades and free agency. It is seen that when Brady is put under pressure, he has shown some struggle and that could the deciding factor for this game. These are big blows on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball for New England and if the Bills can exploit that, they may be able to pull out an upset in week four.
Loss: As long as Tom Brady is on the field, it will be no easy task for any team. Most Bills fans are tired of seeing Brady face Buffalo, as he has a 30-3 record against Buffalo in his career. The additions of WR Demaryius Thomas, and trading for Michael Bennett, make the team a threat for another Super Bowl push and will the true test for how Buffalo to see if their offseason moves paid off. If Buffalo wants to take over the AFC east, the week four home matchup is a pivotal game. The Bills will travel to New England for a week 16 matchup later in the season.
Week 5: at Tennessee Titans
Win: Buffalo will travel to Nashville, TN in week five, to play the Titans before their bye week. Titans franchise QB, Marcus Mariota has struggled to stay healthy in his career, but coming into this season, Tennessee can breathe a little easier knowing Ryan Tannehill is their backup instead of Blaine Gabbert. Buffalo offense should be able to get the run game going in this matchup, as the Titans defense allowed 116.4 rushing yards per game last season. Although their pass defense is strong, and will be a test for Allen and the Bills receiving core. The Bills were able to get away with a win last season as the two teams faced off in Buffalo where the Bills completely shut down Mariota, allowing only 129 passing yards and no touchdowns through the air. Buffalo defense has to worry about the one-two punch in Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis in the backfield, but the secondary should be able to contain Corey Davis and Delanie Walked enough and cause turnovers, as Tennessee had 18 turnovers last season.
Loss: The Titans quietly pieced together a good offseason, adding Ryan Tannehill, Cameron Wake, and drafting AJ Brown and Jeffery Simmons (will miss entire season with torn ACL). The Titans have built a strong defensive core, with Pro-Bowl DE Jurrell Casey and now Cameron Wake on the line. Their secondary is what can be the deciding factor in many of their games this year. They have two shut-down corners in Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan and Kenny Vaccaro and Kevin Byard as the safeties. This group had 11 interceptions and caused six fumbles last season and could put Josh Allen in some trouble if the offensive line can’t give him enough time to throw the smart ball. If Tennessee shuts down the Buffalo passing game and forces the Bills to become one-dimensional in running the ball, the Titans could find themselves in the win column after week five.
Week 6: BYE Week
Week 7: vs Miami Dolphins
Win: Buffalo will come off of their early bye week with a week seven matchup against the Miami Dolphins. Miami is already an early season favorite for a top-five pick in next year’s draft. This is one of the few games this season that the Bills should be heavily favored to win. Miami going with journeyman, Ryan Fitzpatrick over Josh Rosen as their starting quarterback for week one is telling of how the franchise is going about the season. Whether it be Rosen or Fitzpatrick, Buffalo defense will have no trouble shutting down the Miami pass game. Especially because Miami has started their rebuild by trading star offensive linemen Laremy Tunsil, as well as former number one wide receiver Kenny Stills. Miami will most likely rely heavily on the run game with Kenyan Drake being the premier back on that offense. The Buffalo offense should be able to run the ball with ease, after the Dolphins traded LB Kiko Alonso, cut DT Vincent Taylor and DE Nate Orchard, making Sean McDermott’s and the Buffalo coaching staff job a little easier and it shouldn’t be too difficult to game plan for the Dolphins.
Loss: If there is a strong suit on this Miami team, it would be the defensive side of the ball. Although they recently traded away the team leader in tackles last season, LB Kiko Alonso, there are some star caliber players on the defense that Buffalo should keep an eye out for. 13th overall pick Christian Wilkins will be the centerpiece of the Dolphins defensive line, as Xavien Howard (7 INT’s last season) Minkah Fitzpatrick and Eric Rowe will lock down in the secondary. If the Dolphins secondary can shut down Josh Allen in the passing game, and get a consistent run game going with Kenyan Drake, the Bills could have their hands full in dealing with a sneaky Ryan Fitzpatrick Miami led team.
Week 8: vs Philadelphia Eagles
Win: The Super Bowl LII champion, Philadelphia Eagles will make the trip to Buffalo for the first time since 2011 in week eight. The Eagles are coming into this season with high hopes that Carson Wentz can get back in the MVP caliber player he was when the Eagles made their championship push. Buffalo will have to play some of their best football of the year if they want to take down the Eagles. RB Jordan Howard is someone to keep an eye on in the run game, but not so much as a receiving threat. Philadelphia does lacks a complete lock-down corner, which could spell trouble for them in their matchup with Buffalo. The Bills may not have one star receiver, but they have many receivers who can easily take advantage of a weak secondary. Whether that be forgetting about Brown deep while Beasley is in the slot, or Isaiah McKenzie running through the backfield on a jet-sweep which we saw a few times last season. If the Bills offense can expose the Eagles secondary and make big plays through the air, it may open the run game a little more and cause an upset in week eight.
Loss: Philadelphia arguably has the most complete roster of any team in the NFL, making them a favorite in the NFC, if Wentz can stay healthy. With Wentz under center and his favorite targets from last year Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles offense can put up big numbers on any team. With the addition of Jordan Howard, the lack of a run game is no longer a problem like it was last season. Philadelphia has experienced players who know how to win, and not to mention a stellar offensive line to protect Wentz. Buffalo will have their hands full on both sides of the ball, and may not be able to contain the talented Eagles offense, as well as the stacked defensive line that Philadelphia plays with. I would argue that this week eight matchup will be a harder game for the Bills than any other game this season, including the Patriots.
Week 9: vs Washington Redskins
Win: The Washington Redskins will be coming to town for the third home game in a row for Buffalo. The Redskins will most likely have a quarterback controversy throughout the year, after drafting Dwayne Haskins in the first-round last year but naming Case Keenum the starter for week one. It may be a different name under center, once week nine comes but either way, the Bills should not be worried about facing Case Keenum or a raw Dwayne Haskins. After Washington decided to cut Josh Doctson, the Redskins top receivers are Paul Richardson Jr. and Terry McLaurin. Jordan Reed is a top tier tight end, when healthy, but can hardly ever stay on the field. It is very realistic to think that the Bills defense can keep the Redskins offense to under ten points, when on the flip side, Buffalo should be able to put up at least 20 points on the Redskins. Washington’s defense allowed the seventh most rushing yards last season with 116.2 yards per game, and by this point in the season Devin Singletary will have a lot of NFL experience and should be having a few break-out games and could lead the Bills to victory.
Loss: Although the Redskins allowed 22.4 points per game (18th in the NFL) and 237.1 passing yards per game (15th in the NFL) they have the skills on the defensive side of the ball that could be a handful for Josh Allen and the Bills offensive line. The addition of Landon Collins through free agency will payoff big for Washington, as they already have Pro-Bowl CB Josh Norman. Collins and Norman may be able to lock down the Bills receivers while Ryan Kerrigan and Daron Payne will put the pressure on Josh Allen. The Bills offense needs to be on the top of their game, because the Redskins defense can create turnovers, as they had 26 last season (9th in the NFL). Washington’s defense will take big steps forward this season and as long as all starters stay healthy, and should be able to hold their own against the best of NFL offenses.
Kurt Haumesser is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow him @Kurt_Haumesser on Twitter.