Buffalo Bills (Last year: 7-9) – Projected record = 10-6
- Summary – 2006 was a season of numerous“close but no cigar” type games for the Buffalo Bills. With 5 losses of 3 points or less, Buffalo was on the cusp of the playoffs in the very strong AFC. The teams that Buffalo lost to in the 3 point or less games were very strong. Detroit (3 points), mere non-playoff qualifiers Tennessee (1 point), and playoff teams San Diego (3 points), New England (2 points), and Super Bowl champions Indianapolis (1 point). The quality of teams that defeated Buffalo by such a close margin mixed with the youth of the Bills team last year bodes well for their hopeful progression into a 2007 playoff team.
A year later, and an additional year of experience for Buffalo will prove to be invaluable for a team that was one of the youngest in 2006. Game management in tight ballgames will be critical for the entire team, but especially for quarterback J.P. Losman. The big target Losman will look to will be stud WR Lee Evans. While he is one of the shorter wide receivers in the league, the 5’9” Evans uses his excellent speed and superb agility to consistently beat secondaries. This past year against Houston, Evans used his superior skill set to score two 83 yard touchdowns in one quarter.
While the Bills seem to be confident in the abilities of Losman and Evans, tremendous uncertainties lie in spots vacated by traded stars Willis McGahee, Nate Clements, and Takeo Spikes. Stepping in to their large shoes are first round draft pick Marshawn Lynch, former Indy CB Jason Webster, and second round pick MLB Paul Posluszny. From what has been reported from Bills camp, Posluzney has been impressive, while Lynch has looked “just okay.” Because of the importance of the running game taking pressure away from the passing game, Lynch and fellow runningback Anthony Thomas will need to step up in order for the Bills to be successful.
- Stars to Watch – The underrated tandem of defensive ends – Matt Schobel and Chris Kelsay are two players with loads of experience on a very inexperienced defense. These two will have to consistently pressure the opposing quarterback, because if they don’t the Bills’ young secondary and linebacking core will continously be exposed. Plus: be sure to watch the best punter in the league Brian Moorman, who is - and will be - instrumental in winning the field position battle Bills coach Dick Jauron loves to play.
- Player to Watch – The unit to watch on the offensive side of the ball will be the Buffalo Bills offensive line. More specifically, newly signed LG Derrick Dockery. Dockery will form one of the most formidable offensive left side of the line combinations with 25 year old Jason Peters. The former Washington Redskin will do wonders in the effort to increase the 3.8 yard average Buffalo managed in 2006, and provide JP Losman the proper time needed to improve the passing offense. Also, focus on the aforementioned Lynch, Posluzney, and look for another wide receiver to step up and divert some of the coverage away from Lee Evans.
What I expect to see throughout the year:
-The Bills’ defense will struggle at certain points in the season, but they will continue to grow and mature as a unit throughout the year, as they did last year, and will become one of the ten best defenses in the league.
-JP Losman will have a breakout year throwing to Evans, Lynch out of the backfield, Peerless Price, Josh Reed, and what will be a great slot receiver in Roscoe Parrish. But in order to have this breakout year, Losman must control the ball and improve his 1.35 touchdown-interception ratio from 2006.
-Finally, I expect the jokes regarding the age of Bills' GM Marv Levy to commence once people see the young talent Levy and the rest of the Bills’ management has brought to Buffalo in just two years. And I expect this young talent to blossum and make Buffalo contenders in the brutal AFC for years to come.
- How the Buffalo Bills will fare – 10-6, and the 6th seed in the playoffs, and they will shock many teams and the “experts” at ESPN with a mix of efficient and explosive play from the Bills' young offense and defense.