Also written with Chris Jordan.
With all the anticipation surrounding the 2020 Bills’ season,various media outlets claiming a 12-win season, and a crucial third year for QB Josh Allen, we break down the schedule projections.
Week 1: Vs. New York Jets (9/13, 1:00PM EST)
The opener brings the New York Jets to town. They hope to become a big factor in the AFC East with Tom Brady leaving the Patriots. New England’s rebuild means everyone will be competing at a higher level in the division. The Jets’ finished the 2019 season third in the division. Le’veon Bell will reportedly be used at a lower percentage this year. Trade rumors have dominated Bell’s offseason, and the addition of Frank Gore via free agency, make this an interesting matchup between the two teams. Both teams’ numbers in 2019 nearly doubled from the previous year. With how Le’veon Bell conducted himself once the Steelers franchised him, issues could arise early on with the Jets offense if the rumors of a trade turn out to be true.
Bills 24 Jets 21
Week 2: At Miami Dolphins (9/20, 1:00PM EST)
Miami is in the midst of their own rebuilding process, a trend in the AFC East considering all the young quarterbacks. The Dolphins are projected to finish third in the division behind Buffalo and the New England Patriots. They used the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft to select QB Tua Tagovailoa. Incumbent Ryan Fitzpatrick remains as well. Miami used several resources to upgrade its offensive line in order to protect their quarterbacks. It’s easy to anticipate the Bills’ experience and continuity being an advantage over the Dolphins’ newly constructed defense and offensive lines. With the addition of Stefon Diggs and the pressure on Josh Allen to prove himself in the third season of his professional career, there are more weapons available right now to Allen and a defense ranked among the best in franchise history. Week 2 is also projected to be a win for the Bills.
Bills 21 Dolphins 17
Week 3: Vs. Los Angeles Rams (9/27 1:00PM EST)
Considering the loss of Todd Gurley II and Brandin Cooks, along with three new coordinators, the Rams first half of the 2020 schedule is looking rough. Early matchups against Dallas, Philadelphia, and Buffalo offer a tough start to the season. The Rams are projected to go 8-8 in the regular season. With their top wide receiver and running back no longer with the team, they will be relying heavily on their defense to give the time needed to refresh their offensive line who had shown poorly in the 2019 season. You still need points to win a game.
Bills 23 Rams 21
Week 4: At Las Vegas Raiders (10/4, 4:25PM EST)
Flying to Las Vegas to the Raiders new stadium built for the move from Oakland, the Bills will be on the road to face Derek Carr and the Raiders in week 4 in the first of four west coast trips the Bills will make this season. With the Bills’ defense being ranked in the top 5 going into the 2020 season, Carr does have a few lethal options with his highly accurate quick passes with Hunter Renfrow and Tyrell Williams at wide receiver, as well as rookie speedster Henry Ruggs. The problem lies with the Raiders defense being ranked among the worst in the league and losing LB Vontaze Burfict who appeared to be their answer for leadership presence.
Bills 23 Raiders 14
Week 5: At Tennessee Titans (10/11, 1:00PM EST)
The Titans are facing a remarkably interesting season coming up in 2020 with a 9-7 record last season. The defense took the biggest hit losing Jurrell Casey, Logan Ryan, and Wesley Woodyard. Defensive woes aside, 2019 hero Ryan Tannehill, who re-signed on a huge four-year contract, will have options to work with including standout running back Derrick Henry and the 93rd overall draft pick of Darrynton Evans. The Titans will still have some offensive targets to pursue in the passing game after the loss of Dion Lewis to free agency.
Bills 20 Titans 17
Week 6: Vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Thursday 10/15, 8:20PM EST)
Coming off their 2019 Super Bowl win, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs will come to Buffalo to play the Bills’ in week 6. This will be the Bills’ first home loss of the season. Although chosen to be the front runner of the AFC East, they are still well behind the talent of the Chiefs and even the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC. It will be a top showdown between these two teams, but the chiefs will leave with the win. Kansas City is equipped with the uber-talented Patrick Mahomes, the abilities of Tyreek Hill, and arguably the NFL’s best tight end Travis Kelce leading the league’s premier offense. The Bills’ offense is hopeful rookie Zack Moss and second-year stud Devin Singletary will become an elite running back duo after Frank Gore’s departure.. As of now, the experience lies with Mahomes and the Super Bowl offense of 2019, the Chiefs.
Chiefs 27 Bills 24
Week 7: At New York Jets (10/25, 1:00PM EST)
Nothing will differ from week one in this meeting, but it will be interesting to see if the saga of Le’veon Bell will turn into the Pittsburgh ordeal of 2018 or if he has matured and the Jets utilize him as planned.
Bills 24 Jets 17
Week 8: Vs. New England Patriots (11/1, 1:00PM EST)
This is the game all eyes will be on in week 6 as the two top projected AFC East teams battle it out in Buffalo. New England has yet to announce any formal quarterback selection, but the leaders appear to be Brian Hoyer or second year veteran Jarrett Stidham for the position. In the draft, the Patriots did select two tight ends, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, as no permanent replacement has been able to fill that spot since Rob Gronkowski’s “retirement.”. With Tom Brady’s absence and the weakening grip over the past couple seasons the Patriots held, time will tell how coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ franchise fill the huge void Brady has left.
Patriots 23 Bills 21
Week 9: Vs. Seattle Seahawks (11/08, 1:00PM EST)
Buffalo has a talent advantage at most positions on the field. The most notable discrepancy is at quarterback. Seattle is a team that is generally lifted above their talent level by future hall of famer Russell Wilson. He will never go down without a fight, but the travel will be too much to overcome this time around. This will be a tight contest. However, coast-to-coast travel will be the difference in a tight game.
Bills 28 Seahawks 24
Week 10: At Arizona Cardinals (11/15, 4:05 EST)
This will be a litmus test for both teams, especially Arizona. The NFC West will be tough to win. This game will be crucial to their playoff hopes. DeAndre Hopkins vs. Tre’davious White will be one of the premier matchups of the season. If the Bills come away with this victory, Devin Singletary will likely be the reason. Arizona’s run defense is still likely to be a weak spot and ball control will be a priority. We’ll pick Arizona for the same reason we picked Buffalo to win the week prior. Coast to coast travel is tough.
Cardinals 31 Bills 27
Week 11: Bye
Week 12: Vs. Los Angeles Chargers (11/29, 1:00 EST)
The bye week comes at an excellent time for the Bills. It is at a relative midpoint in the season and they will be coming off a long road trip. The Chargers come to town with either former Bill Tyrod Taylor or rookie Justin Herbert leading the offense. Either way, Buffalo’s defense will be too much to handle. The Chargers are talented enough to cause problems, but Buffalo’s defense combined with the Los Angeles’ travel will lead to a victory for the home team.
Bills 21 Chargers 13
Week 13: At San Francisco (Monday, 12/07 8:15 EST)
The midseason theme of coast to coast travel continues with a daunting trip to play the NFC champions. This game figures to be a gritty contest between two elite defenses. Both teams are loaded with talent and the extra day of preparation works in Buffalo’s favor. The 49ers may suffer from a Super Bowl hangover. It is too early to make that prediction though. Based on what we already know, San Francisco is well-rounded and their pass rush will likely be the difference.
49ers 24 Bills 14
Week 14: Vs. Pittsburgh (12/13, 8:20 EST)
The 2019 matchup against the Steelers was the ugliest victory of the year. It was also the most important. The two sides traded turnovers until Buffalo finally put the game away late. The Steelers will be getting Ben Roethlisberger back though. If he is completely healthy, there is real danger in this primetime matchup. If someone else in the AFC East is on Buffalo’s heels, the sense of urgency will be extremely high. Pittsburgh’s elite defense will cause a lot of problems. The Bills struggle here due to a lack of rest.
Steelers 20 Bills 10
Week 15: At Denver (Date and Time TBD)
Late-season travel is a theme in 2020. The Bills will have faced two brutal matchups prior to this. The Broncos added several weapons this offseason to improve a struggling offense. The Bills will be desperate for a road win coming off a rough stretch. Another physical game will test the Bills’ fortitude. This will be the game when Stefon Diggs becomes a hero in Buffalo. Buffalo squeaks out a win with two divisional foes looming.
Bills 21 Broncos 20
Week 16: At New England (Monday 12/28, 8:15 EST)
The final Monday Night Football game of the year will feature Buffalo traveling to their house of horrors in Foxborough. No one knows what to make of Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham at this point. He may not even be the starter come the season. We know what the Bills are made of by now. New England’s offense struggled mightily last year with Tom Brady still at the helm. It’s hard to imagine they will improve with Stidham or someone else in charge. Bill Belichick’s defense gives the Patriots a chance, but only a slim one.
Bills 23 Patriots 10
Week 17: Vs. Miami Dolphins (1/03, 1:00 EST)
The final week of the season sets up Buffalo nicely to clinch an AFC East championship. Granted, a short week of preparation is never easy, and we saw what the Dolphins did to New England last season. The crowd in Orchard Park will be charged up though. Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will likely be the starter by this point. Miami is still rebuilding. Buffalo’s time is now. The Bills ride the adrenaline to clinch their first division title since 1995.
Bills 28 Dolphins 14
Obviously there are caveats when making projections four months in advance of the start of the season. Injuries will take their toll and the unexpected will become reality. The Bills face a much weaker division, yet a much tougher schedule in their quest to end a long division title drought. They are the most talented team in the division though, and Josh Allen’s development will be the key to success. Expectations are sky high in Buffalo, as they should be.
Prediction: 11-5 record, AFC East Champions