Training camp is behind us and with that comes the eager anticipation of the regular season. It’s a new era in Buffalo Bills history with a new owner, head coach and plenty of new players. All of this springs hope for a fantastic season that could end the Bills playoff drought, but in order to do so the Bills face a difficult first trio of games to start the season that may sink or swim those playoff aspirations early.
The Bills open at home against the defending AFC South champions Indianapolis Colts, and then face back to back divisional opponents as the New England Patriots come into Buffalo in week two, and then the Bills go to Miami to face the Dolphins. This stretch of three games could be the most critical to determining the season’s direction outside of weeks 9-11 where the Bills play a divisional opponent three straight weeks.
A fast start like going 3-0 would give the Bills not only momentum in the division, but also provide an edge when it comes to potential tiebreaker situations with their conference victories. The Bills missed the playoffs a year ago, but even if they ‘d finished 10-6 they still would’ve missed out anyway due to conference victories. In all the Bills were only able to muster five total.
Knowing all of this information I reviewed the AFC Divisional winners the past three years to see what kinds of start the Bills needed to put themselves in solid playoff footing. Below is the breakdown.
In the AFC alone the worst divisional and conference start a team has recorded and made the playoffs was 1-1 and 1-2 in the conference, and that was last year’s Patriots squad. Otherwise the bare minimum for division winners has been a 1-1 divisional record, and a 2-1 conference start.
So by learning from recent history shows the largest pitfalls in the Bills schedule. Any stumble in these first three games makes week 9-11 must wins to reset their divisional hopes, whereas 2-1 provides the Bills a strong start on their path to the playoffs.