The NFL Media universe pivoted quickly from the draft hype to the schedule release hype. I have to wonder if the NFL was aware of how contrived the “Event” of the schedule release was, based on the entire Bills schedule being leaked by dinnertime. It was actually more fun hitting refresh all day and piecing the Bills schedule together. If that was the plan, well done! The online ticket window opened at 8 p.m., and judging by my experience business was brisk for Buffalo Bills tickets.
We viewed the draft from the context of the new neighborhood the Bills reside in, and we need to break down the schedule the same way. “We hope” is now “we expect”, as in we expect to win the AFC East and we expect to host playoff games. The timing of the change in the NFL’s Playoff Format cost the Bills a bye last season. The seven-team, one-bye system remains Seventeen games are all about playoff positioning for Buffalo.
Predicting football games six months in advance makes as much sense (very little) as giving draft grades before a single snap of the football. No thanks. But… we the BillsMafia can take a look at the road map to the playoffs. Eight of the first ten games, plus the final three games, fall in our preferred 1 p.m. Sunday time slot.
It’s nice to get our share of the limelight with a pair of Monday nighters with the Titans and Pats, round 3 with the Chiefs on a Sunday night, and the Tryptophan Bowl in New Orleans on Thanksgiving night.
Thanksgivings are the only Thursday games I ever want the Bills to play, and ditto Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The real bye falls at at great time in Week 7 after two prime time road games at KC and Tennessee. The “bonus bye” between Thanksgiving and Week 12, before the home Monday night game vs. New England, is a gift.
The home schedule shows only three of nine games vs. 2020 playoff teams: Steelers, WFT, Colts. On the road, four of eight: Chiefs, Titans, Saints, Bucs. Yes, we have to look at the Chiefs’ schedule: home vs. the Browns, Bills, Packers, and Steelers; road vs. the Ravens, WFT, and Titans.
It is more likely than not that home field advantage throughout the playoffs and the bye will be on the line October 10th when the Bills travel to Arrowhead. No offense to some other AFC Contenders, but the AFC North is the most competitive division in the NFL… and the AFC South faces the NFC West in inter-conference play. The Ravens, Browns, Colts, and Titans appear to have much tougher schedules than Buffalo or Kansas City. I won’t predict the games, but I’ve seen dozens of projections for Buffalo in the 13- to 15-win range..
From an entertainment standpoint, the Steelers on opening day is a great matchup. Considering how much noise that the BillsMafia made at 10% capacity last January, post-pandemic opening day in Buffalo should be nuts.
The Bills host former QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tyrod Taylor back to back before the prime time revenge games at KC and Nashville. The well-rested Bills resume after the bye against the Dolphins on Halloween.
The Colts are the stiffest test in November, and the late pair of Patriots games will highlight December. I don’t think the Bills will mind the road trip to Tampa Bay in December… would you? It’s one of the very few games on the schedule that the Bills won’t be favored, which could take a little pressure off the young Bills. Kyle Pitts and Zach Wilson are on display to round out the regular season. We are nowhere near jaded by winning yet. Enjoy the process.
Also, one fun preseason note: Mitch Trubisky at the Bears, Sat. Aug 21st.
Editor’s babble: Thanks, as always, to Joe Reagan for his terrific contributions to our blog.