2014 NFL Preview: Buffalo Bills

2014 NFL Preview: Buffalo Bills

Believe it or not, the 2014 NFL season is fast approaching. OTAs and mandatory mini-camps are over. The first training camps open up in less than a month, on July 20th. While coaches and players are squeezing in mid-summer vacations, now is an opportune time to begin previewing all 32 teams. Up first are the Buffalo Bills, who finished 2013 with a disappointing 6-10 record, their fourth 6-10 campaign in the last five years, and ninth consecutive losing season. Needless to say, Buffalo is starving for some much-needed success under second-year head coach Doug Marrone. There are some promising players on both sides of the ball, but will they be enough to lift the Bills from the AFC East basement? Here’s a preview.

Outlook: Buffalo will kick-off their upcoming season early when they face the Giants in the annual Hall of Fame game on August 3rd. In addition to their challenging division schedule, they also draw matchups against the AFC West and NFC North. The maturation of a young defense and the development of quarterback E.J. Manuel will ultimately decide whether they compete for a Wild Card, or chalk up another losing season.

New arrivals: Sammy Watkins was considered by some draft pundits as the best wide receiving prospect since Julio Jones. The pressure is on Watkins to make an immediate impact after the front office dealt a 2015 first-round pick to acquire his services. Brandon Spikes brings experience and a wealth of confidence after spending four years with the rival Patriots. Mike Williams was up and down with the Bucs and isn’t a guarantee to make the final roster.

Wave goodbye: Stevie Johnson was shipped to San Francisco in exchange for a 2015 draft pick. The addition of Watkins and the budding potential of Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin made Johnson expendable, but his consistency will be missed. Safety Jairus Byrd signed a mega contract with the Saints, leaving a huge void in the secondary. Byrd wasn’t a picture of health, but his ballhawking skills are some of the best in the league.

Over/Under wins: 6.5 –¬†The Bills have several exciting pieces in place. If C.J. Spiller can return to his 2012 form, the offense could by dynamic. However, the youth on offense as a whole will likely result in a lot of inconsistency, especially from Manuel, who struggled with accuracy and turnovers as a rookie. The legal woes of Marcell Dareus are also a concern; the massive defensive tackle has racked 18.5 sacks in three seasons and missed only three starts. He won’t be suspended by the league, but two arrests in one month isn’t doing his spotty reputation any favors. Thinking this team can put it altogether and navigate a tough schedule is risky. Getting to 8 wins isn’t impossible, but it’s not probable, either.

Bet under 6.5 wins