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This Is Totally Your Year: The 2014-15 Buffalo Bills Season Preview

  • Jake O'Donnell

Welcome to “This Is Totally Your Year,” our overly optimistic preview of the 2014-15 NFL season for all 32 teams. We’ve broken down why every team — yes, even your team (and yes, even your team, Rams fans) — will win it all this year. We’ll also give some reasons for pessimism and even estimate an actual season prediction. Next up: The Buffalo Bills.

C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, and Sammy Watkins. If those three end up having solid seasons, the Bills could end up with 6,000 total yards with a playoff spot within reach. It’s totally doable — all three players have impressed us at one point or another.

For Spiller, it was in 2012.

For Jackson, 2013.

For Watkins, summer 2014.

If E.J. Manuel can just stay healthy — his biggest issue — this team has a chance to surprise some people.

This is a running team, first and foremost:

To dispel any thoughts that E.J. Manuel has to become Aaron Rodgers over night for the Bills to succeed, let’s address this backfield for a second. C.J. Spiller averages 5.2 yards per carry over his career if you don’t count the limited action he saw his rookie season. Fred Jackson ended up with 10 touchdowns last season. Bryce Brown had 347 combined yards in two back-to-back games in 2012 (the last time he actually touched the ball). All three can catch the ball. Why isn’t anyone talking about the 2014 Buffalo Bills rushing attack?

Still a top 10 defense:

Anyway you slice it, losing Jairus Byrd to New Orleans hurts. Bad. In five seasons in Buffalo, the free safety had a remarkable 22 interceptions and rarely missed time. But that doesn’t detract from the primary objective of this defense: Getting to the quarterback. Because of Mario Williams and Kyle Williams — the big names with the big money — Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes never get any love. But the two defensive linemen combined for 17.5 sacks last season, helping make Buffalo the second best pass rush in the NFL, right behind Carolina. Free agency losses behind this defensive front, while substantial, don’t detract from what is objectively a fearsome quarterback eating unit.

Sammy Watkins is talented enough to win games on his own:

Ok, we get it — in the 2014 preseason, Watkins hasn’t shown nearly as much as he did in mini-camp. A rib injury, maybe some pressure, and the undivided attention of the defenses he’s faced in his three pro outings might be to blame. Or the top WR in the 2014 NFL draft may be a huge bust.

Look into your heart. Do you really believe that a 6’1″ college football touchdown machine will be a bust? Really?

Of course he won’t. He’ll fit nicely between TE Scott Chandler, Robert Woods, and Mike Williams — all of which will have better numbers this year thanks to Watkins. Once again, if Manuel can stick around and go through his progressions like a passer who belongs in the NFL, this team will have one of those “Wait how come we didn’t see this coming?” prolific offensive seasons.

Worst case scenario, this passing unit has a bright future.

Actual Prediction: A tough learning curve for Watkins will be made tougher by the fact that he’s already injured. The season doesn’t hinge on his health, per se, but E.J. Manuel will struggle to find a rhythm with his first look constantly shifting from Williams to Woods to Watkins (when he’s healthy). Bills finish 7-9, last in the division, coaches are fired, team is moved.

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