2011 Buffalo Bills Preview and Team Prediction
Odds to win the AFC East +3000
Odds to win the AFC +7500
Odds to win the Super Bowl +15000
Win Total 5
Buffalo has gone in the wrong direction over the past few seasons with just six wins in 2009 and four wins last season after posting three straight 7-9 records the previous three years. This is a franchise that has been treading water for most of the past decade after the glory years of the mid 90’s. It will be Chan Gailey’s turn to try a reverse the Bills’ fortunes after being named the new head coach earlier this year. He inherits a team that actually has some legitimate talent on both sides of the ball, but it will be his job to try and fit in the missing pieces to stop the continuing slide down the ranks of the NFL.
It looks like Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain the starting quarterback, but the Bills went out and added some insurance with the signing of Tyler Thigpen, who spent the last two seasons in Miami. Fitzpatrick’s numbers last season were not that bad with a 57.8 completion rate and 3000 yards passing, but the offense as a whole finished 2010 ranked 25th in total average yards per game (304.9) and 28th in points (17.7). One of the bright spots was RB Fred Jackson, who led the team with 927 yards rushing. Last year’s No. 1 pick, RB C.J. Spiller did not make much of an impact with just 283 yards on 74 carries, but should fill a bigger role in the running game this season. The other plus on offense that gives this team hope for the future, is the emergence of Steve Johnson as a legitimate No.1 receiver. Last season, the four-year vet out of Kentucky caught 82 passes for 1,073 yards and a team-high 10 TD’s.
Gailey chose to focus much of his attention on the defense in this year’s draft. With the third overall pick, the Bills selected DT Marcell Dareus, who will immediately make this team better up front. They also added DB Aaron Williams in the second round and LB Kevin Sheppard in the third. All told, Buffalo used seven of its nine picks on this side of the ball. The influx of new talent did not stop there, as the Bills recently signed LB Nick Barnett, who was released by Green Bay to go along with Shaun Merriman, who was added towards the end of last season, after being cut loose by San Diego. The mixture of a couple of former All-Pros with all of the youth on this squad, could actually result in Buffalo fielding one of the better defenses in the league.
An improved defense will certainly help the cause, but this team has a long way to go in the rebuilding process before it can seriously contend in the very competitive AFC East. The culture of losing has crept into the psyche of this franchise over the past several years, and sometimes turning that around is the hardest task on a new coach’s plate.
2011 Prediction: 5-11 and last in the AFC East
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