Are the Bills Game set to become the new kings of the AFC East?
That’s a realistic question for the first time in two decades, with Tom Brady’s departure from the New England Patriots leaving the future of the division up for grabs.
The Bills finished second to the Pats last year with a 10-6 record to qualify for the playoffs for the second time in three years.
Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane made a trade with the Minnesota Vikings to fill one of the team’s most glaring needs: a true No. 1 wide receiver in Stefon Diggs for quarterback Josh Allen. It headlined an efficient offseason by the team’s front office.
Let’s check out the Bills’ complete schedule for 2020 as announced Thursday on their official website. That’s followed by analysis about what to expect next season.
Buffalo Bills Schedule
Week 1: vs Baltimore Ravens, August 13-17
Week 2: vs Atlanta Falcons, August 20-24
Week 3: vs Indianapolis Colts, August 27-30
Week 4: vs Detroit Lions, September 3-4
Regular Season Schedule
Week 1: vs New York Jets, Sunday, Sept. 13
Week 2: vs Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 20
Week 3: vs Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Sept. 27
Week 4: vs Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Oct. 4
Week 5: vs Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 11
Week 6: vs Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, October 15 (TNF)
Week 7: vs New York Jets, Sunday, October 25
Week 8: vs New England Patriots, November 1
Week 9: vs Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, November 8
Week 10: vs Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, November 15
Week 11: BYE, Sunday, November 22
Week 12: vs Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, November 29
Week 13: vs San Francisco 49ers, Monday, December 7 (MNF)
Week 14: vs Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, December 13 (SNF)
Week 15: vs Denver Broncos, Saturday, December 19 or Sunday, December 20
Week 16: vs Patriots, Monday, December 28 (MNF)
Week 17: vs Miami Dolphins, Sunday, January 3
Brady’s exit from New England can’t be understated from Buffalo’s perspective. It typically takes 10 wins to safely qualify for the playoffs, and the Patriots posted a 32-3 record against the Bills with the future Hall of Famer under center since 2000.
In turn, Buffalo was often forced to post a 10-4 record in its remaining 14 games to make the postseason, which played a major role in its 17-year playoff drought that finally ended in 2017.
Those games against the Pats should no longer be virtually automatic losses. It gives the Bills more margin for error, especially with the extra playoff spot now available in each conference.
On the flip side, Buffalo’s schedule for 2020 is among the league’s toughest on paper. Its group of opponents are tied for the fifth-highest winning percentage (.525) based on 2019 records, per CBS Sports.
The Patriots shouldn’t be quite as dominant, creating an extra path to the playoffs via the division title, but the Bills’ roster is also improved. Along with Diggs on offense, the defense was bolstered by the additions of Mario Addison, Josh Norman, Vernon Butler, Quinton Jefferson, A.J. Klein and rookie A.J. Epenesa.
If Allen takes a step forward in his third year as the team’s starting quarterback, Buffalo could emerge as a legitimate sleeper in the AFC contender discussion.
Everything starts with the AFC East for the Bills. Going at least 4-2 within the division would create an extremely doable path to at least 10 victories with multiple different routes to the playoffs.
The question is whether Buffalo is aiming for something bigger—maybe even the No. 1 seed in the AFC if everything falls perfectly. That’s a far tougher task, though.
Allen and Co. have both of last season’s Super Bowl teams on the schedule in the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. Those games in particular will be outstanding measuring sticks to see whether the Bills are prepared to reach a championship-contention level.
All told, taking care of business against the Patriots, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets should be the main focus. A two-game sweep of the Pats would also allow the franchise to jump a mental hurdle that has been in place for nearly the entirety of Brady’s career.
Games against the Chiefs, Niners and Seattle Seahawks will tell fans more about the team’s true upside.