Saturday, July 26, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - Buffalo Bills

BUFFALO BILLS                                                            

2013 Record: 6-10-0

Key Additions: WR Mike Williams; LB Brandon Spikes; CB Corey Graham.

Key Losses: WR Stevie Johnson; S Jairus Byrd; DT Alex Carrington.

HEAD COACH: Doug Marrone

Offense: E.J. Manuel is back to start at quarterback after an up and down rookie season in which he threw for 1,972 yards with 11 TD passes and nine interceptions. He also scored two rushing touchdowns while going for 186 yards on the ground. Thad Lewis (1,092 yards passing with four TD and three picks) is the backup.
The running game will feature T.J. Spiller (933 yards rushing with 4.6 ypc average) and Fred Jackson (890 yards with nine TD and 4.3 ypc average) once again with Bryce Brown providing an occasional spell for the Bills' running duo. The wide receivers include top rookie draft pick Sammy Watkins (Clemson) and Mike Williams (22 catches with two TD grabs with Tampa Bay in 2013) along with T.J. Graham (23 receptions for 361 yards and two TD) and Ramses Barden. The tight end is Scott Chandler, who led the Bills last year with 53 receptions for 655 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The line features center Eric Wood, guards Kraig Urbik and Chris Williams and tackles Chris Hairston and Cordie Glenn. Rookies Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama) and Cyril Richardson (Baylor) and Doug Legursky are available as well in the trenches.

STATS- The Bills ranked 19th in total offense last season (338 yards per game) while finishing second in the NFL in rushing the ball with 144 yards per game and 28th in passing with 194 yards per game. Buffalo averaged 21 points per game, which ranked 22nd in the league.

Defense: Up front in the Bills' 4-3 set will be ends Alan Branch and Mario Williams (13.5 QB sacks in 2013 to lead the team) and tackles Kyle Williams (10.5 sacks) and Marcell Dareus, who had 7.5 QB sacks. Jerry Hughes backs up Williams at end and recorded 10 QB take downs last season. Jarius Wynn is another player the Bills will look to up front in 2014.
The linebacking corps has Keith Rivers at one outside spot (All Pro OLB Kiko Alonso was lost for the season with an injury early in training camp) while newcomer Brandon Spikes will man the middle. The other LB position could go to Ty Powell or possibly rookie Preston Brown (Louisville)  both of whom can play middle linebacker as well.
The secondary is loaded with ball hawks in corner men Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore, who made two interceptions a year ago. The safeties are Aaron Williams (four picks) and Da'Norris Searcy.  Jairus Byrd left for New Orleans and veteran Jim Leonhard is gone too so the Bills will look to youngsters such as Jonathan Meeks and Duke Williams, Ron Brooks and rookie Ross Cockrell to fill the voids. Veteran Corey Graham, a playoff hero for Baltimore two seasons ago, is also on hand to provide depth.

STATS- The Bills were second in the NFL in both sacks (57) and interceptions (23) a year ago while ranking fourth in the league against the pass, giving up just 204 yards per game. The run defense was weak, allowing 129 yards while finishing 28th overall. Buffalo's defense allowed 24 points per game a year ago while finishing tenth overall, giving up 333 yards per game.

OUTLOOK: Playing in the AFC East means having to beat out the New England Patriots for the division crown and that isn't likely to happen once again in the 2014 season. The Bills are a team on the rise with some good young players and a solid running game. The defense is decent enough to keep the team in games.
Head Coach Doug Marrone would like to see more development from Manuel at the quarterback position this season to go with the rushing attack and keep opposing defenses honest.
Figure on Buffalo improving slightly from a year ago (6-10 fourth place finish in AFC East) with a 7-9 record as they continue to build for the future.

Week 1 - at Chicago
Week 2 - vs. Miami
Week 3 - vs. San Diego
Week 4 - at Houston
Week 5- at Detroit
Week 6- vs. New England
Week 7- vs. Minnesota
Week 8- at NY Jets
Week 9 - BYE WEEK
Week 10- vs. Kansas City
Week 11- at Miami
Week 12- vs. NY Jets
Week 13- vs. Cleveland
Week 14- at Denver
Week 15- vs. Green Bay
Week 16- at Oakland
Week 17- at New England

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