Saturday, July 25, 2015

2015 NFL PREVIEW - Buffalo Bills

BUFFALO BILLS                                                          

2014 Record: 9-7-0 (2nd in AFC East)


New Players in 2015- QB Matt Cassel; WR Percy Harvin; RB LeSean McCoy; TE Charles Clay; OL Rich Incognito.

OFFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 26th in NFL (318.5 ypg)

DEFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 4th in NFL (312.2 ypg)

Offense: The Bills added running back LeSean "Shady" McCoy in the off-season. McCoy gained 1,319 rushing yards (4.2 ypc average) with the Philadelphia Eagles last season and scored five touchdowns while also hauling in 28 passes (way down from his 2013 production in that area) for another 155 yards. Fred Jackson (525 rushing yards with 3.7 ypc average to go with 66 receptions) scored three touchdowns in 2014 and will spell McCoy in the Bills backfield.
In addition to that, Matt Cassel will take over at quarterback after being benched in Minnesota last year as super rookie Teddy Bridgewater emerged as the QB of the future there.
Cassel is no shoe-in as E.J. Manuel (838 passing yards with five TD and three INT in 2014) will be back in 2015 trying to regain the starting spot. Tyrod Taylor comes over from Baltimore via free agency to add depth.
The wide receivers have Sammy Watkins (65, 982, 15.1 ypc average and six TD), Robert Woods (65, 699, five TD) and tight end Charles Clay (58, 605, three TD), who comes over from the Miami Dolphins. Percy Harvin, who had a forgettable 2014 season with the NY Jets, is also in camp as a third wideout option. Harvin had just 29 receptions and one touchdown last season.
The line features center Eric Wood, guards Chris Williams and Rich Incognito (yes that Rich Incognito who played along with Jonathan Martin in Miami two years ago) and tackles Seantrel Henderson and Cordy Glenn.

Defense: The Bills can get after opposing passers, evidenced by the 54 sacks they had last year to lead the NFL.
Up front is nose tackle Marcell Darius (10 sacks), tackle Kyle Williams, who registered 5 1/2 sacks and ends Mario Williams (14 1/2 sacks) and Jerry Hughes, who had 10 sacks.
The linebacking unit has middle man Ty Powell, who is flanked by outside men Randell Johnson and Nigel Bradham. The secondary has safeties Aaron Williams and Duke Williams. The corners include Leodis McKelvin (four interceptions) and Stephon Gilmore (three picks).
Others in the fold are Corey Graham and Bacarri Rambo, who each intercepted two passes last season. The Bills totaled 19 interceptions, which ranked sixth in the league.

OUTLOOK FOR 2015 - With new Head Coach Rex Ryan in town, there will be very few dull moments for Bills fans this season.
The Bills showed vast improvement last year, going 9-7 after three consecutive 6-10 campaigns. A late season loss to the lowly Oakland Raiders wound up costing the Bills a possible playoff spot, something they haven't had since the 1999 season.
The offense must improve and with McCoy teaming with Jackson in the backfield and the Ryan mantra of "ground and pound" while playing stellar defense, the Bills should make a serious run for the post-season this time around, barring any major injuries of course.
The quarterback position is iffy with Cassel and Manuel battling for the spot, but either way the team has decent wide receivers and a quality tight end to throw the football to. Plus McCoy and Jackson are both adept at catching the ball out of the backfield.
A fast start is critical for Buffalo this season as they see the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in Week Two after a tough opening day assignment against Indianapolis before traveling to Miami in the third week.
The Patriots have owned the AFC East for about a decade and a half and the Bills have to stay close to have a shot at winning the division.
They can be playoff contenders this year, but a lot will hinge on the play of the quarterback position and how well the team adapts to the style of Ryan and the ball control offense and aggressive defense he likes to employ.
Another 9-7 season could be in the offing for 2015, possibly 8-8 or worse if the quarterback play isn't what the team expects from Cassel and/or Manuel.
The playoffs are not out of the question, but they certainly are no lock either.
Stay tuned!

Week 1 - vs. Indianapolis Colts
Week 2 - vs. New England Patriots
Week 3 - at Miami Dolphins
Week 4 - vs. New York Giants
Week 5 - at Tennessee Titans
Week 6 - vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 7 - at Jacksonville Jaguars (London, England)
Week 8 - BYE WEEK
Week 9 - vs. Miami Dolphins
Week 10 - at New York Jets
Week 11 - at New England Patriots
Week 12 - at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 13 - vs. Houston Texans
Week 14 - at Philadelphia Eagles
Week 15 - at Washington Redskins
Week 16 - vs. Dallas Cowboys
Week 17 - vs. New York Jets

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