Heading into 2021, the Buffalo Bills have a clear target on their backs. There appears to be a new era of football in the AFC East, with the Bills firmly at the top.
The 2021 season is all about building on the success from 2020. Josh Allen needs to solidify himself as an elite quarterback and the Bills need to hold off advances from Miami and New England to keep control of the division.
Buffalo returns much of their core from their strong 2020 season as it hopes to get over the hump and make the Super Bowl for the first time since reaching (and losing) four straight, most recently in 1994.
Buffalo Bills 2021 Schedule
The breakdown for all NFL teams can be found on BetUS, as we take a look at all things Buffalo Bills. First, their 2021 schedule:
|Week 1||Sept. 12||vs. Pittsburgh|
|Week 2||Sept. 19||at Miami|
|Week 3||Sept. 26||vs. Washington|
|Week 4||Oct. 3||vs. Houston|
|Week 5||Oct. 10||at Kansas City|
|Week 6||Oct. 18||at Tennessee|
|Week 7||Oct. 24||BYE|
|Week 8||Oct. 31||vs. Miami|
|Week 9||Nov. 7||at Jacksonville|
|Week 10||Nov. 14||at New York Jets|
|Week 11||Nov. 21||vs. Indianapolis|
|Week 12||Nov. 25||at New Orleans|
|Week 13||Dec. 6||vs. New England|
|Week 14||Dec. 12||at Tampa Bay|
|Week 15||Dec. 19||vs. Carolina|
|Week 16||Dec. 26||at New England|
|Week 17||Jan. 2||vs. Atlanta|
|Week 18||Jan. 9||vs. New York Jets|
As a reminder, the NFL has expanded their regular season to include a 17th game, so the entire regular season is now 18 weeks long.
The Bills have some tough games on their schedule, with away games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Headed into 2021, the AFC East feels like a middle-of-the-pack division. The Patriots are still working to find their new identity in the post-Tom Brady era while the New York Jets are annually a weak team. The Dolphins went 10-6 last season and could go either way, dependent on a jump from second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Buffalo draws the NFC South and AFC South this season, both favorable divisions compared to some of the other options. Tampa Bay is obviously a tough team, but the rest of the NFC South doesn’t offer much resistance, especially with the New Orleans Saints figuring out who to start at quarterback.
This is a manageable schedule for Buffalo, giving the team a good chance of repeating as AFC East champions.
Buffalo Bills News & Picks
Buffalo Bills 2020 Summary
It was a great season for Buffalo. Josh Allen took a massive leap in his third season, leading the Bills to a 13-3 record.
Buffalo won the AFC East and a pair of playoff games, eventually falling to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.
Allen saw a massive uptick in all of his statistics, most notably an increase in his completion percentage from 58 percent to nearly 70 percent. The offseason trade for wide receiver Stefon Diggs was a huge jolt for this offense and is the foundation for sustained success.
Diggs led the NFL in receiving, finishing with 127 receptions for 1,535 yards and eight touchdowns. No team deployed four receivers more than the Bills, and the passing game was the clear elite unit for this team and the reason for the 13-3 record and deep playoff run.
Josh Allen finished with 4,544 passing yards and 37 touchdowns to go along with 421 rushing yards and eight more touchdowns.
Two of the more popular analytical sites had similar rankings for both sides of this Buffalo team. The offense was graded out as a top-five unit by both Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus. FO ranked the Bills defense 12th in the NFL while PFF graded the Bills D as 17th.
Buffalo Bills Key Players
Buffalo has a strong core on both sides of the ball, but it’s no secret how important the quarterback position is to its success.
Allen’s continued growth will be paramount for a team to make a Super Bowl run. The team showed its faith in Allen by signing him to a six-year contract extension worth $258 million on Aug. 6, making him the second highest-paid player in the NFL.
Diggs returns to lead a wide receiving corps that includes Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis. Dion Dawkins and Daryl Williams are the two tackles for an offensive line that was a top-five pass-blocking unit last season.
The defense is led by edge rusher Jerry Hughes, CB Tre’Davious White and safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. Hughes is one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers and a massive piece for this Buffalo defense.
Buffalo Bills New Additions
In the draft, the Bills invested in their defensive line with their first two picks, drafting defensive ends Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham.
In free agency, Buffalo added veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The only other free agent addition that is noteworthy was the signing of former Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to serve as the backup to Allen.
Buffalo Bills Key Subtractions
The most notable departure was wide receiver John Brown. They also lost rotational defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson.
Buffalo Bills Divisional Outlook
The Bills are firmly in the driver’s seat of the AFC East, evidenced by their -150 odds to win the division. After a 13-3 season in which Buffalo went 6-0 in the division, the expectation is Buffalo is in a good spot heading into 2021.
Buffalo returns almost every key contributor on both sides of the ball and has the best quarterback in the division. The Jets shouldn’t offer much of a challenge in 2021, eliminating one team from contention. Both the Dolphins and Patriots are a bit unknown. Miami and New England both made a lot of additions this offseason, but until they get more consistent quarterback play, they’re on the outside looking in.
For the rest of the AFC East and NFL, explore our team pages here.
Buffalo Bills Offense
The narrative heading into 2020 was that Buffalo needed more from its offense to be competitive. They got that and then some with the huge progression from Allen and the addition of Diggs.
This Buffalo offense was explosive all season. The Bills ranked second in both yards per game and points per game. Scoring over 31 points per contest and generating nearly 400 yards a game put a strain on opposing defenses.
There’s every reason to believe the Buffalo offense can continue its dominance in 2021.
Buffalo Bills Defense
There’s strong continuity on the defense, a unit that will need to be slightly better in 2021. Statistically, Buffalo’s 2020 defense was average.
Considering the 15 total wins, it’s clear the defense wasn’t a liability holding Buffalo back.
However, if the defensive line can get to the quarterback at a higher clip, the sky’s the limit for the season ahead. Hughes received some reinforcements in the draft, so expect more sacks in 2021.
Tre’Davious White finished with three interceptions in 2020, and will need to be more of a dominant force in pass-coverage.