Young Bills Look to Circle the Wagons in 2013
There was a time when the Buffalo Bills were not only the best team in the AFC East, but the class of the entire conference. Between 1988 and 1995, the Bills won six out of eight AFC East championships, reached the Super Bowl four consecutive times, and had one of the greatest QB/RB/WR tandems (Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed) in NFL history.
They haven’t won the division since. How long has it been since Buffalo won the AFC East? In the 17 NFL seasons played since 1995, the Indianapolis Colts have more AFC East titles (1) than the Bills. Seeing that the veteran nucleus just wasn’t winning at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Bills ownership has made a commitment towards developing a new, younger set of players.
Expectations aren’t entirely high for Buffalo in 2013, but there is reason for optimism in Orchard Park. Rookie QB E.J. Manuel from Florida State will compete with Kevin Kolb for the starting job. Dynamic RB C.J. Spiller should see a bulk of the carries for the Bills after posting a combined 1,703 yards and 8 TDs in the 2012 NFL season. And the defense boasts some gifted young players, including Jairus Byrd, Mario Williams and NT Marcel Dareus.
The 2013 Buffalo Bills certainly aren’t lacking in young talent. But will that make up for a lack of experience?
Buffalo Bills: 2012 team ranks
Team record: 6-10 (4th in AFC East)
Total offensive rank: 19th (25th pass, 6th rush)
Total defensive rank: 22nd (10th pass, 31st rush)
2013 Buffalo Bills: offensive preview
If the Buffalo Bills are going to win games in 2013, rookie head coach Doug Marrone will have to decide who his quarterback is and let the offense develop naturally. Kevin Kolb joins the Bills in an effort to rehabilitate his career after a dreadful stint in Arizona; he will compete against rookie E.J. Manuel for the starting job. Buffalo’s receiving corps is led by veteran WR Stevie Johnson, rookie WRs Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, and TE Scott Chandler.
If there’s one thing that Buffalo has proven it can do, it’s run the football. RB C.J. Spiller had the breakout year that scouts expected, leaving Bills fans drooling and AFC East rivals scratching their heads. Spiller looks to repeat his 2012 performance and should have plenty of opportunities with a questionable QB tandem. Backing up C.J. Spiller is Fred Jackson, a solid RB contributor in his own right.
2013 Buffalo Bills: defensive preview
Ironically, the Buffalo Bills were as poor at stopping the run as they were great running the football in 2012. The Bills ranked a horrific 31st against the run last season, giving up a horrific 145.8 yards per game on the ground. Nose tackle Marcel Dareus must anchor the base 3-4 front line; he is flanked by Alex Carrington and Kyle Williams.
The linebacking corps is a mix of Pro Bowl veterans and new talent. Mario Williams must stay on the field to earn his mega-contract, and also to help teach rookie ILB Kiko Alonso, who will likely start. Manny Lawson will work the other outside linebacker position.
The secondary is a relative source of strength for Buffalo, ranking 10th in the NFL in total passing defense last season. In a division that features Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, the Bills’ secondary must remain vigilant. Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd anchor a unit that will likely only improve in the 2013 NFL season.
2013 Buffalo Bills: a manageable schedule
While the 2013 Buffalo Bills will face their share of tough contests, there are opportunities for this team to win games. And 3 of their toughest out-of-division games this year – Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals – will be played at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to an observant reader who noted that the Bills vs. Falcons game will be played in Toronto.) Road contests against the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Bucs and Pittsburgh Steelers may prove to be too daunting this year.
Here is the full schedule, home and away, for the Buffalo Bills in the 2013 NFL season.
Home: New England, Carolina, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kansas City, NY Jets, Atlanta* (Toronto), Miami
Away: NY Jets, Cleveland, Miami, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, New England
- Marcell Dareus on New Era caps, 2013 Buffalo Bills season (buffalorumblings.com)
- Jairus Byrd: Let The Byrd Loose (buffalowdown.com)
- Is the Buffalo Bills Lineup Good Enough to Win Now? (football.answers.com)