Besides free agency and the draft, when the NFL releases the official schedule it’s a major step to the beginning of the season. This when fans get to see their’s favorite teams’ opponents and make possible predictions. The Buffalo Bills will go into the season with the 18th toughest schedule in the league.
Coming off their first playoff appearance in this century last season, the Bills are looking to get back into playoff contention once again under Sean McDermott. The Bills headed into last season with a ranked tougher schedule. They played against teams like the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons, both who looked scary good going into the season. The Bills ended up sealing victories against both teams and picked up wins in key matchups that helped them reach the playoffs.
The Bills are a new team going into 2018. No more Tyrod Taylor, Half of the offensive line from last season is gone and there are two new quarterbacks in town. The defense looks to be turned around as well. There are key matchups for the Bills this season; some of them could even determine their spot when it comes to potential playoff football.
Week 1: @ Baltimore Ravens
These two teams competed for the last available spot in the wild card round last season. The Bills came up big against the Miami Dolphins and the Ravens let up a comeback against the Cincinnati Bengals that allowed the Bills to advance into postseason football. Both of these teams are more than likely to compete for a wild card spot against one another. Whoever takes this game will have the upper edge if they both end with the same record and are fighting for a playoff spot.
Week 3: @ Minnesota Vikings
In order to compete with the best, you have to beat the best. The Bills did this such thing last season against the Falcons. The Falcons were a clear favorite with the overall better team but the Bills shocked the NFL by beating them in Atlanta in a hostile home crowd.
Now, this Vikings team is much more talented than last year’s Falcons team but you Cana argue that the Vikings will be the Bills toughest opponent this season. The Vikings added more value, they didn’t lose any. This Bills cannot afford to make almost any mistakes in this game. If the Bills do pick up a victory in this week, this will set a tone for the rest of the season for the Bills.
Week 7: @ Indianapolis Colts
With Andrew Luck coming back, the Colts are putting themselves into a competitive edge for the AFC South as well as the NFL. Luck is much like Aaron Rodgers when it comes to his team. He doesn’t have a lot around him, yet he still finds a way to win.
As long as the Bills don’t underestimate this Colts team and can contain Luck, the Bills won’t need any type of Luck to come away with a victory against the Colts.
Week 8: New England Patriots (MNF)
Other than the Vikings game, this is a huge game for the Bills and a big opportunity for them to show what their made of. It’s been a decade since they hosted a Monday night game. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots come to Western New York and they’re coming to face not only a newer Bills team, but the same rough and rowdy Bills home crowd.
The last time the Bills beat the Patriots when Brady was the starter? It was back in 2011 when Brady threw four interceptions. An AFC East showdown between these two will be a game to watch, especially for Bills fans.
Week 12: Jacksonville Jaguars
Doug Marrone comes back to Buffalo for the first time since taking off on the team in 2014. The two teams met in the AFC wild card round last season, but it took place in Jacksonville. Since that game, the Jaguars were arguably one play away from taking down the Patriots to advance to the Super Bowl and they have added more to their defense and their running game on offense.
The Jaguars seem to have committed to the run game for Leonard Fournette. Instead of trying to re-sign Allen Robinson, they let him walk and they also released Allen Hurns. They added offensive guard Andrew Norwell as well as Taven Bryan and Ronnie Harrison. The Bills have a big matchup against the Jags this week. The Bills defeated the Jags in 2016 in the regular season, but both were two completely different teams.
Week 17: Miami Dolphins
For a second consecutive season, the Bills take on the Dolphins in the final week of the regular season. The only difference? It’s in snowy and cold-weathered Buffalo, NY rather than sunny Miami, FL. If anything pans out like it did last season for the Bills, it will take until the last week to determine if the Bills make it into the playoffs again.
The Bills defeated the Dolphins in Week 17 last season and received the help they needed from the Bengals, who beat the Ravens to get the Bills into the playoffs. This game could be a go-big or go-home game for the Bills.
Brandon Ray is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL and the Buffalo Bills. Follow him on Twitter at @brandon_ray79 and @FPC_Bills for Bills coverage.