Earlier this week, the much anticipated 2021 Bills schedule was released. On paper, according to the critics, the Bills have one of the easier schedule in the league.
The Bills managed to get four primetime games. While some of the fan base is unhappy with this, especially one at home, four is better than nothing. One of the prime-time games falls on Thanksgiving. This is arguably the biggest to have a prime-time game, as everyone, the nation, is tuned in to those games. Add on that, they are in the primetime, night slot on Thanksgiving, which makes it even more intriguing. I also think that the Bills’ home opponents went a long way with them not getting more primetime games. The AFC East is still weak, Houston, Pittsburgh, Indy, Carolina, Atlanta, WTF, does not scream must watch football. (I know, the Bills are must-see, though.)
Vs Pittsburgh Steelers – Week 1
The Steelers roll into town to open the season, and I expect nothing less than a packed house. After the season they had last year, Stefon Diggs first home opener with fans, that place will be rocking.
Pittsburgh will test the run defense right away. First-round rookie, Najee Harris, is expected to be the bell cow and handle all the carries he can. It will be interesting to see if one of the biggest weaknesses from last season has improved.
Miami Dolphins – Week 2 (Away) & Week 8 (Home)
Squish the Fish! That saying just never gets old. The Bills play the Dolphins twice in the first eight weeks, the second time coming off of a bye. On paper, the Dolphins have improved on both sides of the ball, but everything will depend on the arm of Tua Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins spent some money and draft capital on wide receivers (Jaylon Waddle, Will Fuller) to give Tua more weapons. On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins went out and traded for a legit LB in Benadrick McKinney and drafted what should be two impactful players in Jaelan Phillips (DE) and Jevon Holland (S). Based on the offseason alone, the Dolphins may be the toughest test in the East for the Bills.
Vs Washington Football Team – Week 3
Fitzy, Fitzmagic, welcome back, old friend! The gunslinger brings his most talented team into Buffalo for what I think will be an early season test for the Bills.
We all know that Fitz is the definition of a gunslinger, and with Antonio Gibson, Terry McClaurin, and Curtis Samuel, he has the firepower to let it rip. The key to this game will be how the offensive line protects Josh Allen. WFT has one of the best defensive lines in the game led by Chase Young. If Young runs free all afternoon, it could be a long day for Allen.
Vs Houston Texans – Week 4
No game is a gimmie in the NFL, but this seems to be the first cupcake of the schedule. It is yet to be known whether it will be another former Bills QB in Tyrod Taylor or Deshaun Watson under center for Houston. Obviously, the Texans are a better team with Watson, but I do not see Houston giving the Bills a problem either way.
@ Kansas City Chiefs – Week 5 – Sunday Night Football
This is the game on the schedule I am most excited about. The two top dogs in the AFC will battle under the lights, in the spotlight of Sunday Night Football.
The Bills spent almost all of the offseason revamping their defensive line with the focus on putting pressure on the QB. Let’s be honest. They had Mahomes in mind the entire time. It is no secret the Bills need to pressure Mahomes more this game, but I want to see the game plan to stop Kelce. Not being able to stop the TE, the bigger, athletic TEs, was a major problem for the Bills last year. Have they learned their lesson and shored up the issue? This will be the game we find out.
@ Tennessee Titans – Week 6 – Monday Night Football
Here are back-to-back primetime games for the Bills as well as another re-match when they stroll into Tennessee.
To be honest, Tennessee really does not scare me. Yes, they have Derrick Henry who can single handily win them any game, but I think they actually got worse over the offseason. They lost Corey Davis and did not do much to address what was a weak defense. If the Bills can contain Henry, I actually think they win this game pretty easily.
Week 7 (Bye)
Week 8 Miami (see above)
@ Jacksonville Jaguars – Week 9
This is the first of back-to-back weeks in which the Bills will see rookie quarterbacks, the top two picks in the draft. First up, the number one pick Trevor Lawrence and his new coach Urban Meyer.
We really do not know what to expect from the Jaguars, if not much at all. Allen and company should have their way with the Jags defense, making Lawrence play catch-up most of the game. I expect the defense to force multiple turnovers this game, with a rookie QB playing catch-up.
New York Jets – Week 10 (Away) & Week 18 (Home)
The second rookie QB in a row was the number two pick, Zach Wilson. Similar to the Dolphins, the Jets spent a lot of the offseason trying to revamp their offense. Wilson, fellow rookie Michael Carter, Corey Davis, Tevin Coleman, and Keenan Cole are all new faces on offense.
Despite the many changes, the results should be the same. Yes, I expect Robert Salah to have a good game plan defensively to try to stop Allen, but I just do not think the Jets offense can keep up.
Vs Indianapolis Colts – Week 11
When the Colts roll into town, it will not be the same Colts the Bills beat in the playoffs last season. The Colts reunited their head coach Frank Reich with his former QB from Philadelphia, Carson Wentz.
Say what you want about Wentz, but the talent is there, and he knows how to command an offense. It is yet to be seen if Reich can capture some of the magic they had together in Philly, but time will tell.
@ New Orleans Saints – Week 12 – Thanksgiving Night
This game has all the makings of a shoot-out. We still do not know who will be starting at quarterback for the Saints, but what we do know is they still have some talented guys on offense. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas still pose a threat to score anytime they touch the ball.
Whether it is Winston or Hill at quarterback, this game is going to come down to the Bills defense getting pressure on the quarterback and forcing two turnover-prone QBs to make mistakes.
New England Patriots – Week 13 – Monday Night (Home) & Week 16 (Away)
By this time in the season, Cam Newton could have very well of been benched, and the Bills will be facing yet another first round rookie quarterback in Mac Jones.
Yes, the Patriots get some defensive starters back from the opt-out list, and yes they went out and signed a bunch of WRs, but they still do not strike fear into their opponents like they use to.
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Week 14
This is another game I am super excited for and one that should be a good litmus test for the Bills.
Beating the Tom Brady, the reigning super bowl champ, at home this late in the season would send a message to the NFL.
With that said, however, it will not be an easy task. The Bucs pretty much returned every starter from their super bowl run and are stout on both sides of the ball.
Vs Carolina Panthers – Week 15
Former division foe, Sam Darnold, comes back to Buffalo with his new squad late in the season.
Darnold is way better off in Carolina than he ever was in New York. He already has better personnel around him in what could be a sneaky high-powered offense.
If Darnold has a good game, that offense could give the Bills fits, but like most of the games on their schedule, the question is can the Panthers’ defense stop the Bills’ offense. More often than not, the Bills’ offense will prevail.
Week 16 – New England Patriots – See Above
Vs Atlanta Falcons Week 17
Just like the New Orleans game, this game could be a shootout.
Matt Ryan is armed with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts, an offense that could go toe to toe with the Bills. A lot will fall on covering Pitts (ala Kelce) and our CB2 covering whoever Tre White is not.
Week 18 – New York Jets – See Above
Ending the season with three of four games at home is a big benefit for the Bills. What I hope does not hurt them is three of the last five are all NFC opponents. Overall, I agree that the Bills seem to have an easier schedule than most. There are a few tough stretches (Colts, Saints, Pats, Bucs later in the season), and their first three opponents are legit, but I can see them going 14-3 and contending for the top spot in the AFC.