Now that the Buffalo Bills 2021 schedule has officially been released, everyone can get their predictions out there. Although not much has changed, we now know when the Bills will be playing each of their opponents. It may not seem like we learned much from the schedule release, but I was surprised how many storylines are created.
Buffalo Bills bye week
For instance, a big part of schedule making is determining which bye weeks are assigned to each team. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. The Buffalo Bills have their bye week in week seven. In week five, the Bills play the Chiefs then follow it up with the Titans in week six. This is debatably their toughest stretch of the season. Yes, it’s nice to get tough games out of the way early. However, it would’ve been nice to have an extra week to prepare for a comparatively tougher opponent.
Instead, the Buffalo Bills come off of their week seven bye to play the Miami Dolphins. To be fair, the Dolphins did finish second in the AFC East last year and did make some key improvements this off-season. With that being said, the Buffalo Bills are extremely familiar with the Dolphins and an extra week to prepare for a familiar foe is overkill. I would be shocked if the Buffalo Bills don’t smack the Dolphins around in week eight. Not only has Josh Allen dominated the Dolphins during his brief NFL career, but now McDermott and the coaching staff have an extra week to prepare.
In addition to Buffalo’s bye week, their opponents’ byes are equally important. As I mentioned above, the Bills have an extra week to prepare for the Dolphins in week eight. Thus, they have a competitive advantage in the preparation department. Conversely, if the Buffalo Bills play an opponent coming off of a bye week, the Bills would be at a competitive disadvantage. Luckily, the Buffalo Bills don’t play a single opponent this year that’s coming off of a bye prior to their matchup with the Bills.
Buffalo Bills on the road
Prior to the schedule release, we knew which teams the Buffalo Bills would be playing on the road. However, we didn’t know if there would be any significant road stretches. Just in terms of time spent on travel and the travel itself, road stretches can be exhausting. Furthermore, with stadiums expected to be at full capacity in 2021, it would be nice to avoid multiple games in a row on the road.
We all know that Bills Mafia reaches beyond just Western New York, but playing at home is an obvious competitive advantage. Therefore, the Buffalo Bills are fortunate that their longest road stretch is two consecutive games. However, that occurrence will happen twice for the Buffalo Bills in 2021. Firstly with games in Kansas City then Tennessee. Then secondly with games in Jacksonville then at the Jets (we’ll call it New Jersey).
Additionally, the Buffalo Bills will significantly cut down on travel compared to last season. Last year, the Bills played against the NFC and AFC West divisions. Hence, there were multiple road games that required cross-country travel. In 2021, the furthest travel distance for the Buffalo Bills is south to Florida. Which the Bills are already used to doing once a year to play their divisional rival Miami Dolphins.
Perhaps the toughest logistical portion within the Buffalo Bills schedule is the Thanksgiving game against the New Orleans Saints. Without Drew Brees as the Saints signal caller, I’m less worried about how the Bills matchup with the Saints. My concern derives primarily from a short turnaround. On November 21st, the Buffalo Bills host the Indianapolis Colts. Then four days later on Thanksgiving night, the Bills travel to New Orleans to play the Saints. The lack of rest and preparation for this matchup are the only two things giving me cause for concern.
Buffalo Bills strength of schedule
Analyzing the Buffalo Bills’ strength of schedule is a very subjective measurement. The most common way to go about it is to use the win/loss records from the prior season. When using this analysis, the Buffalo Bills are considered to have one of the weakest schedules in the league. However, the issue with this measurement is that typically bad teams have a lot of cap space and high draft picks. Therefore, a team that was weak one year prior usually makes plenty of improvements the year after.
For example, as bad as the Jets were in 2020, they will be considerably better in 2021 because of multiple additions in free agency and various top-100 draft picks. Although these potential upgrades have no guarantee of actually improving the team, using last year’s win/loss record isn’t necessarily tried and true either.
Although I’m poking holes into the strength of schedule measurement, the Buffalo Bills should still feel great about the schedule. They may only have one home primetime game, but there are various other factors working in their favor. The Buffalo Bills are still ascending and having the schedule work out the way that it did is another off-season victory.
Air Raid Hour recap
Obviously, yesterday’s episode of the Air Raid Hour was mainly centered on the schedule release. We talked more in-depth about all the things I mentioned in this article, plus more. Judge and Tilt were joined by BF Tailgate host, Jeff Landers, as they gave their reactions to the schedule, thoughts on primetime games, and even their early win/loss record predictions.
If you didn’t catch us live, you can always watch the replay linked and embedded above. Additionally, you can listen to the audio version of the Air Raid Hour on the Buffalo Fanatics Podcast Network. Available on Apple, Spotify, and all your favorite audio platforms.
As always, go Bills!