13 Bold predictions for the Buffalo Bills in 2013
Everyone knows that the Buffalo Bills have not been a factor in, or made even come close to making it to, the playoffs for 13 straight seasons. However, with somewhat of an overhaul that was performed by Russ Brandon during the offseason, the free agent signings, and draft picks from this year’s draft, things are looking up in Buffalo. In honor of the new atmosphere around One Bills Drive, here are 13 predictions for the Buffalo Bills this season to accompany their 13 straight missed playoff berths.
13) Doug Marrone’s new offensive scheme changes not only the AFC East, but the NFL.
New Head Coach Doug Marrone is implementing a new offense for the Bills this season. It’s going to be an up-tempo, fast paced offense, allowing the playmakers on offense to show their full potential. Marrone is looking to get the most out of his players, and several players have already expressed belief and optimism in his new system. If the offense works out the way the Bills expect it to, he will look like a super genius. Marrone’s offensive prowess could single-handedly change the way the AFC East shapes up at the end of the season. His new scheme could also start a trend in the NFL, making him look even smarter and revolutionary. Bill Belichick and the Patriots may be left scratching their heads after all is said and done, and we will find out in Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season. Watch out, Belichick, there’s a new sheriff in charge of the AFC East, and his name is Doug Marrone. One thing to expect from Marrone is the unexpected. Things are going to be interesting this season, that’s for sure.
12) Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and Da’Rick Rogers will start at WR on Opening Day
The Bills addressed a huge need in the draft at wide receiver by drafting USC’s Robert Woods in the second round and Texas’ Marquis Goodwin in the fourth round. Perhaps the best “value” pick the Bills got was in undrafted rookie free agent Da’Rick Rogers from Tennessee Tech. Woods and Rogers seem to be the more likely candidates to start, but Goodwin’s speed cannot be overlooked. His speed will give the Bills’ offense an element they’ve missed since the Don Beebe days. If Goodwin can work on his hands and route running, there’s no telling how far this offense can go with already established starter Stevie Johnson and second year speedster TJ Graham. Woods was considered the most NFL ready WR prospect in the draft, and he will further solidify that claim once the season gets underway. Rogers has great hands as well as good route running abilities, but his off the field issues severely affected his draft stock. Playing in Buffalo should allow him to put his past behind him and become playmaker on this offense that shows so much promise already. Goodwin needs to work on a few things, but that’s what training camps and OTA’s are for. Expect to see all three men (or at least Woods and Rogers) to start on Opening Day alongside Stevie Johnson and TJ Graham.
11) Mario Williams will return to “Super” form in 2013
Mario Williams had a sub-par season for a man who got paid millions by the Bills last season. While nobody knows the real answer to his struggles other than himself, it appears that Williams turned a corner once he had wrist surgery, giving him the ability to firmly plant his hand in the ground and push-off properly to get the drive needed to push offensive lineman aside and get to the quarterback. New Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine will utilize Mario’s skillset to the best of his ability. Add in the fact that Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams are working very together, and Mark Anderson should be returning from his injury that ended his season early, along with newly acquired Manny Lawson and Jerry Hughes, and you have yourself quite the formidable defense. Linebacker Kiko Alonso, drafted in the third round, should also come in and make an immediate impact. Having all these playmakers around him, Mario Williams should shine very brightly this season, and he could even put up career numbers, something Bills fans are hoping for. Don’t expect another down year for number 90.
10) CJ Spiller will be the 2013 rushing yards leader
If there’s one thing the Bills can count on year in and year out, its CJ Spiller’s playmaking ability and elusiveness. The new rule implemented by the NFL penalizing running backs for lowering the crown of their helmets will not affect Spiller at all. When you watch the tape on him, Spiller is a rare breed of running back; he doesn’t need to initiate contact to get defenders to miss him. Spiller has excellent field vision and the type of speed needed to separate from a defender quicker than the average running back. Last year’s rushing leading, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson (2, 097 yards), may be in for a tight battle this year. Doug Marrone knows what Spiller is capable of, and he and new Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will utilize Spiller’s skillset to the best of his abilities. The race for the rushing yards leader this season will be closer than most people may think. Expect CJ to rush for over 2,000 yards with the new offensive scheme being put in place, and keeping things close with A.P. in a battle for a new record for single season rushing yards, with CJ narrowly edging out Peterson, by less than 100 yards.
9) EJ Manuel will win the starting QB job, and will lead the Bills into the playoffs
If anything can be taken from last season’s draft class, it’s that rookie QB’s can be successful when provided the proper opportunity. Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Andrew Luck (Colts), and Russell Wilson (Seahawks) all showed success in their first season as an NFL QB and led their teams to the playoffs. Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers played a major role in getting his team to the Super Bowl (although he isn’t a rookie, he’s still a young QB). Who’s to say Manuel can’t do the same for the Bills this season? Sure, he has a few things to work on, like when he’s pressured in the pocket and his consistent accuracy on deep throws. But he has the big arm talent needed to make it in the NFL, and with speedy wide outs like Graham and Goodwin who both have the ability to break free from coverage, Manuel will have the perfect complement of wide receivers to throw to. Stevie Johnson is an excellent route runner, and what he lacks in speed, he makes up for in creativity to get open. CJ Spiller can catch passes out of the backfield and screen passes for huge chunks of yardage. Manuel will have many weapons at his disposal that he didn’t have at Florida State. If Manuel can duplicate his success at FSU with the Bills, there’s no telling how far this team can go in the playoffs. It may not happen right away, but sooner or later, Manuel will get to be behind center for the Bills this season. Expect big things from Manuel once he’s handed the reins to the offense by Marrone, possibly even Offensive Rookie of the Year.
8) Doug Marrone will be named Coach of the Year
New Head Coach Doug Marrone has changed the attitude in the locker room and with the players at One Bills Drive. That attitude seems to be transcending onto the field and should turn into a very good first year as the Bills’ Head Coach. Marrone hung up a banner in the Bills’ practice facility that reads “Don’t confuse effort for results.” Above the sign; a Vince Lombardi trophy in between the uprights and in the middle of the Bills’ AFC Championship banners. Marrone has brought a winning attitude to Buffalo, and if the Bills manage to make the playoffs, which are a very good possibility, it’s a no brainer that the Coach of the Year Award would go hands down to Marrone. Expect Marrone to work very hard to get this team back into the playoffs and getting that distinction and honor.
7) The Bills beat the Patriots in Week 1, beginning an era as new top dog in the AFC East
For the better part of two decades, the New England Patriots have owned the Bills in face to face matchups; not only in New England, but in Buffalo as well. Some people say it had to with poor coaching and play calling. Other people say it had to do with the personnel the Bills had on the field. While others argue that it’s tough to beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick any given week of the season, let alone trying to do it twice in one year. Whatever the case may be, the losing by the Bills will end this year; and it will start with a Week 1 upset over division rival New England. The new up-tempo, fast-paced offense that Marrone is instilling this season may prove to be too much for an aging Patriots defense. The offense should be able to march down the field with ease and keep the game close. Even though Tom Brady and the Patriots offense is aging, they’re still a lethal weapon and should never be taken lightly. Expect big plays and an upset win by the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. Final score prediction: 34-31 Buffalo; Spiller rushes for 100+ and has 2 rushing TD’s and 1 receiving. Manuel earns the starting nod, overcomes two early turnovers, and impresses with a late comeback drive to win it for the good guys.
6) Stevie Johnson has career year, makes Pro Bowl
Stevie Johnson has been the Bills’ most consistent player over the past three seasons. He became the first Buffalo receiver to record three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, and he knows how to get open to catch a pass. While the Bills have had very inconsistent play at QB over the past decade plus, Johnson remains the one person every QB that has put on a Bills uniform over the past three seasons can rely on to make plays. With newly drafted EJ Manuel, Johnson will have a capable gunslinger to get him the ball; and that could prove to be something that gives Stevie a career year and his first career Pro Bowl selection. If EJ and Stevie get on the same page, there’s no limit to what this offense can do. Expect Stevie’s first career 2,000-yard receiving season for with 10+ touchdowns.
5) Fred Jackson comes back with a vengeance, wins Comeback Player of the Year
By now, everybody knows the story of Bills running back Fred Jackson; undrafted out of Coe College and spent some time in the AFL and even XFL before latching on with the Bills. The Bills saw Jackson as more of an asset than Marshawn Lynch, who was traded to Seattle, and Jackson was given the starting role. Well, since that trade, FredEx has been struggling to stay healthy over the past three seasons and has been unable to play a full season. In 2010, Jackson was carrying the Bills on his back and on his way to a sure-fire MVP season. He broke his leg, and that ended his career season, one in which CJ Spiller had a chance to display his talents, and the Bills haven’t looked back ever since. Former Head Coach Chan Gailey tried implementing a two back system, but it was clear who his favorite was; Freddie Jackson. Spiller would break long runs and nearly get into the end zone, only to see FredEx come in and get the touchdown after a 5-yard run. One thing Jackson has that nobody can ever take away from him is heart. He gives his all on every down and lays his heart on the field. If Marrone and Hackett can find a role for Freddie that isn’t too overwhelming, he has a chance to thrive in this offense. Expect Jackson to get his fair share of touches and prove to the world that he’s still as good as he ever was.
4) EJ Manuel and Robert Woods become the next Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne
One of the deadliest combinations of QB and WR to ever play on the same team was Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne. They set all sorts of records for passing yards and touchdowns, and they were always on the same page. That being said, it must make sense that the Bills drafted EJ Manuel and Robert Woods back to back for similar reasons. These two young men are the future of the franchise. If Manuel and Woods can get on the same page, there will be plenty of celebrating in Western New York when football is in season. That’s not to take anything away from Stevie Johnson, Marquise Goodwin, Da’Rick Rogers, TJ Graham, or any other receiver on the roster. It’s just simply saying that, with the first and second-round draft picks the Bills made, it’s obvious they’re looking for chemistry; much like Jim Kelly and Eric Moulds had as well as Andre Reed. Good teams have multiple receivers with good hands and route running ability. By adding all these receivers into the mix, it gives Manuel plenty of targets with reliable hands. But Woods and Manuel have the potential to blow all the Manning/Wayne records out of the water if the Bills play their cards right. The Bills are hoping this happens. Expect to see the numbers start piling up rather quickly, and even Johnson, Goodwin, and company will have impressive numbers with number 3 throwing to them for many years to come.
3) The Bills will finally start winning the close games
What’s been the downfall for the Bills over the past several seasons is their ability to win close games. They had a game against the Steelers in OT where Stevie Johnson was wide open and dropped the game winning TD pass. There was the Sunday Night game against Dallas, where the Bills lost on a last second field goal after holding the lead in the 4th quarter. The list goes on and on. If the Bills would’ve hung on to win the close games, those seasons could’ve meant so much more to the team in terms of making the playoffs. It’s always been said that the “good teams win close games.” If the Bills want to be successful and make the playoffs, this is the first major aspect of their game they need to fix. Expect Marrone and company to quickly resolve this issue and see a lot more highly contested games for the Bills this season.
2) The longest active playoff drought in the NFL ends in 2013
The Bills have been bottom feeders and basement dwellers for long enough. The players, coaches, personnel, and fans are tired of being the laughing-stock of the NFL. With Marrone and company at the helm, and Russ Brandon taking over control of the team from Mr. Wilson, the Bills finally put it all together and make the playoffs, the first of many playoff berths in the future. The Bills will be tougher to beat than year’s past, and it all starts with the attitude Doug Marrone has brought with him from Syracuse. The New York native is not going to just lie down and let other teams walk all over his beloved Buffalo Bills. Things are going to change this season and the Bills are legitimate contenders. Not only will the playoff drought end, but the Bills will be one of the better teams in the AFC this season. Expect to see the Bills in the playoffs for the first time in 13 years.
And here is the number one bold prediction for the Buffalo Bills in 2013:
Super Bowl XLVII Champions
Hey, what’s a bold prediction article without the boldest prediction of all? Is it possible? Sure, anything is possible. Is it likely? Not really. As it stands, the Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC East, and that’s only going to change once another team does something about it. This is the year the Patriots rein at the top of the AFC East ends and the Bills will take over as a new regime begins. The Bills will play at a much higher level of competition than they played in even the 90’s during the Super Bowl years, and it will pay off with an appearance in the Super Bowl, beating the NFC with a final score of 38-27. It won’t even be close, and the Bills get that
first Lombardi trophy that’s been evading them since the Music City Miracle and before. Expect big things for the Buffalo Bills in 2013.
Before you start spitting out your milk and rolling on the floor in laughter, keep in mind these are bold predictions. It would be great to see some of them happen, but it’s not likely in year one of a team with a new Head Coach and all the offseason personnel signings and all the draft picks. One thing is for certain: the Bills are more exciting this season than they’ve been in a long time. Redemption will be sweet when Marrone and the Bills finally get to hoist that elusive and much deserved Lombardi trophy. Expect nothing less than the best from Buffalo in 2013. LET’S GO BUFFALO!!!!!