The 2020 Buffalo Bills could emerge as the new favorites in the AFC East
A lot has changed in the AFC East in the offseason.
This could finally be the year where a changing of the guard also takes place.
In the first installment of our series “Know Your Enemy”, we take a look at the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo finished the 2019 regular season at 10-6 before an exit in the Wildcard Round versus Houston.
They added several pieces on both sides of the football, particularly on defense – while also parting ways with some established veterans.
Sean McDermott enters his fourth year (25-23, 0-2) calling the shots in Buffalo, having made the playoffs twice over his first three seasons.
Expectations will be high for the Bills in the new look AFC East, their overall profile is on the rise.
They caught some breaks in 2019, such as avoiding voluminous injuries as the Bills had a league-low 57 different players see action.
Taking all that into account, Buffalo is a sexy pick to make a significant run into the postseason.
DT Jordan Phillips
EDGE Shaq Lawson
WR Stefon Diggs
OLB Mario Addison
CB Josh Norman
DT Vernon Butler
OLB A.J. Klein
OT Daryl Williams
— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrownBills) March 31, 2020
Bills Keep Depth on Defense
The Bills added a lot of depth to an already superb defense.
Buffalo finished second in the NFL surrendering just 16.2 points per game in 2019, and third in yards allowed at just 298.2.
The Bills were a middle of the pack defense in terms of sacks, finishing 12th with 44 on the year.
Jordan Phillips is a big loss as he cashed in on a career high 9.5 sacks at the right time, signing a 3-year 30M deal in Arizona.
To replace him the Bills brought in Vernon Butler, who at age 25 is coming off his best year.
Bulter had six sacks in 2019 for Carolina after just 1.5 in his first three years combined.
Outside linebackers Mario Addison and A.J. Klein are nice additions to a young linebacker group that lost Shaq Lawson to Miami.
Lawson is also coming off a career year as he finished with 6.5 sacks.
Phillips and Jordan accounted for over a third of Buffalo’s sacks last season, the new players will have to make up a lot of ground.
On the outside the Buffalo Bills secondary is one of the better groups in the NFL.
Tre’Davious White tied for the league high with six interceptions and has emerged as one of the top corners in the game.
While they may not be full of household names, the Bills’ defense has solid depth and talent at all three levels.
Much Needed Help Arrives Outside
Stefon Diggs is the highest profile free agent signing and gives Buffalo a true No. 1 receiver.
Pairing Diggs with speedster John Brown will give opposing secondaries a lot to think about at all levels.
Brown tied for the team lead with six touchdowns and led the team with 72 receptions and 1060 yards.
While Diggs is joining Buffalo after his second consecutive 1000-yard season, he had a career high 1130 yards and 17.9 yards per reception last year.
Cole Beasley was surprisingly effective, joining Brown with six scores and finishing second with 778 yards.
Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Buffalo is how quarterback Josh Allen progresses in a key third season.
If you’re uncertain of how far six feet actually is when it comes to social distancing, just watch Josh Allen throw a deep ball to one of his receivers and that’ll be a good indicator. pic.twitter.com/F8KqhIO4fy
— Tyler Zupan (@tzupes) March 29, 2020
Allen has been much maligned for his accuracy as shown by his 56.3% completion rate, however he did show significant growth from his rookie season.
His ability outside the pocket makes him ever-dangerous, just ask any fan of the Miami Dolphins.
Allen has three of his four highest quarterback ratings against Miami and gashed the Dolphins’ defense for a career high 135 yards rushing in 2018.
Couple that with his 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions in four games against Miami, Allen seems to save his best for the Dolphins
He can make all the throws necessary and with the addition of Diggs, Allen has someone who runs crisp routes and can get separation which will help the erratic signal caller.
That being said, teams will still try to force Allen beat them more often than not.
FAU grad Devin Singletary looks to build off a solid rookie season and expand his role both on the ground and in the passing game.
— Anthony Talks Stuff (@AATalkStuff) April 1, 2020
Singletary finished 2019 with 151 carries for 775 yards and two touchdowns. His 5.1 yards-per-carry ranked seventh in the NFL last year.
So far Frank Gore remains a free agent and a return to Buffalo seems unlikely. T.J Yeldon will likely see some reps as a change of pace, but Buffalo may be one team that utilizes a feature back. Allen was second on the team in 2019 with 510 rushing yards, he could exceed that total this season.
Singletary can stay on the field on all downs and is a great option out of the backfield. He caught 29 passes for 194 yards last year but did struggle at times with drops. Singletary seems to always be moving in the right direction, his 2.7 yards-before-contact was a top-10 mark last year.
Buffalo will need to find a way to bolster an offense that ranked 23rd in the NFL scoring 19.6PPG last year, a mark just .5 points better than the Dolphins.
The addition of Diggs will surely help an offense that finished 26th in yards-per-game (201.8), and if Allen can get his completion percentage over 60% the passing game could become serviceable.
With McDermott at the helm you know the formula will be to control the ball on offense with the run game and play sound defense.
Buffalo is a team with few glaring weaknesses but also few marquee names, a lot of analysis is based on potential.
Time will tell and fans of the Dolphins will get their annual double dose of the Bills, who have won five of their last six games against Miami.