In the SB Nation NFL season preview, I was asked “Why are the Buffalo Bills going to go all the way in 2017?” The cynical answer was “They aren’t” but that makes for bad reading. Here’s what I wrote:
“A new-look defense helmed by head coach Sean McDermott is going to return Jerry Hughes to his dominant pass-rushing self, while Tre’Davious White, and Micah Hyde can snag interceptions in the backfield. Offensively, Charles Clay or Zay Jones will emerge as Tyrod Taylor’s safety valve while LeSean McCoy leads the league in rushing. If they’re going all the way, they will need to click on all cylinders and avoid injuries.”
I think Hughes is the key to the entire season. If he can return to his 10-sack seasons he enjoyed playing in the 4-3 defense before Rex Ryan arrived, the Bills’ defense is going to be just fine. Adding Shaq Lawson’s pass rush moves and a healthy Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus up the middle and the front four is going to be formidable. Ever with a major regression from Lorenzo Alexander, the Bills’ pass rush will be fine.
Offensively, McDermott has said they are going to ride McCoy all season. That’s good, because Tyrod hasn’t shown very much in the Rick Dennison offense. His timing can’t be better after a week and a half on the bench following his concussion and the absence of Jordan Matthews all preseason. The Dennison offense is based on timing, not Taylor’s strong suit, so Buffalo is going to need to rely on McCoy.
The New England Patriots may or may not have shown they were human on Thursday night. Buffalo could finally do it in 2017 and break their long playoff drought. That’s why they play the games.