Bills top wide out Stevie Johnson had a performance to forget on...
BuffalOkie Mondays: 2013 Week-by-Week Predictions, Part I
Back in June, I brought you a glance at the Bills’ 2013 schedule, in which I simply looked at Buffalo’s opponents and previewed possible storylines surrounding those matchups. I didn’t dare actually predict outcomes back then, because we didn’t even know who the starting quarter back would be in 2013.
Well, assuming EJ Manuel continues his current pace of recovery from a “minor” procedure on his left knee, the first-year man out of Florida State will be the one leading the charge (I know, I know…) when the Bills take the field against New England to open the season. Knowing that, and having seen a bit of what we can expect from the new offense AND defense, it is now time for part one of my 2013 week-by-week predictions:
Week 1: vs. New England
EJ Manuel does indeed come back from his minor setback in time to start this game, and gives Bills fans plenty to get excited about in his first NFL start. After some early jitters, the rookie gets it going and his offense follows suit. Unfortunately, Tom Brady is still the best passer in the league and, even without some of his tradition weapons, he proves to be too much as the Pats win 34-27, and Buffalo opens the season 0-1.
Week 2: vs. Carolina
After getting embarrassed by dual-threat quarterbacks in 2012, the Bills will have an opportunity to show they can reverse that trend under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine when Cam Newton brings his Panthers into the Ralph in week 2. Newton out-flashes Manuel, but the rookie gets the last laugh as CJ Spiller and the Bills’ ground game carries the team to a thrilling 24-23 win. Bills improve to 1-1.
Week 3: at New York Jets
Remember when the Bills went into the Meadowlands to open the 2012 season and had their ballooning excitement promptly deflated when they were out-everything’d (yeah, that’s a word) by a not-very-good Jets team in a painful blowout loss? Well consider this a heaping pile of payback. CJ Spiller absolutely goes off against a run defense that was awful in 2012, and the Bills win 31-13 to move to 2-1 on the year.
Week 4: vs. Baltimore
Here’s a depressing equation for you: Joe Flacco + his deep ball threats + whichever below-average cornerbacks the Bills throw out there with Stephon Gilmore = a long day at the Ralph.
The Ravens will take a step back from their 2012 Superbowl campaign, but there is still a ton of firepower on that team, and the Bills secondary won’t be able to stop it. Ravens win 35-20 and Buffalo falls to 2-2.
Week 5: at Cleveland (Thursday night)
Thursday night road games are scary, no matter what team you are playing. Both teams will be improved and Cleveland will be anything but a pushover in 2013. Many NFL fans will roll their eyes at this matchup, but those who tune in will be treated to a fun game that features a lot of exciting young talent on both sides of the ball. Rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins goes 3-for-3 in a game in which both offenses struggle to finish drives. Bills win 23-20 and improve to 3-2.
Week 6: vs. Cincinnati
Cincinnati is going to be very good in 2013. VERY GOOD. An offense led by the Andy Dalton-AJ Green connection has plenty of weapons, and the defense is one of the best in the NFL. The Bills’ offense struggles to get it going on the road, and the defense eventually gives way. Bengals win 34-17 and the Bills fall back to .500 at 3-3.
Week 7: at Miami
Most see the AFC East pecking order as Pats on top, Jets on bottom, and the Dolphins and Bills fighting in the middle. Bills will have a chance to leapfrog Miami in that race with a road win, but they will have to show that the Doug Marrone-lead squad will be better on the road and against division opponents than the Chan Gailey-led squad. I personally think that Miami’s “huge” offseason has been slightly overblown. Plus, I’m certainly not a believer in Ryan Tannehill. Bills go into Miami and get a very important 31-30 victory to improve to 4-3.
Week 8: at New Orleans
There are a couple of factors at work here: the Bills secondary playing indoors against a potent passing offense AND the fact that I’m pretty certain that the Saints will be out to destroy everything in their path this year. EJ, CJ, SJ and whatever other something-J’s the Bills have will be able to put up some points against a putrid New Orleans defense, but at the end of the day, it won’t really matter. Drew Brees lights it up, the Saints cruise to a 38-24 win, and the Bills head into the halfway mark 4-4.
So the 2013 Bills go 4-4 through their first eight games. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section and check back next Monday for the second half of my predictions.