Buffalo Bills schedule analysis

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
8:26
PM ET
NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Predictions

Breakdown: The Buffalo Bills will open their 2014 season on the road in Chicago, the third time in the last four seasons that they'll open on the road. The Bills will open with three road games in their first five contests and will play each of their division opponents once before their bye week. After having the NFL's latest possible bye week last season, it is favorably placed this season, coming in Week 9. The Bills' only prime-time game comes in Week 11, a Thursday night contest on the road against the Miami Dolphins. The Bills haven't played a "Monday Night Football" game since 2009 and haven't played on Sunday night since 2007. Those two streaks will continue. If the Bills want to make the playoffs, they'll have tough sledding late, ending their schedule at the Denver Broncos, at home against the Green Bay Packers, at the Oakland Raiders, and at the New England Patriots.

Complaint department: The Bills often savor opportunities to play cold weather teams late-season at Ralph Wilson Stadium. That won't happen this season. Three of their final four games are the road, while their lone home contest in December is against another northern team, the Packers. The Bills will also host two other cold weather teams in November: the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets. It's worth noting, however, that the Bills hosted the Dolphins in late December last season, a shutout win for Buffalo. It's fair that the NFL scheduled the Dolphins' trip to Buffalo in September this time around. Still, the Bills can't be too happy with their late season schedule, which includes tilts against Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady as possible barriers between the Bills and the playoffs -- if they're still in the hunt.

Bye, bye Toronto: The Bills announced this last month, but for the first time since 2007 the Bills will not play in Toronto. The Bills will have eight home games, making it even harder for the Bills to sell out their home slate. They struggled to sell out last season, with late owner Ralph Wilson stepping in twice to prevent a blackout, while their home finale against the Dolphins was blacked out. This year, the Bills will almost surely sell out their first three games: against the Dolphins, Chargers, and Patriots. They have four home games after their bye week that may create a challenge for their ticket office, but if the Packers come into Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 14 still in the playoff hunt, it will help the Bills' chances that day.

Strength of schedule: 14th, .500 | Vegas over/under : 6.5

Bills Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 7, at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 14, Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 21, San Diego, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sep. 28, at Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, New England, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, at NY Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 13, at Miami, 8:25 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, NY Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, at Denver, 4:05 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, at Oakland, 4:25 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, at New England, 1 p.m.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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