2017 NFL Pick ‘Em Pool: Buffalo Bills Predictions

Tyrod Taylor wants to know what more he has to do in order to get some respect around Orchard Park.

Last season, he was benched in Week 17 to avoid triggering a clause that would guarantee the option in his contract. Rex Ryan and general manager Doug Whaley are now gone, and the Bills have turned to Sean McDermott as their new head coach. His first move as the rookie head coach…selecting Nathan Peterman in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. McDermott immediately called the quarterback competition “open” and declared, “You earn the right to start on this football team.”

Meanwhile, Taylor led a team with abysmal wide receivers to a 7-8 record in his 15 starts a season ago, and he did so ranking ninth in Football Outsiders’ Quarterback Rating.

Consistency at quarterback was one thing the Bills had going for them, which they’ve likely now botched, and that’s why they will be an iffy selection in our weekly NFL Pick ‘Em Contests.

Why the Bills Will Overachieve in 2017

Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison reinstalls the system Taylor learned as Joe Flacco’s backup quarterback in Baltimore and immediately finds success. Taylor is asked to do less with his legs and more with his arm, and we find out that he makes some pretty darn good decisions with the pigskin. He only threw six picks last year, and in 2017, Taylor finishes third in the NFL in TD/INT ratio at 26/4. In the process, Zay Jones puts up a 1,000-yard campaign and wins Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The Bills play beyond their means merely because Sexy Rexy is no longer there. In a related story, they cut their penalties in half from their ridiculously high 127 from a year ago. Their relatively easy schedule sets up well early in the season, and by the time December rolls around, Buffalo is still in the midst of the playoff fight. The Bills don’t quite get there, but they look back at a 9-7 season with pride. New GM Brandon Beane finally does Taylor a solid and locks him into a nine-figure contract during the offseason.

Why the Bills Will Underachieve in 2017

The Bills inexplicably decide that Cardale Jones should be their starting quarterback in Week 1, and he promptly throws three first-half interceptions against the Jets. Taylor enters the game in the second half, rallies the team to a couple of touchdowns in a game that is still lost. McDermott tabs Taylor to start in Week 2 at Carolina, but a two ugly losses cause him to lose his mind and let Peterman saddle up under center.

Taylor is never heard from again. LeSean McCoy breaks down as he approaches 2,000 career carries, and Sammy Watkins manages to become the first player in NFL history to suffer a turf toe injury while watching game film during the team’s Week 6 bye.

Thus, the Buffalo offense is left with Peterman, Jones, Andre Holmes, Corey Brown and Jonathan Williams as the skill position players. Never heard of those guys…we haven’t either. Predictably, the Bills go on to average less than 17 points per game. Their worst stretch comes with three home games against the Patriots, Colts and Dolphins in December where they’re pounded by a combined 65 points.

2017 Buffalo Bills Schedule

Week 1: vs. Jets
Week 2: at Panthers
Week 3: vs. Broncos
Week 4: at Falcons
Week 5: at Bengals
Week 6: Bye
Week 7: vs. Buccaneers
Week 8: vs. Raiders
Week 9: at Jets
Week 10: vs. Saints
Week 11: at Chargers
Week 12: at Chiefs
Week 13: vs. Patriots
Week 14: vs. Colts
Week 15: vs. Dolphins
Week 16: at Patriots
Week 17: at Dolphins

Bills Pick ‘Em Contest Best Bet: Week 3 vs. Broncos
The Denver defense wasn’t broken down often last year, but when it was, it was the speed teams that got the job done. For all their woes the Bills look good along the offensive line, and even when things break down, Taylor (assuming he’s actually the starter) can make things happen with his legs. If Jones is ready to make an impact at wideout, the Bills can run a track meet with Denver. On the other side of the ball, Shaq Lawson could make life a living hell for whatever revolving door the Broncos put at right tackle.

Bills Pick ‘Em Contest Top Fade: Week 16 at Patriots
We know the certainties in life. Taxes are due April 15, you will die at some point, and the Bills are going to lose in New England. We get it. But this one has some extra meaning for the Brady Bunch. The Pats were shut out for the first time ever at Gillette Stadium by the Bills last year, albeit with third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett under center. What did the Pats do in the return game with Tom Brady reinstated? They won 41-25. Since 2001, the Bills are 2-14 in Foxboro, and last year’s game really shouldn’t count. New England is 28-4 in its last 32 games against the Bills so fade away in Week 16.

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