The Professor’s 2021 NFL Preview: AFC East – Buffalo Bills


Buffalo Bills

Team Projection

TeamPoints ForPoints AgainstGames FavoredPythagorean Expected Wins

Given that the Bills added defensive ends Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham with their first two selections in the 2021 Draft, we have a fairly definitive answer as to what general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott felt was the problem behind their defensive decline in 2020. Though the struggles up front were a clear issue throughout the season, it was possible that the Bills would have looked to add some speed on the back end given their inability to cover Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill in the AFC Championship game, but it would seem they didn’t allow themselves to be overly swayed by that one game.

One curious note on the decision to add Rousseau and Basham is that many draft analysts highlighted the pair’s ability to play end on base downs before kicking in to rush from the inside on third down. Veteran Jerry Hughes remains in place as a viable edge rusher, and Buffalo will hope to get more from last year’s second-round pick, A.J. Epenesa, on the edge, but given that they used the 8th overall pick on an undersized defensive tackle, Ed Oliver, a few years ago, it was something of a surprise to see them add two ends who profile as interior rushers in sub-packages. Then again, it’s entirely possible the Bills had a different take on this tandem; we’ll have to wait for the season to see how that plays out. On the back end, linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds return along with the safety tandem of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, as well as star corner Tre’Davious White, a group that has provided this defense with a strong core for several seasons.

On offense, the decision to replace the departed John Brown with veteran Emmanuel Sanders in free agency signals that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll intends to continue making heavy use of the 10 personnel package (4 receivers, 1 running back) while leaving the offense on Josh Allen’s shoulders. Allen certainly earned that trust in 2020, when his improved game put him on the fringes of the MVP discussion, but even so, it wouldn’t have been a shock had the Bills looked to upgrade at running back given the struggles of Devin Singletary and Zach Moss last season. However, it seems that they will hope for improved health on the interior of the offensive line and an uptick in play from Singletary and/or Moss to get the run game back to where it had been in 2018 and 2019.

As for the offensive line, the slated starting five of Dion Dawkins, Cody Ford, Mitch Morse, Jon Feliciano, and Daryl Williams is a very solid group. A rash of injuries on the interior resulted in a revolving door of starters last season, but if this group is healthy, Allen should have all the protection he needs to continue destroying opponent defenses with a deep group of weapons led by a superstar Stefon Diggs. The scary thought? While it’s almost impossible Allen will make another jump close to those he made from Year 1 to 2 and 2 to 3, he’s still on an upward trend, and additional improvement would move him from the fringe of the MVP race to the thick of the discussion as the best quarterback in the NFL.

QB Passing Projections

Josh Allen117448.7636.90.77.754938.436.913.524.94

QB Rushing Projections

Josh Allen117103.75.55575.8825.65024.94

Skill Projections, Rushing

Devin SingletaryRB8617135.54.80650.53.833.523.58.78
Zack MossRB14817126.34.30543.
Matt BreidaRB2161731.24.87152.
Isaiah McKenzieWR285178.13.6029.

Skill Projections, Receiving

Stefon DiggsWR21773.7131.512.821685.
Cole BeasleyWR661771.281.011.22908.36.517.917.710.03
Devin SingletaryRB861779.144.96.94311.
Emmanuel SandersWR951769.562.311.48715.
Gabriel DavisWR1411757.335.813.70489.75.59.815.05.89
Zack MossRB1481774.318.95.1397.
Dawson KnoxTE1911762.123.713.18312.
Matt BreidaRB2161778.016.98.25139.
Jacob HollisterTE2541761.118.67.55140.
Isaiah McKenzieWR2851776.215.09.19138.
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Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.