Since the beginning of this year we have been hearing how lockout is bad for rebuilding teams and how it tilts the table in favor of already playoff ready teams. That statement is very accurate. But that doesnt predict how many wins bills will have. That doesnt mean we will continue to be a 4-12 team.
The experts say, if the lockout continues till the end of june, the players will miss out on OTA's and mini-camp and a most of the training camp will just go into learning the playbook. The rookies, UDFAs and UFAs will be completely raw in their schemes. The contribution from the rookies will be very minimal and even high profile free agents wont contribute significantly.
All that is true. But here is the difference. The bills are essentially returning with the same coaching staff as last year. The players have a year's experience in their playbook. But what to me looked unusual was the no.of our opponents that are in an unstable position organization wise. This is what will lead to more wins for us. Let's take a look at the schedule.
Wk 1 - KC - Last year we lost a close overtime game. We matched-up pretty well. The difference this year is, Charlie Weis, last year's OC left the chiefs. He is the guy who made their offense run heavy and made cassel look so good. Without him, not only cassel might suffer but the team didnot get a chance to practice their new playbook.
Prediction: Again a close game but Bills might open the season with a W. 1-0
Wk 2 - Oak - Oakland were better last year than us. But a lot of things have changed. Their coach, against the wish of the players, was fired and they have a new coach. The new coach's system is not yet in place. Plus they might be losing 2 out of 5 of their OL, which made their offense so good last year. And of course, their poor secondary will be weaker with asomugha leaving.
Prediction: A close W for bills. 2-0
Wk 3 - Pats - I wish this is the year we win against them but the rich get richer holds true here. L. 2-1
Wk 4 - Bengals - The bengals might have improved their team by deletion of ocho and TO. But a rookie QB without offseason is disaster. I dont think Palmer would be back now with his house sold already. Bills W but much closer than last year. 3-1
Wk 5 - Phi - Straightforward. L. 3-2
Wk 6 - NYG - away at meadowlands. No chance. L. 3-3
Gm 7 - WAS - the redskins come to toronto with John Beck. I think shanahan wants to pick high next year to get a good qb. Again unstability at QB. we will win fairly convincingly. 4-3
Gm 8 - NYJ @home - I dont see us beating them this year. But I want to wait and see what they do in FA. They might lose a bunch of players. For now, L. 4-4
Gm 9 - Dal - Again, they have a new coach. But I have a bad feeling about this one. Bills will lose at dallas. 4-5
Gm 10 - @ Mia - I think we will lose this away game. Miami is coming back more or less the same from last year. Sparano and Henne might be de-spirited by the actions of the owner in the off-season. But after half the season, hurt feelings wear off. 4-6
Gm 11 - @NYJ - blow out. last of the straight 4 losses. we are happy to return home. 4-7
Gm 12 - TEN - new coach and a new QB. especially locker with his inaccurate hand in a rookie year. I think we will eek out a close win at home. 5-7
Gm 13 - @SD - if merriman is healthy, he will try to kill SD himself. but I still see a loss here. of course, they did lose their defensive coordinator, ron rivera who went to the panthers. 5-8
Gm 14 - Mia - We will get our first and only division win this year at home. 6-8
Gm 15 - Den - Denver defense will still leak. By now they would have realized they should have taken dareus. Bills W. 7-8
Gm 16 - @ Pats - another blow out loss. 7-9
So season prediction: 7 - 9.
The thing to notice here is all the wins except Miami I have attributed to the other team being in worse stable situation than us. None because of us being highly superior. So in my opinion, if bills go 7-9 next season, I will not get excited and call it a progress. I think to call next season a progress, the bills need to be atleast 8-8.
Also, if they are worse than 7-9, i wouldnt be bothered, as that gives us a good draft position in a non-playoff year.
Now if the lock-out is lifted soon, bills will lose that advantage of carrying over from last year. Then our record might be worse. I will re-analyse this again after the lockout is lifted and all the FA activity is over.