Going into the 2013 season one could have easily predicted the Bills offense would struggle. New head coach, new offensive coordinator, new rookie QB and new schemes usually don't produce effective offenses early. The Bills offense has been good at times and bad at times but mostly inconsistent and mistake prone. Whether it's turnovers, missed opportunities, bad throws, drops etc... the Bills offense is far from being a well oiled machine. However, the Bills have faced some of the NFL's best defenses early this season. Making their task even more difficult.
The Bills (2-4) have faced the Patriots, Panthers, Jets, Ravens, Browns and Bengals so far this season. While playing a bad team or 2 can skew stats I think you can look at a team after 6 games and draw some conclusions. Even if they're not set in stone quite yet.
Depending on which category you look at Buffalo's offense has played some excellent defenses. Consider the following courtesy of ESPN stats:
Yards given up: Patriots (19), Panthers (1), Jets (6), Ravens (22), Browns (10) and Bengals (11)
Yards given up per game: Patriots (14), Panthers (3), Jets (4), Ravens (17), Browns (7) and Bengals (8)
Passing yards per game: Patriots (13), Panthers (7), Jets (12), Ravens (17), Browns (8) and Bengals (9)
Rushing yards per game: Patriots (24), Panthers (4), Jets (2), Ravens (7), Browns (7) and Bengals (10)
Points per game: Patriots (4), Panthers (2), Jets (15), Ravens (13), Browns (11) and Bengals (7)
Looking at these rankings through week 6 one can see a trend. Outside of the Patriots bend but don't break defense (as evidence by mediocre rankings but 4th in the league in PPG) the Bills have faced the majority of the NFL top defenses with Carolina especially looking excellent on defense. Baltimore has fallen off their typical top ten but they are still a very good defense and pose problems for every team.
The disclaimer here as I mentioned above is that since Buffalo has played all of these teams the stats could be skewed. So let's take a quick look and see how the Bills offense did against these defenses.
YPG - yards per game, RYPG - rushing yards per game, PYPG - passing yards per game, PPG = points per game
I'll have the teams average then how the Bills faired as the second number.
YPG = 347.7, 286
RYPG = 118.8, 136
PYPG = 228.8, 150 (EJ Manuel's first start in the NFL)
PPG = 16.2, 21
YPG = 299.2, 436
RYPG = 88.8, 149
PYPG = 210.4, 287
PPG = 13.6, 24
YPG = 303.8, 328
RYPG = 75.7, 120
PYPG = 228.2, 208
PPG = 22.5, 20
YPG = 352.5, 350
RYPG = 98.2, 203
PYPG = 254.3, 147
PPG = 21.5, 23
YPG = 312.5, 343
RYPG = 98.2, 155
PYPG = 214.3, 188
PPG = 20.8, 24
YPG = 317.7, 322
RYPG = 101.3, 130
PYPG = 216.3, 192
PPG = 18.5, 24
So what do these stats tell us? Well first stats are for losers and we're sitting here at 2-4 so there's that....
Skewing opposing defenses stats?
If you look at these top defenses then you can see that Buffalo hasn't been a team that skews the stats making these teams look better than they actually are. For all the negativity that Nathaniel Hackett has received his offenses have had to face the very best defenses in the NFL and have more than held their own. The stats show that Buffalo has been mostly better than the opposing defenses median or right on par. Certainly not anything that's making these top defenses look better than they are.
If you wanted to make an argument for making the opposing defenses look better than they are you could point to our passing attack and how the yardage there is lower than the medians for the opposing defenses. This, however, is probably mainly the Bills trying to protect Manuel by not asking him to do too much.
So what does this mean for the future? I have no idea. However, you can easily conclude that Buffalo's offense has been very battle tested this far in 2013. Going forward, with hopefully a healthy EJ Manuel sooner than later, this team should benefit from these tough defenses and particularly tough defensive fronts. Will that equate to more wins? I have no clue, but it's worth taking a look at.