The NFL is set to release the 2013 regular season schedule tonight at 8PM in a special aired on NFL Network. We'll obviously cover that this evening when the schedule is released; in the meantime, here's a review of the Buffalo Bills' opponents heading into the new year. (Essentially, we're just waiting on dates and the announcement on which game will be played in Toronto.)
AFC East opponents
As always, the Bills will play each of their three divisional opponents - the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets - once at home and once on the road. Buffalo is 4-14 against their AFC East brethren over the last three years, so Doug Marrone and company have their work cut out for them trying to be more competitive in-division.
NFC South opponents
Each AFC East team will play each NFC South team once this year. These two divisions last faced off in 2009, when the Bills were still coached by Dick Jauron and Perry Fewell.
Home opponents: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers. Buffalo beat Carolina in a 20-9 finish that featured three Jake Delhomme interceptions (two of them to then-rookie Jairus Byrd), but Atlanta crushed Buffalo 31-3 in a game that featured Terrell Owens' 1,000th career catch - from starting quarterback Brian Brohm.
Away opponents: New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Buffalo beat Tampa 33-20 in 2009 - Donte Whitner had a pick-six in that game - but New Orleans dominated Buffalo 27-7 the following week, racking up 222 rushing yards and shutting out Trent Edwards and the Bills' offense. Buffalo's only touchdown against New Orleans came on a fake field goal touchdown pass from Brian Moorman to Ryan Denney.
AFC North opponents
Each AFC East team will play each AFC North team once this year. These two divisions last faced off in 2009, with the Bills going 1-3 in those contests.
Home opponents: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals. Buffalo played both of these teams on the road in 2010; they beat the Bengals 49-31 in the official Stevie Johnson coming-out party (three touchdowns and one "Why so serious?" t-shirt), and played the Ravens to an exciting 37-34 overtime loss despite falling to 0-7 in the effort.
Away opponents: Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers. Buffalo handled Cleveland in a boring late-season football game in 2010 (and also beat them on the road in 2012), and they lost to Pittsburgh at home, in overtime, in a game now famous for Johnson's dropped game-winning touchdown and post-game tweet.
AFC South/West opponents
From an opponent standpoint, each AFC East team will only have two games that are unique from the rest of their divisional foes. In the Bills' case, that will be their fourth-place matchups with the bottom-feeders in the AFC South and the AFC West. In this year's case, that means games against the two teams with the top two picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Home opponent: Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills and Chiefs have met once in each of the last five seasons. Buffalo is 4-1 in those contests, outscoring the Chiefs 156-78 in the process. Kansas City is the one team that the Bills have routinely handled of late, but the Chiefs have done an awful lot to get better this off-season.
Away opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars. These two teams last met a year ago, with the Bills dominating the Jags in a 34-18 win at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Next year, the matchup will take place at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.