Just because the Buffalo Bills are only looking at their next opponent, that doesn't mean we can't jump the gun and see what's coming. Each week, we'll be looking at the next few opponents on the schedule to see what might be in store when they face off against the Bills. We call it our Pro Personnel Department series.
Week 3: Bills at Dolphins
Week 2: Dolphins (1-0) at Jaguars (0-1), Sunday, 9/20, 4:05 p.m. ET
Week 1 review: For a team that is supposedly improved enough to challenge for a playoff spot, they had a lot of trouble against a Washington squad that finished 4-12 last season and was starting a quarterback that has spent his entire career surrounded by trade rumors. Ryan Tannehill had a perfectly mediocre day (22-of-34, 226 yards, one touchdown), and the defense let Alfred Morris gash them to the tune of 4.8 yards per carry. Were it not for the special teams bailing them out at the end, they might have been the only AFC East team to start off the season with a loss.
Week 2 viewing points: Can they play to the level that they were expected to show this season against a weak Jacksonville squad? For all of their faults, the Dolphins handled Kirk Cousins with relative ease, holding him to 196 yards and picking him off twice. They follow that up by facing Blake Bortles, who performed even more poorly against a defensively-inferior Carolina squad that spent half the game without its best player. If they can't win this game decisively, it might be time to wonder how good this team really is.
Player to watch: WR Jarvis Landry. While his game-deciding punt return touchdown was the obvious highlight, he also caught eight passes for 53 yards. He was easily the star of the Dolphins offense, and perhaps the best player they put on the field on Sunday. If they manage to integrate him into the offense more, and they play better as a result, he would definitely be someone the Bills will need to game plan for.
Week 4: Bills vs. Giants
Week 2: Giants (0-1) vs. Falcons (1-0), Sunday, 9/20, 1:00 p.m. ET
Week 1 review: It's easy to forget, largely because of the debacle in the final minutes of their game against Dallas, that for about 58 minutes they had the defending NFC East champs (and a trendy Super Bowl pick) on the ropes. The defense, minus Jason Pierre-Paul, gave up 436 yards to the Cowboys. Eli Manning, fresh off of signing a hefty contract extension, threw for 193 yards and no touchdowns. Still, they forced three turnovers, including one that was returned for a touchdown. They kept Dallas out of the end zone until there were about four minutes left in the third quarter. They showed a lot to like... until those final two minutes. This isn't a team to be overlooked.
Week 2 viewing points: Will they be able to punch it into the end zone against Atlanta? Four Giants drives, including the ill-fated one around the two-minute warning, ended in Josh Brown field goals. It's a familiar sight for Bills fans, seeing drives come close to scoring seven yet yielding only three. We know how much better the Bills could have been if they could have converted more of those into touchdowns last season, so it'll be worth watching whether or not the Giants can improve in that regard against a Falcons defense that didn't force any punts in the second half against Philadelphia.
Player to watch: RB Rashad Jennings. The Giants spent most of the game rotating the backfield, giving four different runners a carry, but Jennings had the bulk of the workload and really failed to deliver. If you subtract his long run of 27 yards, he averaged a hair over two yards per carry for the rest of the game. In addition, he didn't have the presence of mind to override Manning's request to stop short of the goal line at the end of the game, when a touchdown would have given his team a two-score lead inside of two minutes. It's generally wise to defer to a two-time Super Bowl MVP, but that was one case where he should have shown a greater understanding of the game situation. It'll be important to see not only how he responds, but if he managed to stay out of Tom Coughlin's doghouse and remain the top runner for the Giants moving forward.
Week 5: Bills at Titans
Week 2: Titans (1-0) at Browns (0-1), Sunday, 9/20, 1:00 p.m. ET
Week 1 review: After one week, they have the same record as they did to start off last season. Of course, they only managed one more win the rest of the way and landed high enough in the draft to pick their potential franchise quarterback. Marcus Mariota leads the way this year, and threw four first-half touchdowns en route to a 42-14 shellacking of Tampa Bay in his NFL debut. While Mariota and the offense stole the show, the Titans' pass rush was incredibly effective against Tampa, keeping Jameis Winston on the run for most of the game. All in all, they have a good shot at equaling their win total from last season after two weeks in 2015.
Week 2 viewing points: Can the pass rush keep it up against Cleveland? Tennessee's front four, especially Jurrell Casey, were in hot pursuit of Winston all day. It hurt them a few times when Doug Martin was able to take advantage of the over-pursuit, but for the most part, Winston spent most of his debut running for his life. Cleveland's starting quarterback should have a lot to do with the Titans' defensive game plan, and if Johnny Manziel ends up having his number called for Cleveland, Tennessee's defensive plan will probably look a lot like it will when they face off against the Bills three weeks later.
Player to watch: QB Marcus Mariota. I try not to be obvious and highlight the quarterback, but this one is too obvious. Mariota is the talk of the league after becoming just the second quarterback in NFL history to record a perfect quarterback rating in Week 1 of his rookie season with more than one pass attempt. Mariota did a great job picking apart the Tampa defense, taking any openings he could find. He struggled a bit on the few times Tampa managed to generate a pass rush, including one play where he almost lost a fumble in his own end zone. It will be interesting to see how he responds to a defensive scheme like Mike Pettine's, where he'll face a lot more pressure than the Bucs threw at him.