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Initial thoughts about Buffalo Bills’ 2023 NFL schedule

Lots of time in the spotlight, few early games, and plenty of challenges — familiar and otherwise — await the Bills this coming season

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills’ 2023 NFL schedule has dropped, and there are tons of interesting scenarios and more to ponder.

The Bills will begin their season facing three teams in the month of September with three new starting quarterbacks. With head coach Sean McDermott taking over play-calling duties for this season, we could see some interesting calls designed to further pressure familiar faces in new places.

The Bills will play in three consecutive primetime games between Weeks 8-10 — hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TNF), at the Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday Night Football), and hosting the Denver Broncos (MNF). In a span of five weeks, they’ll play four of their five total primetime games, beginning with the New York Giants in Week 6.

Immediately after that three-game primetime slate, Buffalo will play five consecutive 4:25 p.m. EST games (with a bye sandwiched in-between).

A huge benefit for the Bills will come via the extra prep time they get before facing the Cincinnati Bengals. That’s because after hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a matchup on Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football for Week 8, the team gets a mini bye ahead of the Week 9 clash in Ohio. That TNF game will be the first home game for Buffalo since Week 2 of 2016.

Speaking of prep time, when the Bills face the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12, they’ll have a slight advantage in preparation with the Eagles playing on Monday Night Football the week prior, Week 11.

The Bills once again head to Missouri to play the Kansas City Chiefs (Week 14), but this year Buffalo gets a bye week of rest before what should be the latest installment in one of the NFL’s most recent epic rivalries.

Many suspected the Bills would be given an early bye with their Week 6 game “hosting” the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, England. Not so, thankfully.

About that bye in Week 13 — it’s the latest bye the franchise has ever had in 64 seasons between the AFL and NFL.

On the topic of familiarity: Like clockwork, one could predict the Bills and Tennessee Titans playing one another at least once in recent seasons. Not in 2023. With the Jacksonville Jaguars winning the AFC South last year, it bumped the Titans out of the Bills’ matchup window for this season.

The Bills avoid the South Beach heat and the Dolphins avoid the bitter cold (and maybe wind/rain) of Western New York. Miami heads north for a game in Orchard Park, NY on October 1 — during some of the best weather to be found in the region. Meanwhile, Buffalo travels south for the weekend of January 6-7 (2024), when far more pleasant temperatures will bring them relief from extreme late-summer heat along a sideline lacking adequate shade from the sun.

How the mighty have fallen. Once primetime darlings who’d crush almost anyone in their path, the New England Patriots will face the Bills in a pair of 1:00 PM ET games. The first meeting will take place outside of December of January for the first time in three years.

Let’s hope Buffalo’s success on the road continues for the 2023 NFL season. Games at the Jets, Bengals, Eagles, Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, and Miami Dolphins will provide a true test for their ability to win in hostile environments against great teams. If they fare well, they should be battle-tested to face any scenario come time for the NFL playoffs.

Rest up, Bills Mafia! Overall, the Bills will play eight straight games outside of the 1:00 p.m. ET window over the second half of the season. Furthermore, the team’s schedule only has them playing five 1:00 PM ET games from September through December — three of which are against AFC East teams.

Impressively, six of the Buffalo Bills’ games this coming season start at 8 p.m. ET or later, which feels like a nod to the ratings boost Bills games bring networks.

Richard Deitsch, a writer with The Athletic, revealed that the promotional lead-up to Bills-Jets Week 1 will serve as an appetizer of sorts for “what ESPN/ABC airing a Super Bowl will be like,” per the tweet embedded here.

Deitsch also pointed out the lengths to which “ESPN execs lobbied” for the Week 1 matchup, likely in response to the viewership that tuned in for Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos’ Week 1 game against the Seattle Seahawks last season.

That’s what I think off the bat, looking at the Buffalo Bills’ schedule for this season. What about you, Bills Mafia? What sticks out as you look at the team’s next 17 games?