Buffalo Bills: 2021 schedule analysis and predictions

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) stiff-arms Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) stiff-arms Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. /
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Week 12 – at New Orleans Saints

The Bills are back playing on American Thanksgiving, this time in the Bayou against the Saints.

For the first time since 2006, Drew Brees won’t be running through the Mercedes-Benz Superdome tunnel. While there is still some debate as to how much head coach Sean Payton will use utility man Taysom Hill, it appears that Jameis Winston will be taking the reigns.

The last time we saw Winston as a starter, he was putting up insane numbers. With Tampa Bay in 2019, Winston threw for over 5,000 yards and 33 touchdowns. However, you can’t spell Winston without INT, and the former national champion at Florida State led the league with 30 picks in his last full season. While he is erratic, he is entertaining.

As far as supporting cast goes, the cupboard isn’t bare in New Orleans. When he’s healthy, Michael Thomas is a top-five calibre receiver. Alvin Kamara remains a major threat out of the backfield in both the running and passing game. The defence is still formidable, with veterans like Cameron Jordan and Marcus Williams patrolling the scene.

But seeing as the Bills had so much fun after their Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys in 2019, there’s no way they turn down another turkey leg.

While Winston is solid, he feels like a bridge to next year’s draft class. With Tre’Davious White locking down Thomas, the Bills feast in the Saints’ first year post-Brees.

Prediction: 34-24 Bills

Week 13, Week 16 – vs New England Patriots

Cam Newton might be starting the year as New England’s quarterback, but by Week 13 when Monday Night Football comes to Orchard Park, there’s a solid chance that Newton will be riding the bench.

The Patriots nabbed their quarterback of the future in Mac Jones this draft cycle. Coming off of a national championship win at Alabama, there are still questions surrounding Jones’ viability as an NFL starter. While he does possess pinpoint accuracy, Jones is Tom Brady-like in terms of physical mobility. If his career turns out half as well as the seven-time Super Bowl champion, the Patriots will be happy.

In looking to give both Newton and Jones a better supporting cast this year, New England made some splashes in the free agent market. Fresh off of a breakout year with Las Vegas, the Patriots brought in wide receiver Nelson Agholor. They also added depth at tight end with Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. On the defensive side, the Pats picked up ex-Raven Matthew Judon and brought back former Patriot Kyle Van Noy from a tough stint in Miami to fortify the linebacking corps.

The Patriots figure to be Buffalo’s biggest threat to a second-straight AFC East crown. But with uncertainty at quarterback, the Bills make it four straight wins against New England.

Week 13 (in Orchard Park) Prediction: 23-16 Bills

Week 16 (in Foxborough) Prediction: 17-14 Bills