There is a reason why most pundits have selected the Buffalo Bills as the favorite to win the Super Bowl. With quarterback Josh Allen and one of the NFL’s top defenses, this team is poised to earn its first Lombardi Trophy. However, the Bills must overcome some roadblocks to secure their first Super Bowl win.
One of the more daunting roadblocks for the Buffalo Bills is their schedule. After getting a bit of a break in 2021, the Bills have the 12th toughest schedule in the NFL for 2022. The Bills opponents in 2022 posted a collective record of 147-140-2 in 2021, good for a .512 winning percentage. They will have a tough road slate, in particular, as they will have to travel to face the Ravens, Bengals, Chiefs, and the Rams on opening night, all of whom figure to be among the best teams in the NFL in 2022. The NFL schedule makers also assigned the Bills to play four of their first six games on the road.
For their crossover games, the Bills are matched up against the four teams in the AFC North, a division that might be the second-best in the AFC behind only the AFC West. This means they will face last year’s AFC representative to the Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Bengals, led by Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. The Ravens return several key players from injury and have former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson at quarterback. Both of these games will be on the road.
The good news is that their other crossover contests will come from the NFC North. The Bills at least get to play the Packers at home, while games against the Vikings, Lions, and Bears all feel like very winnable matchups. The Bills will also get another game on Thanksgiving, heading to Detroit to play in the annual contest.
This area is a roadblock for the Bills and every other team in the NFL. There is very little a team can do to prevent injuries in a sport such as football, but one has to hope that there are very few significant injuries to Buffalo’s key players in 2022.
One of the key injuries that have carried over from 2021 is the knee injury to Tre’Davious White, who is out for at least the first four games after being placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List. White suffered his torn ACL in last season’s Thanksgiving day game at New Orleans. White now has to miss the first four games per PUP rules but will likely miss possibly five or six games as he will not be allowed to practice with the team. Until he returns, top draft pick Kaiir Elam will be the starter in Los Angeles opposite Dane Jackson at boundary cornerback, but don’t be surprised if fellow rookie Christian Benford shares that role.
The good news for the secondary is that it appears safety Jordan Poyer is trending in the right direction to play in the opener on Thursday. In early August, the first-team All-Pro suffered a hyperextended elbow, causing him to miss much of training camp and the entire preseason slate of games. It is also good news that the team had no other significant injuries.
At least during training camp, the Buffalo Bills are saying all of the right things about the disastrous finish to last season’s playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It will not be easy to erase the painful memory of two passes Patrick Mahomes completed to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce against the Bills’ way-too-soft coverage that positioned the Chiefs for a game-tying field goal that forced overtime.
“Everybody wants to talk about (13 seconds), and it is what it is, it happened, there’s no going back,” Allen said before the preseason. “We’ve completely turned our focus towards this next season and trying to figure out how do we take that next step. How do we win that Super Bowl?”
It will probably not be an issue during the regular season. Assuming the Bills do make it to the playoffs, the media and other distractors will probably resurrect the story for the Bills to deal with again.
This and other things the Bills must guard against, such as paying too much attention to what is being said about them. Almost everywhere you turn, they are considered the best team in the league and the betting favorite to win it all. Now all the Bills have to do is push these roadblocks aside as they make an attempt in February of 2021 to hoist their first Super Bowl trophy.