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Buffalo Bills 2012 Schedule Analysis


Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.

Buffalo Bills 2012 Schedule:

Week 1: at New York Jets
Week 2: Kansas City
Week 3: at Cleveland
Week 4: New England
Week 5: at San Francisco
Week 6: at Arizona
Week 7: Tennessee
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: at Houston
Week 10: at New England
Week 11: Miami (Thurs.)
Week 12: at Indianapolis
Week 13: Jacksonville
Week 14: St. Louis
Week 15: Seattle (in Toronto)
Week 16: at Miami
Week 17: New York Jets

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- Buffalo's offseason priority was to beef up its defense, which finished last season ranked 26th in total defense. The Bills addressed that side of the ball through both free agency (Mario Williams, James Anderson) and the draft (first-round CB Stephon Gillmore), and the first four games of the 2012 season — at New York Jets, vs. Kansas City, at Cleveland, vs. New England — should be a good barometer as to how far this defense has come.

- Buffalo was 28th out of 32 teams in rush defense last season and the Bills' first three games of the 2012 season are against three teams that figure to run the ball a lot. First, it's the season opener on the road against the Jets, a team that has said it will return to its "ground and pound" ways of running the ball, followed by hosting Kansas City and then a trip to Cleveland. The Chiefs' backfield will feature both Jamaal Charles, who finished second in the NFL with 1,467 yards rushing in 2010 before tearing his ACL in Week 1 of last year, and former Cleveland Brown Peyton Hillis, who rushed for nearly 1,200 yards in 2010. Then there's this season's version of the Browns, whose backfield now includes 2012 No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson.

- After those three rush-oriented teams, the Bills will see how their new pass rush, highlighted by the additions of Williams and Anderson, and remade secondary fares against Tom Brady and the Patriots' aerial attack. Then it's a trip out west to face San Francisco, the first of Buffalo's four games against the NFC West.

- The Bills also will play all four teams from the AFC South as its AFC round-robin opponents this season. They begin that quarter of games by hosting Tennessee at home in Week 7, their last game before their bye week.

- The bye falls at a good time for Buffalo in a couple of respects. First, coming in Week 8, that means that the Bills only have to play nine straight games to close out the season. More importantly, the Bills get a week to prepare for their first two games after the bye — at Houston and home to New England. Besides representing Williams' first game at Reliant Stadium not in a Texans' uniform, the match up with the defending AFC South champs will be another good test for the Bills' revamped defense. This time the task will be to try to slow down Houston's Arian Foster, who has rushed for more than 2,800 yards in the last two seasons combined. Further, if the Bills have any hopes of battling for a playoff spot in 2012, they will more than likely need to beat the Patriots at least once. This game will be at home, which is where Buffalo defeated New England last season in Week 3.

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- Following their Week 10 date with New England, the Bills' schedule eases up quite a bit. Buffalo ends the season with five home games, including the Week 15 match up with Seattle in Toronto, and just two on the road— at Indianapolis in Week 12 and at Miami in Week 16. Besides the Seahawks, the Bills will host the Dolpins on Thursday night in Week 11, as well as the Jaguars and Rams in Weeks 13-14 before ending the regular season against the Jets. If the Bills are able to manage the first nine games of their schedule and capitalize on the latter part, they could be in the thick of the playoff hunt in late December, meaning those final two division games against the Dolphins and Jets could be huge.

Fantasy Focus: The Bills' defense will feature a lot of new faces this season and if the new personnel is able to adapt to coordinator Dave Wannstedt's scheme, it could be a surprise fantasy contributor in 2012. For one, the Bills finished near the bottom of the league in terms of sacks, a number that should improve with the addition of Mario Williams and James Anderson. Also, the Bills' schedule features 10 games against teams whose offensive skill positions (QB, RB, WR, TE) ranked in the lower half of the league in 2011 in fantasy points scored. Jacksonville finished last, followed by St. Louis, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Kansas City. San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, and Arizona also finished in the bottom half. In fact, the only one of Buffalo's 2012 opponents to not rank lower than 12th in terms of fantasy points scored by offensive skill position players last season is New England, who fninshed third overall.

— by Mark Ross, published on June 5, 2012

2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

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AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams