The Buffalo Bills started the 2011 season with a 4-1 record. The team was clicking on all cylinders, had managed to beat the division rival New England Patriots and appeared to be well on their way to becoming a contender.
Despite their hot start however, the Bills faded down the back stretch, losing seven straight games in the process. They finished the season 6-10, tied with the Miami Dolphins for last place in the AFC East.
Now that the 2012 Buffalo Bills schedule has been posted via the team's official Facebook page and the hype surrounding the team is at a new high, let's rank the five biggest matchups heading into the 2012 season.
The first game of the 2012 season will be an important divisional matchup against the New York Jets.
Unfortunately for the new-look Buffalo Bills, they'll have to start the 2012 season on the road.
On the plus side, the Jets are coming off a disappointing season. They were unable to find consistent play from quarterback Mark Sanchez, and bringing in Tim Tebow is sure to create another soap opera heading into the 2012 season.
With all the talk surrounding Sanchez and Tebow in New York, the Bills may be able to pull a fast one on Gang Green and get off to a 1-0 start.
The Bills' hot start last year had a lot to do with beating the New England Patriots early last season.
These two teams ended up splitting their matchups 1-1 after the Pats dismantled the Bills 49-21 in Week 17, but the Bills have managed to hold their own many times against their heated rival.
This is without a doubt a huge statement game for the Bills. If they can manage to beat the Patriots again in 2012, like they did early in 2011, they'll show fans around the league that they're for real.
An interesting player to watch in this matchup will be Bills defensive end Mark Anderson, who recorded 10 sacks for the Pats a season ago. Look for Anderson to try and make a statement against his former team.
The Buffalo Bills will be flying across the country for their matchup against Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers to start their games in the month of October.
The 49ers finished with a great overall record of 13-3 and the play of their quarterback was a big reason why.
The 49ers also have one of the most talented defenses in the NFL. They were the best team in football at stopping the run last year, giving up just 77.3 yards per game on the ground.
It will be interesting to see how Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller perform against the 49ers' extremely talented corps of linebackers that includes Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
The Buffalo Bills should be well rested for this game coming off of their bye week. Look for Mario Williams to make a statement against his former team.
Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin will be a tough matchup for Ryan Fitzpatrick in this one. Fitz will have to look to get rid of the ball quickly before either of those two guys can take him down behind the line of scrimmage.
While this game won't be as important as divisional games against the Patriots and Jets, it will be an intriguing matchup because of the Williams storyline.
The Bills will finish the 2012 season the same way they start it: by facing the New York Jets.
If the Bills win the first meeting, you can be sure the Jets will be out for revenge.
It's highly likely that this game will mean a great deal to the playoff race as the season winds down. If the winner of this game earns a trip to the playoffs, look for this one to get chippy in a hurry.
The Bills arguably have the advantage by being at home for the last game of the season, but if the stakes are high enough, that may not matter.
You can almost guarantee that Rex Ryan and company will be talking smack before the start of this game. I think the Bills would like nothing more than to end the season on a high note by shutting them up.