Debating the Toughest Game on the Buffalo Bills' 2012 Schedule

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Debating the Toughest Game on the Buffalo Bills' 2012 Schedule
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Which of these two AFC powerhouses will pose the biggest threat to the Bills this season?

If the Buffalo Bills want to turn the tide on a decade of despondence, they'll need to win more than just the games they should win. They'll have to also get it done against the tougher opponents on their schedule.

But which game promises to be the toughest?

To debate and discuss, we welcome Tim Graham of The Buffalo News, whose work can also be found on Twitter here.

As usual, I'll let the guest lead us off.

 

Tim

This is a great question, Erik. I could go any number of ways here. I wish you'd gone first so I could just say "Yeah, that one." Let me think this through before I settle on a game.

From a point-spread perspective, the Week 10 game at New England looks like the steepest challenge. That historically has been a double-digit spread, and the Bills haven't won a game in Gillette Stadium. That place isn't so new anymore.

I could go with opening day at the Meadowlands. A victory over the New York Jets could launch the Bills to a 3-0 start, with the next two games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns.

Or I could go with Week 6 in Arizona. The Bills will play back-to-back road games against the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals, and that's a nasty task.

It's almost like a curse...
But I'm going to circle back to Foxborough. That game is more than just a win or a loss for Buffalo, it's a psychological hurdle. Buffalo seems to be turning the corner from hoping to win to expecting to win,  and New England is the mountaintop. The Bills could have swept the Patriots last season, winning in Orchard Park and then jumping to a 21-0 lead in the rematch, but they fell apart and couldn't close out what could've been a symbolic victory.

 

Erik

The Patriots are an easy choice, and one I agree with. For the sake of argument, though, I'll go with their Week 9 contest at Reliant Stadium against the Houston Texans.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Could the stifling Texans defense be enough to bring down the Bills?
The Bills will be coming off a bye, which will play into their favor a bit. But the front seven will give the Bills offensive line all it can handle. They gave up the second-fewest sacks last year, but the Texans can get pressure from any direction. The Texans don't have the offensive firepower of the Patriots, but they are a well-rounded unit and feature one of the league's best running backs.

The circumstances around some of the other games may make them tougher overall. Consecutive road games make the Patriots and Cardinals contests difficult, but there is hope for Bills fans. After Week 10's contest against the Patriots, there are a lot of cupcakes. If the Bills can make it out of the early gauntlet alive, they could still have a solid shot at making the playoffs.

 

Tim

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Gillette Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Bills.
I agree with what you suggested before: All the games will be big for a team that has a slim margin for error. But the Bills can move on from a non-divisional road loss. As for any advantage of having a bye and trying to capitalize on the extra prep time for a victory before rolling into Foxborough, the Texans will be coming off their bye, too. The AFC East still goes through New England, and the Bills will need to make a statement there.

 

Erik

We definitely agree that between the Patriots and Texans, obviously the game in New England bears a bigger impact on their ability to make a statement in the division and improve their standings toward a playoff spot.

Which game will be the toughest on the Bills schedule?

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In the Texans, however, I believe the Bills have a much more complete opponent. The Patriots field one of the league's best offenses, but they aren't as well-rounded on both sides of the ball.

Thanks for joining me in the debate, Tim. Hopefully we link up again soon.

What do you think? Who got it right? Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates.

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