The 2007 Buffalo Bills weren't a particularly memorable group. The team didn't have a ton of talent, but fought hard and managed to come up with seven victories, even putting itself in the playoff race until the final weeks of the season.
The 2008 version could be a potential sleeper if the bounces go their way.
The Bills have potential on offense. Second-year starter Trent Edwards, who supplanted the incumbent and maddeningly frustrating J.P. Losman last season, is looking build on a solid effort from 2007. He is poised and cool under pressure, rarely making a bad decision, the same of which cannot be said for Losman.
Marshawn Lynch is back to spearhead the Bills ground game and could potentially join the upper echelon of running backs in the league. Lynch has the total package and just needs a bit of help from his offensive line.
Speaking of the line, the left side appears to be solid for the immediate future with Jason Peters at tackle and Derrick Dockery at the guard spot. The rest of the line is a bit less than stellar on paper, featuring Langston Walker, Brad Butler and Melvin Fowler. This group will need to step up its game if the Bills offense is to take any steps forward from last year.
The receiver position is one of intrigue. Everyone knows about Lee Evans. He's a home run threat every time the ball is snapped.
But who is there to help him?
Josh Reed is inconsistent and doesn't appear to be the answer as he's been given many chances.
Roscoe Parrish is best used as a shifty slot receiver more than anything. The wild card could potentially be Indiana rookie James Hardy. Not particularly fast, Hardy has great size (6'6") and the hands to become a dominant possession/red zone target.
On the defensive side of the ball, the line got much stronger with the addition of former Pro Bowl tackle Marcus Stroud. He joins Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel to make for a pretty formidable line.
Behind them, the linebacking crew is improved from last season thanks to the addition of former Giant Kavika Mitchell. He will certainly help youngsters Angelo Crowell and Paul Posluszny develop.
The secondary could be a question mark. Terrence McGee and Jabari Greer aren't terrible, but they certainly aren't a great starting duo. Top pick Leodis McKlevin could make enough noise to warrant a starting position, although it seems more likely he'll start his career off as a nickel man.
Ko Simpson has the ability to be a top safety, but he has to stay healthy and build upon his solid rookie campaign of 2006. Joining him is stand-out Donte Whitner. Whitner is on the verge of becoming one of the best safeties in the game and is making those who believed he was taken too early think otherwise.
The special teams are led by the NFL's best punter, Brian Moorman, and a solid kicker in Ryan Lindell.
The return game could be potent with McGee and the speedy Parrish fielding kicks, with Parrish having led the NFL in punt return average last year. Hopefully, he can build on his touchdown total (two).
As for the schedule, the Bills can potentially win any game but three—both New England games and a date with the Chargers. The rest are swing games, though I fully believe the Seahawks and Jags will give us an 0-2 start.
Dates with the Dolphins (twice), Jets (twice as well), Raiders, Rams, Cardinals, Chiefs, and 49ers seem very winnable with the most obvious swings being the aforementioned Seahawks and Jags, as well as games with the Broncos and Browns.
9-7 seems highly possible, though the bounces could make the season. Bad bounces galore and this could easily be a 4-12/5-11 season. If the bounces are kind to us, we could be a surprise playoff team at possibly 9-7 or 10-6.
A lot also depends on the offensive line, the ability of a second receiver to step up and take pressure off of Evans, and the continued development of Edwards.
2008 appears to be a year of promise for the Bills. Hopefully, this will be the year that we circle the wagons once again.