As a reward for one of the worst seasons in franchise history, one that saw them lose 12 games and come up short to many teams in the closing moments, schedule makers have given the Bills an even tougher assignment this year. Currently they have the second toughest schedule in all of the NFL, only to be outdone by the woeful Carolina Panthers, who are also undergoing a tough stretch.
While it could be a blessing in disguise to beat down the league's weaker teams, allowing them consecutive years of top picks in the draft to build from, it also can drain fans who long for their teams to find success. Despite this challenging schedule there are reasons for hope.
This year the Bills will face four teams that have a different head coach than they did at the start of 2010—in Week 2 vs Oakland, Week 10 at Dallas, Week 13 vs Tennessee and week 16 vs Denver. Aside from facing these newbies the Bills will have four opponents that they should be very competitive against: Cincinnati (Week 4), Washington (Week 8), Tennessee (Week 13) and Denver (Week 16).
There is also some bad news. This season the Bills have six contests where they are matched against 2010 playoff teams, and four of those are against division heavyweights New York (Weeks 9 and 12) and New England (Weeks 3 and 17). They also travel to Kansas City in Week 1 and then the Eagles stop by for a visit in Week 5.
How Will The Bills Finish The 2011 Season
Best case scenario: Bills win in Week 1 at Kansas City, Week 4 at Cincinnati, Week 8 vs Washington, Week 9 vs New York Jets, Week 11 at Miami, Week 13 vs Tennessee, Week 15 vs Miami and Week 16 vs Denver.
Final record: 8-8.
This kind of effort would double the Bills win total from a year ago and give them a mid-first round draft pick, likely pushing them out of contention for a franchise QB if they fail to draft one this year.
Worst case scenario: Bills win in Week 4 at Cincinnati, Week 8 vs Washington, Week 13 vs Tennessee and Week 16 vs Denver.
Final record: 4-12
While this record would show a lack of improvement from last year in win totals, it could put the Bills in position to make a run at either Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley. For a more comprehensive look at the Bills schedule visit, Dan Van Wie's Column.