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Raiders to open Bills' home schedule; No prime-time games; Eagles game is here

Coming off a 4-12 season, the Buffalo Bills are hardly ready for prime time.

The NFL schedule makers apparently agree as the Bills' 2011 slate does not include any night games. The team also got shut out a year ago, after a 6-10 record in 2009.

At least all 16 of the Bills' games won't kick off at 1 p.m. like last season. This year's schedule features a pair of 4 p.m. games -- Week Eight against the Washington Redskins in Toronto and Week 14 at San Diego. The Bills also have a Saturday home game against the Denver Broncos on Christmas Eve.

A Toronto radio station had reported the Bills would meet the Philadelphia Eagles in their fourth regular-season game at the Rogers Centre. Instead, the Eagles come to Ralph Wilson Stadium in Week Five for what figures to be the Bills' marquee non-division game with Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick as the star attraction. He put on a dazzling show during his last appearance in Buffalo as a member of the Atlanta Falcons in 2005.

The Bills will open the season Sept. 11 on the road at the Kansas City Chiefs. This is the fourth consecutive trip to Arrowhead Stadium for the Bills, who lost in overtime there last year after winning the previous two visits decisively.

The Oakland Raiders come to town for the Bills' home opener in Week Two. That is the first of three home games in four weeks. Among the visitors are the New England Patriots, who bring a 15-game winning streak over the Bills to The Ralph on Sept. 25.

In a scheduling quirk, the Bills play only one AFC East opponent in the first eight weeks. They faced all three division rivals in the first four weeks last season. This year, five of the Bills' last nine games are within the division.

They meet the New York Jets twice in a 21-day span -- Week Nine at Buffalo and Week 12 at Meadowlands Stadium. The Bills visit Miami on Week 11 and host the Dolphins on Week 15. Buffalo closes the regular season at New England on New Year's Day.

Bills fans often complain about the difficulty of the team's schedule. Well, they won't like this one very much either.

The Bills' slate is the NFL's second-toughest based on their opponents' 2010 record (137-119). It should be noted that included in those games are two each against the Patriots, who were 14-2, and Jets, who went 11-5. The Chiefs and Eagles were 10-win teams last season.

The Bills will have only one game against a team with a losing record (at the Cincinnati Bengals in Week Four) going into their Week Seven bye. However, only three of those opponents (Kansas City, New England and Philadelphia) went to the playoffs last season.

The most manageable part of the Bills' schedule comes toward the end when they have three home games against winnable opponents (Tennessee, Miami and Denver) between Weeks 13 and 16.

But the Bills will have to survive a rough early stretch. October features three contests against teams in the rugged NFC East, including a Week Six trip to the Meadowlands to play the New York Giants.

The most daunting part of the Bills' schedule arrives shortly after midseason when they have three straight road games and four in a five-week span, beginning in Week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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>Buffalo Bills 2011 schedule

Sept. 11: @ Kansas City, 1 p.m.

Sept. 18: Oakland, 1 p.m.

Sept. 25: New England, 1 p.m.

Oct. 2: @ Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Oct. 9: Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Oct. 16: @ N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m.

Oct. 23: BYE

Oct. 30: * Washington, 4 p.m.

Nov. 6: N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.

Nov. 13: @ Dallas, 1 p.m.

Nov. 20: @ Miami, 1 p.m.

Nov. 27: @ N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.

Dec. 4: Tennessee, 1 p.m.

Dec. 11: @ San Diego, 4:15 p.m.

Dec. 18: Miami, 1 p.m.

Dec. 24: Denver, 1 p.m.

Jan. 1: @ New England, 1 p.m.

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