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News sports writers predict Bills' record in 2019

Vic Carucci

After all of their offseason additions mainly aimed at propping up the offense, it’s hard to see the Buffalo Bills being as poor on that side of the ball as they were last season. Even with all the uncertainty caused by injury, the offensive line should easily show significant improvement. The same goes for the revamped receiving corps, especially with the addition of a highly dependable slot target in Cole Beasley. Tight end also looks better. The defense is at least as strong as it was in 2018, when it ranked among the NFL’s best.

The major question, of course, is how well Josh Allen will perform in his second season. The sense here is that, despite an uneven preseason, he should take some big steps because of the time he has spent working on his throwing mechanics, his greater familiarity with the offense, the better coaching he’s getting from new position coach Ken Dorsey and his upgraded supporting cast. A .500 or worse record just won’t cut it.

Projected record: 9-7.

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Mark Gaughan

Look at the schedule and you see opportunity: Jets, Giants, Bengals, Dolphins (twice), Redskins, Broncos, Ravens. Call it a split with the Jets, and that’s nine wins. The quarterbacks they’re facing are no Murderer’s Row: Eli Manning, Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota, Ryan Fitzpatrick/Josh Rosen (twice), Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott (who’s not elite).

The Bills don’t need a lot of stars and planets to line up to go 8-8. How much better can Allen lift the offense from its No. 30 ranking of last year? Nobody knows for sure. The offense still is one elite weapon (a great tight end, maybe) shy of realistically being a top-12 outfit, presuming Allen develops into a 60% passer.

Projected record: 9-7.

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Jay Skurski

It’s critical for the Bills to get off to a good start. With a stretch of five road games over seven weeks in the second half of the year – including stops in Dallas (on Thanksgiving), Pittsburgh and New England – wins become increasingly hard to find deep into December. Particularly on the offensive line, the Bills have not had much continuity this summer, so it will be a challenge to be up to speed right out of the gate – but that’s why coaches get paid.

The defense, meanwhile, should be ready to go. It’s almost unheard of for a team to bring back 10 starters, but that’s what the Bills did. The lone departure, veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams, was replaced by All-American Ed Oliver with the ninth overall draft pick. There is the potential for this defense to be elite. This isn’t a playoffs-or-bust season, but anything less than being seriously in the postseason race toward the end of the regular season will be a disappointment.

Projected record: 10-6.

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Rachel Lenzi

The Bills have the pieces to be competitive. The addition of Frank Gore, who, at 36, can still crank out a productive year, will help. A defensive line that will regroup after Kyle Williams’ retirement will help, and a strong secondary also will benefit the Bills.

But most of all, the Bills need Allen to be healthy. He’s the hallmark of this team. Allen missed four games with a right elbow sprain in 2018, and while the Bills played four different quarterbacks – a group whose range was anywhere from skilled to unwatchable – a quarterback at 100% and who is surrounded by more skilled receivers can make the difference.

Are the pieces in place, though, to make the Bills into a playoff contender? The AFC East typically turns into a one-horse race led by New England. Everyone else simply jockeys for position behind the Patriots. The Bills will be somewhere in the pack, but don’t expect them to sprint to the finish line with the back of the schedule heavily loaded with road games.

Projected record: 7-9.

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Jason Wolf

I’ve been saying for some time – slightly tongue in cheek – that there’s going to be an awful lot of upset Bills fans when this team matches last year’s 6-10 record. Yes, the Bills are a better team on paper than they were a year ago. But the offensive line is going to remain a problem with four new starters who haven’t taken a single snap together during the preseason. And Allen looks much like the same quarterback we saw as a rookie – terrific mobility and a cannon for an arm, but a penchant for making the same mistakes again and again.

The defense should keep Buffalo in most games, and the offense could tap into what seems like its explosive potential. This is a team that could finish with a winning record. But it’ll take consistency to dethrone the Patriots atop the AFC East.

Projected record: 7-9.

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Milt Northrop

The defense will have to carry the Bills until the offensive line, Josh Allen and his new weapons, Cole Beasley, John Brown, Devin Singletary, T.J. Yeldon and whoever is the tight end get into sync.

Helped by the young studs like Ed Oliver, Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, Tre'Davious White and the safeties, the defense will be something Bills fans can derive some satisfaction from.

The punting game is a question and covering kicks has to be improved over last season.

Still, the Bills are a year away from playoff contention. Unless there is an upset against the Patriots, Eagles, Steelers or Browns, the Bills' best hope is to be near .500.

Projected record: 7-9.

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