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This is the first of a three-part series on the Bills' salary cap as the team prepares for the NFL free agency period. The Buffalo Bills will enter the 2018 free-agent shopping season in better salary-cap shape than in the past two years. They're still a long way from where Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott want to be in the cap department because they lead the NFL in…

Bills

The Buffalo Bills have the sixth-most draft-pick capital in the NFL heading into the 2018 draft. That's the Bills' quantifiable ranking if you apply the Jimmy Johnson trade-value chart to all of Buffalo's eight picks. The Cleveland Browns have by far the most draft capital, with two firsts, three seconds and 12 picks overall. The website Tankathon.com added up all th…

Bills

The Philadelphia Eagles' use of run-pass option plays was one of the storylines of their Super Bowl-winning season. It was not a storyline of the Buffalo Bills' 2017 season. The Eagles ranked No. 1 in the NFL regular season by using RPOs on 181 plays (17 percent), according to Pro Football Focus. The Bills called only 20 RPOs, which amounted to 2 percent of their …

Bills

Super Bowl Play to Watch: Read zone with bubble screen The Eagles have used run-pass option plays to simplify the game for quarterback Nick Foles and get him in rhythm. Much of the RPO attention goes to the screens, quick slants and quick outs Foles completes. But the run element will be key against the Patriots, who are stout when teams try to play smash-mouth. When th…

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Tom Brady vs. Jim Schwartz Philadelphia's defensive chief is not a blitzing coordinator. He relies on the four-man rush, as he did in Buffalo in 2014. The front four must get Tom Brady off his spot. Schwartz has flexibility. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry all can play end or tackle on third down. Look for the Pats to use two TEs to keep Schwartz from movin…

Bills

The big trade of quarterback Alex Smith to Washington Tuesday night should be viewed as good news for Bills fans. It's good because the Bills did not pull the trigger on a guy who's a better version of Tyrod Taylor but who clearly is not "The Answer." Smith is a good quarterback. He's 50-26 the past five years for Kansas City. Wow. But talk about a QB-friendly situat…

Bills

It was common to see Dion Dawkins a long way from his left tackle position when the whistle blew on running plays this season. When the Buffalo Bills rookie got leverage on a defender, he pressed it down the line, toward the sideline or however far he could take it. "My coach preached finishing at Temple, but I always had the extra oomph," Dawkins said late in the Bi…

Bills

Brian Daboll's coaching history suggests he will know what to do with a franchise-caliber quarterbacking talent, should the Buffalo Bills acquire one. The new Bills' offensive coordinator was part of the gold-standard NFL passing offense in his most recent stint as a New England Patriots assistant from 2013 to 2016. That makes him well-versed in the precision, possessio…

Bills

The Buffalo Bills' passing offense was not quite as bad in 2017 as it was during the J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards eras. That's the most upbeat spin we can come up with in assessing the Bills' ability to throw the ball this year. It's remarkable the Bills made the playoffs in spite of the pass offense, given some ignominious lows it hit, such as: The Bills 176.6…

Bills

The Buffalo Bills enjoyed relatively good health on their way to their first playoff season of the millennium. The Bills lost a combined total of 39 games by starters to injuries in 2017. That ranked tied for ninth fewest in the NFL, according to roster analysis by The News. The league average was 54 games by starters lost to injury. It's good to be healthy. Each of …

Bills

Bills D-line vs. Jags O-line It was one of the finest performances of the season by the Buffalo Bills' defensive line. Leonard Fournette was held to 51 yards on 21 carries, a mere 2.7-yard average. The Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive line is massive. A big worry was whether it would bully the Bills between the tackles (as the New Orleans Saints did in midseason). But…

Bills

The Buffalo Bills had five possessions in the second half and could not get into scoring position once. That was the reason for their 10-3 playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tyrod Taylor's limitations at quarterback were on display on the Bills' best second-half scoring chance, and that leads our 10 plays that shaped the game. 1. QB shortcomings. The Bills …

Bills

Matchup Watch: Bills at Jaguars Bortles vs. Bills' safeties The Bills need to goad the Jaguars' quarterback into some mistakes. He threw 13 interceptions this season, ranking 19th in INT percentage. He threw five picks in the last two games. Under pressure last week against the Titans, he was 1 of 11 with two picks, according to Pro Football Focus. The Bills disguise…

Bills

Play to Watch: Jaguars' Power O Will the Jaguars stick with the run game or get pass happy against the Bills? Jags back Leonard Fournette is not 100 percent due to a sore ankle that has hindered him since Week 6. But the Jags have the ability to power up and play physical. Seven of Fournette's 14 longest runs have come from "heavy personnel," with extra tight ends and o…

Bills

The matchup of the Jacksonville Jaguars' defense vs. the Buffalo Bills' offense is a mismatch on the order of 51-3. Raise the white flag. The Bills have the No. 31 passing offense in the NFL. The Jaguars are No. 1 in passing yards allowed, No. 1 in sacks, No. 1 in opposing quarterback rating and No. 2 in interceptions. How do you put an optimistic spin on it? Maybe t…