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The NFL released the 2007 schedule today, and I grabbed it as soon as it was posted to BuffaloBills.com. (Nice job, website guys!) I, like many Bills fans, was quite eager to see when we were playing and where, and which games were on national television, etc.
What I saw was intriguing. It was very nice to see that indeed we will be playing on Monday night this season. An event from which the Bills have been omitted for six seasons. The game against Dallas is a home game, which is even more rare. We have not been on MNF at home since 1994!
A few things stand out. Our first three games are against recent Super Bowl champs. (Recent being used quite elastically there…) We open against Denver, then we have back to back road games against Pittsburgh and New England. Granted, these teams are not what they used to be (some might argue that NE, possibly Denver, are much improved through free agency). However, at first glance, the names strike at least a little fear in the hearts of Bills fans.
Following that apparently tough start, the Bills have a stretch of three straight home games. Those include the previously mentioned Monday Night affair, as well as the most anticipated home game of the 2007 season – the return of Willis McGahee to The Ralph. We also play the NY Jets in that stretch.
What I see at the start of the season is teams who have been tough in the past, who may or may not be that tough in 2007. Assuming LOTS of things (Bills finding another RB in the draft or trades, at least one more LB, maybe a WR, and the other teams playing at least similarly to how they did in 2006…) the Bills could pretty easily go 4-2 in the first six games. Going 2-1 to start, and then 2-1 in the three home game stretch.
Of course, all such predicting is somewhat ludicrous. We have no idea what this team, or any other team is going to look like in 2007. We’re just too far away from actual football!
It’s fun to predict, and I’d have to say at first glance, we start out 4-2, maybe lose to the Jets, and probably one or two more… maybe climb to 7-4 or even 8-4. But in the end, we have no way of knowing that. My gut feeling is that this year we will see another team around .500 (7-9 to maybe 10-6). But so much could change before we get there.
One interesting thing about this schedule was the positioning of two of the four NFC games at the very end of the schedule. Non-conference games are much less important in determining playoff teams. Division, then conference records matter much more. So, it just seemed odd that we would finish the season with games against the NY Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles. So, if the Bills are in the hunt, (you never know!) those games might not be that important?
Also, as we all know, in addition to facing Willis here in Buffalo, the Bills will also face former 2006 teammates in Washington on Dec 2nd, and then to end the season on Dec 30th.
And one final (good) thing about the schedule is that instead of 4 of our last 6 games being at The Ralph (where it was hard to sell out at such a time of year in 2006) this season the Bills will have 4 of their final 6 games on the road. We do get to play Miami at home in December, though. That’s always a good thing!
Overall, though the opponents seem daunting, I think it’s a fairly entertaining schedule. The Bills (assuming we fill in a bit more in the draft) will be competitive in every game on that list. Every one. We obviously won’t win every one, but there isn’t a team on there that they can’t hang with.
I can’t wait! Bring on Bills Football!!!!