Even as Super Bowl favorites, it’s only fair to acknowledge the Buffalo Bills have critical question marks heading into the season. Perhaps the biggest of which lies at offensive line.

How well will they fare in the trenches after an offseason of key additions up front?

It could very well be the biggest thing we haven’t quite figured out about the 2022 Bills. Camp injuries haven’t made it any easier, too. Projected starters Rodger Saffold, Dion Dawkins (personal reasons), Ryan Bates, and Spencer Brown have all missed practice time this summer.

While far from an ideal situation, Mitch Morse has remained optimistic about the situation. It seems as if the entire Bills organization isn’t worried, either.

Even when healthy, though, this unit faces skepticism from many in the NFL. Add ESPN to such a group as their projections aren’t high on Buffalo’s front five.

ESPN ranks the Bills’ offensive line at 17th-best in the NFL

The national media outlet has been proud of its OL evaluation metrics called “pass/run block win rates.” They measure how often a lineman wins his block relative to his blocking snaps.

Recently, ESPN published a projection of how each team would do in the upcoming NFL season. This is how it works:

“We ranked all 32 teams’ lines by combining our predicted pass block win rates (PBWR) and run block win rates (RBWR) for this season, which are based on the past performance of each projected starter — according to Mike Clay — over the past two seasons.” 

Per the study, the Buffalo Bills are projected to finish as the 17th-best unit in the league. Specifically, ESPN is down on the team’s run-blocking, which ranks all the way down at 26th.

Surprisingly, one of the reasons why ESPN is bearish on Buffalo’s O-line is Roger Saffold.

“There is reason to be skeptical of the Bills’ Saffold signing,” writes Seth Walder in the article. “The 34-year-old guard is a former win rate standout, but his metrics have declined significantly in the past couple of seasons.”

The good news is the projection still has the Bills as a Top-12 pass-blocking unit.

The Bills were the most pass-happy team in the NFL last season and while wildly efficient, not being able to run the football cost them several times.

Ultimately, even the best of teams can get punched in the mouth if their offensive line is struggling. Just ask Patrick Mahomes and the KC Chiefs about that time injuries decimated their offensive line and they walked away from the Super Bowl LV with zero touchdowns.

Recently, betting analyst Warren Sharp stated the Bills need to get better if they’re to fulfill the expectations set for this year. If there’s one area they need to look at, it’s this.

Featured image via Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports