The Buffalo Bills are no strangers to pressure. Historically, they’ve faced plenty of it. Whether it was in the shape of four consecutive trips to the Super Bowl, an interminable playoff drought, or being Super Bowl favorites like this season, it’s nothing new for them.
As such favorites, though, expectations are sky-high for the Bills. Josh Allen is an MVP favorite, they’re poised to walk away with the AFC East title, and they have one of the most complete rosters in the league.
But are they built for dealing with that pressure?
As far as what’s within their control, there’s no reason to doubt they will meet every expectation. It’s the outside circumstances that could result in a tougher path to the Big Game for Buffalo.
Betting expert and NFL analyst Warren Sharp touched on this very topic on social media. A well-known bettor of teams’ win totals, Sharp confided that he won’t be betting on the Bills’ over/under for 11.5 wins just yet.
The reason why?
The difference between the Bills’ 2021 schedule difficulty versus this year’s.
speaking truth about the Bills last year:— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) July 31, 2022
played the #1 easiest schedule
faced just 6 teams that made the playoffs (2nd fewest) & won only 2 of 6
won just 4 of 10 games when not winning the turnover battle
and now have the 2nd largest increase in schedule difficult this year pic.twitter.com/ORD9zrcyHA
Those are some impressive numbers. Facing the second largest increase in schedule difficulty won’t be easy for Buffalo. It wouldn’t be for any other team, either.
They will have to play better versions of the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. They’ll also be forced to survive tough stretches midseason.
The Bills even draw the L.A. Rams and the Green Bay Packers out of the NFC (two of the three conference favorites).
But it’s not all bad news from Sharp to the Bills. He points out their 0-5 record in one-score games, one of the most volatile stats in the sport. And well, they’re kings of the East! They have dominated their division for the last two years.
on the positive: they absolutely won't go 0-5 in one-score games again like last year— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) July 31, 2022
the Bills are 11-1 vs the AFC East the last 2 years
that's the BEST IN-DIVISION RECORD in the NFL
if they don't sweep the Pats & Dolphins this year do the Bills get to 12 wins? pic.twitter.com/CzXKeAbfkZ
But there’s no question about this: The slightest slump could be lethal in the AFC this season.
It’s a conference loaded with killer teams. There are three legit Super Bowl contenders in the AFC West and another three in the AFC North.
As usual, playoff seeding will be crucial for postseason success. In 2022, that importance will be exponentiated.
“They have to make some improvements if they want to win the Super Bowl this season,” concludes Sharp in his one-minute clip.
It’s complicated to disagree.
Featured image via Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports