The Buffalo Bills’ schedule may be without a primetime slot this year, but the Bills will have the rare chance to play on Thanksgiving.
Buffalo will play at the Dallas Cowboys on the holiday for the first time since 1994, when Jim Kelly set a franchise record for completion percentage.
Buffalo went 6-10 last season and finished third in the AFC East. Playing a third-place schedule the Bills face just four teams that made the playoffs last year.
The schedule features matchups with the NFC East and AFC North along with games against the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos.
Josh Allen will have a combined four games against three of the four other quarterbacks selected in the first round last year, including a Week 10 contest with Baker Mayfield and the new-look Cleveland Browns.
Here’s a look at the schedule with my analysis:
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. at Jets
The Bills snapped a two-game losing streak in the Meadowlands in emphatic fashion las season with a 41-10 blowout in Week 10. Allen and Sam Darnold didn’t play in this game, but backup Matt Barkley and LeSean McCoy had a field day. Buffalo held the Jets to just 199 yards and forced two interceptions with three sacks.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, 1 p.m. at Giants
The ’90s matchups between the two New York teams were always competitive with all five games decided by four points or less. However, since the Bills’ 24-7 win in 2003, the Giants have owned the series, winning the last three, including a 24-10 victory in 2015. Eli Manning threw three touchdowns in that game, but that might be hard to replicate due to Manning’s age and the loss of his best receiver Odell Beckham.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, 1 p.m. vs. Bengals
Buffalo’s home opener will come against a familiar opponent. The Bills and Bengals have grown accustomed to playing each as the two teams have faced off six times since 2010. The Bengals have gone 4-2 in those games and secured a four-point win in 2017. Andy Dalton is 2-0 at New Era Field and it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in first year coach Zac Taylor’s system.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, 1 p.m. vs. Patriots
It’d be hard to blame someone if they don’t recall the last time the Bills beat New England at New Era Field. The last time came in 2011 when the Buffalo defense forced Tom Brady to throw four interceptions in the 34-31 win. The early season matchup will serve as a measuring stick to see just how improved the Bills are. New England cruised to a 25-6 win last season.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, 1 p.m. at Titans
The Bills have faced Tennessee 28 times, the second-most outside of their divisional opponents. The Bills prevailed in an ugly 13-12 win last year as Stephen Hauschka kicked a 46-yard field goal as time expired. Allen only threw for 89 yards, but did complete two passes on the game-winning drive. He and Marcus Mariota will look to have better showings in the rematch in the Music City.
Week 6: Bye
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, 1 p.m. vs. Dolphins
Josh Allen was promising against Miami completing 17 of his 26 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns and he led the team in rushing with 95 yards. Clearly motivated by Kyle Williams playing his last game, the Bills routed Miami 42-17 to close out the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely takeover as the starter after Ryan Tannehill was traded to the Tennessee Titans.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 20, 1 p.m. vs. Eagles
Buffalo and Philadelphia have always played each other tight. The overall series is 7-6 in favor of the Eagles, but each team has scored a combined 245 points in 13 games. The 2017 Super Bowl champions reached the playoffs by winning five of their last six games, but Nick Foles was the starter in three of those. With Foles in Jacksonville, the pressure is on Wentz to sustain the team’s winning ways.
Week 9: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1 p.m. vs. Redskins
It’s the first time the Bills are hosting Washington since 2011 and this is a series that has favored Buffalo. The Redskins won 35-25 in 2015, but that snapped the Bills’ six-game winning streak dating back to 1993. Who lines up under center for Washington will be the biggest question as those in the Redskins organization think Alex Smith could miss the 2019 season after a gruesome leg injury in November.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, 1 p.m. at Browns
Another measuring stick game for Allen against the 2018 No. 1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield. The Browns went all in on winning this year as they traded for Odell Beckham and signed former Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt, despite the fact he’ll serve an eight-game suspension. There are big personalities on the Browns. Can first-year coach Freddie Kitchens handle all of that? Will the Buffalo defense be able to contain what should be one of the best offenses in the league?
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, 1 p.m. at Miami
The Bills’ trip to Miami Gardens last season was the perfect description of their season. There were flashes of brilliance like Allen throwing for 231 and rushing for another 135 while the defense held Miami to just 175 total yards. However, there was more frustration as Bills couldn’t seal the deal. The Dolphins used to two crucial penalties to score on the game-winning drive. Allen’s pass to a wide-open Charles Clay in the endzone fell just short on fourth down.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, 1 p.m. vs. Broncos
The Bills defeated Denver 26-16 the last time the Broncos visited Orchard Park as the defense harassed Trevor Siemian into two interceptions while sacking him three times. Denver picked up Joe Flacco in the offseason after an underwhelming starting tenure by Case Keenum. The Bills own the advantage in this series with a 21-16-1 record.
Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 28, 4:30 p.m. at Cowboys
Aside from New England, the Cowboys are one of the Bills’ marquee opponents this season. Buffalo hasn’t played on Thanksgiving since 1994 and should relish the opportunity. It’s been four years since the two teams last played and Buffalo won 16-6 over a Dallas team that finished 4-12. With a tough defense and Ezekiel Elliot, the 2019 edition of this game could also be low scoring.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, 1 p.m. vs. Ravens
A battle between the two most polarizing quarterback prospects from 2018 and a chance for payback for the Bills who fell 47-3 in last year’s season opener. Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen both were able to get on the field and gain experience during last year’s game. Now they’ll both be starting after exceeding expectations in their rookie years.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 8, 1 p.m. at Steelers
2018 was a tumultuous year for Pittsburgh as star running back Le’Veon Bell sat out the season and Antonio Brown didn’t show up for the Steelers’ season finale. Brown and Bell are gone and Pittsburgh will have plenty of motivation to reach the playoffs. The Bills have lost their last six games to the Steelers dating back to 2001.
Week 16: Dec. 21 or 22, at New England
Gilette Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Bills since it opened in 2002. The Bills are just 2-15 there. The two wins came while Tom Brady served a suspension in 2016 and in 2014 when played just one half. Rob Gronkowski has retired, so maybe that will improve Buffalo’s chance of earning a rare win.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m. vs Jets
New York and Sam Darnold got payback after the Bills routed the Jets in the Meadowlands in Week 10. Allen rushed for a touchdown and 101 yards, but he tossed two interceptions and was sacked three times in the 27-23 setback. Darnold threw for a touchdown and went 16-of-24.
More: Buffalo Bills 2019 schedule released: Full listing of dates, times, TV, opponents