Every summer leading up to training camp Buffalobills.com asks 25 of the most pressing questions facing the team as they make their final preparations for the upcoming regular season. This year we want your opinion on what the most likely answers to these questions will be. After reading each daily installment as the Bills get set for Year 1 under head coach Doug Marrone, go to the Bills daily fan poll leading up to report day at training camp and vote. You could be eligible to win tickets to night practice. Here is the latest daily installment as we closely examine some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 28th and the Sept. 8th home opener.
It's well known that the won-loss record for the Bills each of the past 13 seasons has not been good enough to qualify for the postseason. There have been a host of reasons why Buffalo has been unable to stack wins with regularity. One of the main stumbling blocks has been the club's struggle against the teams they face most often.
Against their division opponents over the last 13 seasons the Bills have compiled a combined record of 25-57. That's a winning percentage of just over 30 percent (.304). That win percentage is almost 15 percent lower than their success rate against their non-division opponents over that span (.452).
Can Doug Marrone and his staff lift the Bills to a winning record in the division?
"I was in the AFC East before I went to New Orleans and I think those challenges are still there for all of us," said Marrone referencing his four seasons as the Jets' offensive line coach. "I think it'll be a great challenge and challenges also create great opportunities. To compete against good football teams is just one of the things we have to do. Part of what we do is competing against them."
It's no secret that the last five seasons in particular have been one of tougher stretches against division opponents for the Bills. Buffalo has posted no more than two division victories in any season from 2008-2012, and that was only accomplished twice over that period of time (2009, 2012). The Bills went winless in the division in 2008 and had 1-5 division records in 2010 and 2011.
Obviously their lack of success against New England is a big part of the struggles with just three wins against the Patriots in the 26 meetings stretching back to the 2000 season. But against the Jets (10-16) and the Dolphins (12-14) the Bills also have sub-.500 records. In 2000 and 2001, when the Colts were still in the AFC East, Buffalo went 0-4 against Indianapolis.
"That's a focus for us," said Fred Jackson of improving their success against division opponents. "We can't lose division games and expect to do the things we want to get done. Every year it's a huge test, we know that, but we feel like we can play with these teams. We've just got to finish games. Hopefully we can get that done."
The Bills went 2-4 in the division last season with home wins over Miami and the Jets. Most prognosticators believe the Dolphins have improved, but the Patriots and Jets have had trying offseasons in terms of subtractions from their rosters. So a .500 division record or perhaps a win above that doesn't appear out of the realm of possibility.
Marrone entering his first year as head coach, however, is more focused on getting his own team ready for the season.
"For me the concentration is more on our football team," Marrone told Buffalobills.com. "Have we looked at New York, New England and Miami? We have, but more from a standpoint of schematics. We're trying to develop our football team and do the best job we can with the Buffalo Bills and worry about those teams when we play them. We're trying to still put together the best team we can to give us the best ability to win."