Is what we saw in Week 1 a predictor for what's to come for the Bills this season? Bills analysts John Murphy and Chris Brown share their opinions in this week's edition of Fact or Fiction.
LeSean McCoy will produce 450 touches this season …McCoy posted 27 touches on Sunday
John Murphy: Fiction: That's an awful lot of touches. If Shady winds up with 450 touches at the end of the season, that would be a 23% increase over his previous high workload--he had 366 carries and receptions four years ago. Last year, the Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott lead the league with 21.5 touches per game. So at age 29, it's probably unrealistic to think McCoy could survive that kind of a workload.
Chris Brown: Fiction: While I do believe that his total touches in 2017 will eclipse his total of 284 from last year, I don't see him being much higher than 350 touches this season. That would put him at right around 22 touches per game, which I think is a realistic workload for McCoy.
The Bills will lead the NFL in rushing … again …Buffalo leads the league after Week 1 with 190 yards
Murph: Fact: Why not? They've got the same cast of characters in place that helped pace the NFL's best rushing attack the last two seasons. And the early evidence indicates that McCoy and backup RB Mike Tolbert are perfectly comfortable behind Buffalo's new zone blocking scheme.
CB:Fact: Buffalo will have a good look at the league rushing title again for a couple of reasons. First and foremost the offensive line is the same group that has led the NFL in rushing and yards per carry average the last two years. Second, the new run scheme is an ideal fit for a back like LeSean McCoy, and third Tyrod Taylor's running ability only pads the team's rushing total each week.
Ramon Humber will lead the team in tackles …Humber had a career-high 13 tackles on Sunday
Murph: Fiction: Humber was all over the field Sunday, and it's clear he has a firm grasp on the Will LB position. But I look for Preston Brown to lead the team in tackles when it's all said and done. I expect most Bills opponents will strike a better run/pass balance than the Jets did last Sunday (39 pass attempts, only 15 runs). If that's the case, look for Brown, the man in the middle, to rack up most of the tackle stats.
CB: Fiction: Humber's straight line speed is probably the best of the three starting linebackers. That should enable him to get to the ball first on a lot of plays in a defense that emphasizes swarming to the football
Charles Clay will lead the Bills in receptions for the second consecutive season …Clay led the team with 57 receptions last season and was targeted nine times in Week 1
Murph:Fact:* *With four catches and nine targets against the Jets, it's clear Clay figures to play an even more prominent role in the Bills passing attack this season. He said as much in an appearance on our show last week, and he's dropped 8-10 pounds in weight in expectation of being a bigger downfield threat. Last year, Clay averaged 9.7 yards per reception. This year, with what appears to be a new emphasis on working the middle of the field in the passing game, and using Clay (and fellow tight end Nick O'Leary) crossing over the middle, I'm thinking Clay might approach the 14.6 yards per catch average he put up in his rookie year in Miami six years ago.
CB:Fact: I thought this would be the case before the season even started. It's clear that he and Tyrod Taylor have a rapport with one another in the passing game, perhaps the best on field chemistry on the team. He had the most targets on the team last year (87). Now in coach Dennison's offensive scheme, which stresses the tight end in the pass game, Clay could have an even more productive season when it comes to receptions. It wouldn't surprise me if he flirts with a 65 to 70-catch season.
The Bills and the Jaguars are on a crash course for the AFC Championship game … *Both teams produced decisive wins in Week 1*
Murph: Fiction: Let's pump the brakes on this one for now. But it's fun to dream about Doug Marrone and the Jags coming to Orchard Park in January with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
CB:Fiction: Can I copyright 'The Marrone Bowl' now? In all seriousness we've got to take Buffalo's win in Week 1 for what it is. It's a quality division win against an opponent the Bills were expected to beat. The Jaguars did kind of the same thing using a ground game and strong defense to beat a division opponent that doesn't have a quarterback that's ready to win. Week 2 will be a different story for the Bills, who are on the road in Carolina and for Jacksonville, who face a Titans team that is not happy after a loss to Oakland at home.
The passing offense will improve 15 spots …Bills finished 2016 No. 30 and rank No. 15 after Week 1
Murph: Fiction – but maybe: That would be a significant jump, but it could happen. Once the Bills got a nine-point lead over the Jets last Sunday, they put their passing game on the shelf, running it 12 times and throwing just twice until the final kneel-downs. That kind of imbalance is not likely to continue through the season. The Bills are probably going to average more than the 28 pass attempts they had on Sunday. More significantly, look for Buffalo to attack more downfield in the weeks ahead than they did against New York. Of Tyrod Taylor's 27 pass targets, only eight of them were directed at his wide receivers in the Jets game. That figure will grow once Taylor and his new corps of wideouts get more familiar with each other. And once that happens, the Bills would no doubt love to have a balanced offense with a passing attack in the top half of the league.
CB:Fiction: As encouraged as I was by how well the Bills spread the ball around, I don't see a jump like this come season's end. The main reason is Buffalo doesn't have a deep passing game right now. And though one could develop come the second half of the season, that lack of big plays (40 yards plus) will hurt their ranking, which is based on total passing yards. Add in the fact that they are likely to run more than they pass and the numbers just won't be there.
Will LeSean McCoy break out the Simba touchdown celebrations this season?
Murph: Fact: He probably will, but I'm more interested in following Mike Tolbert's repertoire of touchdown dances. He got off to a good start Sunday, and based on his previous body of work, there's much more to come from the Toll-Dozer. You have to believe he's got some special moves planned should he hit the end zone Sunday in his homecoming game in Carolina.
CB:Fiction: He seemed to like the football as Simba touchdown idea, but McCoy is going to have to convince a bunch of teammates to bow to the football to complete the scene. Shady is a good negotiator, but I don't know if he's going to be able to pull that one off.