1. Football Outsiders projects the Bills will have a top three defense this season
Football Outsiders did a deep dive into all 32 NFL teams' trends over the last 10 years. Trends were found by looking at a cornucopia of data and stats from each team. The info is presented via an offensive and defensive DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average).
DVOA measures how efficient offenses are at producing yards and points, with zero representing league average in each year. Since better defenses are preventing yards and points, defensive DVOA is better when it is negative, not positive. You can read more about how DVOA works here.
On defense, Football Outsiders revealed the Bills have ranked as high as No. 2 twice in the last 10 years and ranked in the top 10 four times.
2010 – DVOA: 6.8%, Rank: 28
2011 – DVOA: 8.3%, Rank: 24
2012 – DVOA: 10.6%, Rank: 27
2013 – DVOA: - 13.8%, Rank: 4
2014 – DVOA: - 15.5%, Rank: 2
2015 – DVOA: 8.6%, Rank: 24
2016 – DVOA: 7.8%, Rank: 27
2017 – DVOA: 1.7%, Rank: 15
2018 – DVOA: - 14.5%, Rank 2
2019 – DVOA: - 11.5%, Rank: 6
Defense: The Bills bounced around on defense all decade, but at least they stayed good or bad for more than a year at a time. There are two good defenses here. The first is the 2013-2-14 defense with the stellar defensive line of Marcell Dareus, Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams, plus a secondary led by Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. That defense collapsed in 2015 with the arrival of Rex Ryan, which is not what's supposed to happen to your defense when Rex Ryan arrives. The second good defense is the current one. Things got better with the arrival of head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in 2017, then it jumped into the top five the year after. This defense features All-Pro cornerback Tre'Davious White, safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, and young linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Hughes is still around to rush the passer as well.
Defensive outlook for 2020: The Bills had an excellent defense in 2019 without depending heavily on turnovers, meaning there will likely be less regression than you see from most strong defenses. Football Outsiders projects Buffalo to have a top-three defense again in 2020.
2. Why Buffalo has the brightest future in the AFC East
In a mailbag column, SI.com’s Albert Breer was asked what team in the AFC East has the brightest future. Breer thinks it's the Bills for many reasons, one being their young defense.
The Bills have an off-the-charts 25-and-under core on defense, with defensive tackle Ed Oliver (22), linebackers Tremaine Edmunds (22) and Matt Milano (25), and corner Tre'Davious White (22) in the middle of it. I'm not sure anyone in the NFL can say they've got a young defensive nucleus like that to build around.
Breer also thinks Buffalo's coaching staff is set up best for future success.
Coach Sean McDermott is now second in the division in playoff appearances, with two in his three years as head coach, and he's achieved a good level of synergy with Leslie Frazier as DC and Brian Daboll as OC. Take that into the front office, and GM Brandon Beane has a strong group with respected execs Joe Schoen, Dan Morgan and Brian Gaine in the fold. And how well the ex-Panther staffmates McDermott and Beane work together is obvious.
Lastly, we've all read this before, but Breer thinks Allen has a lot of weapons around him in year three.
They've given Allen a great shot, with consistent investment in the offensive line, and a skill group that now boasts both proven talent (Diggs, Brown, Morse) and young guys with considerable upside (Devin Singletary, Dawson Knox, Zack Moss).
3. Who will be the Bills MVP in 2020?
Around the NFL writer Dan Hanzus released an article identifying each AFC team’s MVP of the 2020 season. Cue the drum roll…Hanzus thinks Josh Allen will be Buffalo's MVP this season.
The Bills are poised to take the AFC East over from the Patriots, but so much comes down to Allen. Is he a versatile playmaker just starting to scratch the surface of his potential? Or do we already know the deal: that he's an up-and-down performer whose issues with throwing accuracy and ball security will keep him in the middle class of the league's starting quarterbacks? The Bills certainly believe in Allen, and the decision to surrender a first-round pick in exchange for Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs was both a vote of confidence and a call to action: We drafted you to be a star ... now be a star.