1. NFL.com charts this stretch as toughest part of Bills schedule
Buffalo's 2020 slate has the fifth toughest strength of schedule in terms of their opponents' collective winning percentage from last year (.525). As we all know NFL rosters change considerably in the offseason making that SOS a bit misleading. NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund used her predictive models to assess the toughest stretch of games on Buffalo’s 2020 schedule.
According to her research, the toughest pod of games will be from Week 10 to Week 14. Over those five weeks the Bills are away at Arizona, home against the Chargers, at San Francisco on Monday night and then home against the Steelers on Sunday night along with a bye in Week 11.
Frelund's models indicate that the Bills have a less than 50 percent chance of winning three of those four games (Arizona – 47.2%, San Francisco – 44%, Pittsburgh – 46.1%). The only game in that span that her research has Buffalo entering with a better than 50-50 shot of winning is their Week 12 home game against the Chargers.
"Look for Buffalo to rely on their run game while taking downfield shots in their passing game," said Frelund. "If Josh Allen can improve his accuracy look for Buffalo as the team to beat in the AFC East. My current prediction have the Bills victorious in the division."
2. Why Stefon Diggs fits what Buffalo needs so well
Since the Bills pulled off the trade that landed them wide receiver Stefon Diggs there has been a lot of analysis of how well he fits what the Bills want to do on offense. Perhaps the most accurate of assessments came from 'The Ringer's' Robert Mays.
Mays capably breaks down how Diggs’ play exceeds his physical measurables (6-0, 4.45 speed). More importantly he effectively explains why the dynamic receivers should help improve Buffalo's downfield passing game.
Among players with at least 50 contested targets since 2017, only Chris Godwin (58.8 percent) has a better catch rate than Diggs (58.7). Diggs regularly goes up in traffic and comes down with catches he has no business making. Elite body control and exceptional hands help to make that possible, but where Diggs truly stands out is his ability to track the ball in the air. Few pass-catchers in football do a better job of finding the ball in flight, and by consistently locking onto throws early, Diggs is capable of making adjustments mid-play that other receivers just can't.
It might seem odd that a guy with his build is such a dominant vertical target, but even if Diggs is giving up a few inches to someone like Julio Jones, his knack for locating the ball allows him to chase down throws that are several feet —or even yards—off-target. Combined with elite route-running skills that often help him leave cornerbacks in his dust, Diggs is able to create larger throwing windows and greater margins for error for his quarterbacks.
Having a receiver capable of making plays where most receivers can't should only serve to improve Josh Allen's completion percentage and deep ball accuracy, which are two elements of Buffalo's offense that needs to be more efficient for the Bills to enter true contender territory.
3. NFL VP Troy Vincent says league planning for full stadiums
The NFL is planning to play their 2020 regular season in front of fans. That according to NFL Executive VP of Football Operations, Troy Vincent.
In an interview with NBC Sports Washington over the holiday weekend, Vincent said that’s their approach until circumstances demand contingencies.
"We are planning to have full stadiums until the medical community tells us otherwise," Vincent said. "Now remember when we're talking -- we're talking about August, September. So there's a lot that can happen here. So we're planning for full stadiums.
"We also know that we have to plan for half stadiums. Three-quarters. So we're planning for all of these different scenarios. But first and foremost, we're making every effort, working with the medical community, if we can have those stadiums with all people until they tell us otherwise when that time comes, that's our plan. That's our plan of action."