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Bills Today | Where ESPN's FPI ranks Buffalo heading into the 2020 season

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1. Where ESPN's FPI ranks Buffalo heading into the 2020 season

ESPN released its preseason FPI (Football Power Index) projections which produces team rankings and season predictions.

Preseason ratings are based on each team's Las Vegas win total; last season's performance on offense, defense and special teams; the number of returning starters; coaching staff changes; and starting and backup quarterbacks.

ESPN has Buffalo at No. 10 with the Patriots being the only other AFC East team in front of them at No. 9. The FPI indicates the Bills are projected to win 8.6 games and have a 60% chance to reach the playoffs. The Patriots are projected to win 8.6 games as well and have the same chance as Buffalo to make it to the playoffs.

Here's how close the margin is: Buffalo has a 41.0% chance to win the division while the Patriots are all the way down at ... 40.9%. This division is a toss-up for the first time since we discovered fire.

The Bills rank one spot behind the Patriots in FPI's rankings but have a slightly easier schedule. For their non-common opponents, the Patriots play the Ravens and Houston Texans, while the Bills play the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans.

The Bills FPI is 1.9, while the Patriots FPI is 2.1 which is a reason why New England is ranked higher. Buffalo received a -0.8 for offense, 2.8 for defense and -0.1 for special teams. The Patriots received a -1.9 for offense, 3.6 for defense and 0.4 for special teams.

2. Sean McDermott on why he is encouraged by his team

Bills head coach Sean McDermott joined the What’s Next podcast which is hosted by former Bill and current Bills radio analyst Eric Wood. McDermott shared his path to coaching, stories throughout his career and thoughts on his current roster. The head coach also reminisced about helping the Bills end their playoff drought during Wood's last season in Buffalo.

"That was a gift from God," McDermott said. "To come to Buffalo, it's never easy your first season. To be around the group of players and staff that I was around was just incredible. Then, to be able to make the playoffs going through the challenges we experienced together, I don't think that will be a group I forget anytime soon. Even though we got knocked out in the first round, just the way we made the playoffs. A lot of people think we got lucky, I don't."

McDermott explained on how each year the mindset of the team changed in order to work towards and expect improvement each season. When reflecting on last year's 10-6 season, McDermott said it was a tough ending.

"The minute that game was over we went to work trying to improve and get ourselves ready for the upcoming season," McDermott explained. "A lot of runway in front of us, a lot of work to be done. I'm encouraged to this point with the work our players are putting in in this virtual format. It was not an easy ending to last season because a lot of work went into it, but I'm encouraged by our progress."

Looking ahead to 2020, McDermott can't wait to see Allen's growth from this offseason once the team is able to get back together.

"Josh is number 1, a great teammate," McDermott said. "Number 2, he works extremely hard. You watch his growth and development from his rookie year to last year. I'm excited to see what he has done now from the close of the season in 2019 until the time we see him again whether it's this spring or training camp."

3. Could this rookie be a surprise gem?

Every team has one player who was drafted beyond the second round this year that has start potential. The Bills received several high draft grades after the NFL Draft for their ability to address areas of need while choosing the best available in certain rounds. With the offseason in full swing, Bleacher Report picked a "surprise rookie gem" for each NFL team. B/R chose Gabriel Davis as Buffalo's surprise gem.

Incoming fourth-round pick Gabriel Davis could supplant Robert Foster as the team's vertical threat. Davis ranked second among FBS wide receivers last season in deep receiving yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

"I like Davis," general manager Brandon Beane said during the initial episode of Bills: Embedded 2020. "I hope he doesn't run too fast, because he plays faster—you know what I mean? Just be 4.58 or something, he'll be fine."

Davis ran a 4.54 at the combine and fell. Clearly, the organization likes the 6'2", 216-pound target enough to provide him with multiple opportunities.

Davis ranks 10th in receptions at UCF with 152, seventh in receiving yards with 2,447 and second in receiving touchdowns with 23.

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