The Buffalo Bills are in much better position after 12 games of the season than they were last year.
The Bills stand 9-3 and currently hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Last year at this time the Bills were 7-5 and had just lost three of their previous five games. Those included ugly defeats to Jacksonville, Indianapolis and New England.
The most impressive thing about the Bills’ position is they have done it against a much tougher schedule than last season.
The Bills’ schedule through 12 games is tied for fifth toughest based on the wins by opponents. It’s sixth toughest in the league, based on the Football Outsiders’ strength of competition and performance metric called DVOA. (It’s a measure of a team’s result on every single play compared with a league average based on situation and opponent.)
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In 2021, the Bills played the easiest schedule in the league, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA as well as by the NFL’s yardage ranking. It was simply a function of the NFL’s annual schedule rotation. Miami played the sixth easiest schedule last year and New England’s slate was eighth easiest.
Because the AFC East is much improved this season, the Bills still have a long way to go in their final five games.
Buffalo’s remaining schedule is seventh toughest, according to Football Outsiders. The New York Jets have the fourth toughest remaining schedule. Miami is fifth and New England sixth.
The Buffalo News’ position grades for the Bills’ reflect the team’s general improvement over last season.
The average through 12 weeks at all but one position is higher than last year’s final regular-season grade.
The only unit that’s down from last season is defensive backfield, which is no surprise since the Bills have been playing almost the entire season without cornerback Tre’Davious White and safety Micah Hyde.
Here are the News’ grades compared with last season (in parentheses), based on a scale of 0 to 5:
OFFENSIVE LINE 3.25 (3.15)
DEFENSIVE LINE 4.29 (3.79)
DEFENSIVE BACKS 3.71 (4.18)
SPECIAL TEAMS 3.92 (3.21).