Season Preview: Buffalo Bills

Season Preview: Buffalo Bills
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Sports Mole takes a look at the Buffalo Bills and their hopes for the 2013 NFL season.

The Buffalo Bills head into the new NFL season hoping that 2013 will finally be the year that they break their playoff duck, which stretches back to 1999 and is the longest currently in the league.

Last season they finished bottom of the NFC East division, and it will take quite a turnaround if they are to challenge for the top two in 2013.

However, under new coach Doug Marrone, there will be fresh ideas on both offense and defense this season. It might be too early for them in 2013, but this season could lay foundations for a more successful future.

Head Coach: Doug Marrone

Last season: 6-10

Review: The Bills' season began with a heavy 20-point defeat to the New York Jets as they were outplayed in all quarters but the fourth, this despite having brought in Mario Williams in pre-season in the club's highest ever free agent deal.

They responded with a solid 35-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in week two, and followed that up with a second victory in a row at the Cleveland Browns to provide hope to their long-suffering fans. However, defeat at divisional favourites the New England Patriots restored normal service and halfway through the season they were 3-5 following defeat at the Houston Texans.

Despite this, they had an outside chance of a playoff berth with a couple of solid performances, hope that stayed alive with a 19-14 win against Miami Dolphins. However, in the final six games of the season, the Bills lost four - with a final-day win over the Jets due largely to the game being a dead rubber.

The Bills were bottom of the NFC East, with plenty to do in pre-season.

Notable ins

EJ Manuel: The 16th overall Draft pick, there are high hopes for quarterback EJ Manuel. His arrival is all the more important with last year's starter Kevin Kolb on the reserves list. Manuel will have a lot resting on his shoulders this year and how well he deals with it could decide his team's fate.

Kiko Alonso: Alonso is another rookie who has a lot on his shoulders. As part of the Bills' shakeup, rookies will have roles to play from the off and linebacker Alonso will be a part of the defense. In pre-season he was even calling defensive plays - a stroke of genius or a disaster waiting to happen, perhaps.

Notable Outs

Matt Leinart: It has been a strange pre-season for Leinart. He only joined the Bills this summer to help with the club's depth at quarterback, but one poor showing in pre-season and he was out less than a week later. The move suggests that Buffalo will place their faith in rookie EJ Manuel this season.

Crezdon Butler: Although Butler did not start a game last season, with the injury to Stephon Gilmore he might well have made some starts. Not to be, however, as he will not make the Bills' 53-man roster.

Key Player Offense: Stevie Johnson

Key Player Defense: Mario Williams

Rookie to watch: EJ Manuel

Pre-season form: 2-2

Prediction: 7-9. Inconsistency was again the issue in pre-season. They started well with two wins, but a leaky defense and weak offense once more had an impact in their final two games. Expect the odd big win, but more defeats. They have the potential to sneak third, but with so much changing in one pre-season this probably won't be the year that they break their playoff drought.

Jeff Tuel #8 of the Buffalo Bills passes the ball against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 11, 2013
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