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25 predictions for the Bills 2012 season

I did a post like this last year and after the season concluded, I saw fit to see if any of them were right. We are doing it again this year.

1) Will Ryan Fitzpatrick have over 25 touchdowns? No.
No one has fallen more in my eyes over the year than Ryan Fitzpatrick. It is crazy how during his hot streak last year, I was all for extending him. We all were for the most part. Now? Not so much. We've gone over his bad 2nd half enough by now. I think the Bills will be pass happy, but I don't see 25 plus TDs. Look for 23 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

2) Who will be 2nd in sacks? Marcell Dareus.
Everyone pretty much has Mario Williams leading the pack, right? Guy lead the Texans in sacks every year except last year when his season was cut short. He should get double digits playing with the talent around him. Someone, who didn't have any talent around him last year who played well was Dareus. It was probably a miracle that he got 5.5 sacks with Spencer Johnson and Arthur Moats coming off the edges. He was constantly doubled teamed and was still able to penetrate the pocket. The cavalry is here with Anderson and both Williams. I see 8.5 sacks in his future.

3) Will the Bills have more than 20 interceptions (Last year's total)? Yes.
This is a tough one. Last year's total put them in the top 10. The Bills were hot in the interception department at the start of last year, picking off Mike Vick, Tom Brady and Andy Dalton 10 times during their first 5 games. At that rate, the Bills would have had over 30 interceptions. Mix in the element of forcing turnovers being a kind of a hot/cold stat, lack of pass rush and injuries, and we all know why the turnovers stopped. The Bills have cured their pass rush problems with the addition of Williams and Anderson and should be able to force more turnovers. Also, the Bills are playing some bad QBs this year. They will get 22 picks.

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4) Will Stevie have over 80 catches? Yes.
Johnson was targeted 135 times last year, ranking 9th in the NFL. Keep in mind that Johnson was nursing a groin injury during the road trip from hell (Losses to Dallas/Miami) while catching just two passes. He probably would have went over 80 catches if he didn't have the Happy New Year shirt against the Pats. Fitz loves going to Stevie. Everyone knows that. With the Bills being pass happy and not exactly having a lot of pass catching weapons, I can see him shattering the 80 catch mark.

5) Who will be the 2nd leading receiver?  Fred Jackson
Jackson was on pace for 62 catches if he didn't go down with a season ending injury. That would have been 3rd in the NFL for RBs. The Bills like using their backs in the passing game and I still think #22 will get more playing time than #28. Jackson had accounted for almost 40% of the Bills offense before he got hurt last year.

6) Who will be the Bills offensive X-factor? Scott Chandler
It is funny, but I hate Scott Chandler. OK, hate may be too much, but I just think he's kind of ordinary for what you want out of a TE (Ranked 23rd in catches at the position), but because the Bills don't have many weapons on offense, I think someone is going to step up that we haven't thought of. I know, not a great reason. Chandler hasn't gotten much recognition this offseason, but I think cause the TE is such a major part in offenses these days, I can see him making 45-50 catches this year and being a major redzone target. He did rank 7th in touchdowns for tight ends last year and that came after missing some guys. Just keep an eye on him.

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7) Who will be the surprise player for the Bills? Chris Kelsay
Yes, for years, Chris Kelsay has been on my list of guys I've constantly made fun of. He's overpaid. He's your typical white defensive linemen. He doesn't do much else. However, he finally has help. You'd have to go back to 2004 when he played with Pat Williams, Sam Adams and Aaron Schobel to find a better class of defensive linemen. And frankly, these guys are much better. I can see Kelsay getting 6-8 sacks and actually making plays because he's going to get 1-on-1 coverage. Hell, he's sucked so badly, they will just let the wind defend him because we have so many capable D-linemen.

8) Who will be the most disappointing player? Mark Anderson
Anderson hasn't played much this preseason because of injury and there's just something about him that kind of worries me. He's on his fourth team since 2010. I know he got 10 sacks last year, but six of those sacks came when the Pats were up by 10 points or more. I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but when the opposition is playing catch up, it is easier to get after the QB when you know they are throwing every down. Also, I see him being a liability on running downs.

9) Who will be the worst announcing team this year? Spero Dedes and Steve Beuerlein
WHO!? Exactly. Spero? Is it Jack Spero? I have a feeling we are going to get some lousy announcers this year. The teams the Bills play in the AFC aren't exactly sexy picks. Last year, we got spoiled with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms (Yes, they suck, but they are better than the other hacks) because we played a lot of major market teams like the Giants and Cowboys. I don't see high end announcers calling Bills/Titans or Bills/Jags or Bills/Miami or Bills/Cards. It is going to be some bad broadcasters and I see a lot of Spero and Steve Beurelein in our future.

10) How many yards will CJ Spiller combine for? 650 yards
Spiller had over 800 yards last year in combined offense, but a majority of that came with Fred Jackson injured. I don't think he will come close to that. Look for the yard ratio to be half rushing and receiving. I know the Bills have big plans for him, but I still think CJ is a little green in the receiving department and the fact that we haven't seen Gailey execute an offense with two backs yet.

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11) How many TDs will David Nelson score? 5TDs
Last year, Nelson had 5TDs and none of them went for more than 18 yards. I think next to Chandler, Nelson is Fitz's favorite target in the redzone because of his size and route running ability. Look for him to repeat his 5TD performance.

12) Who will have the most picks on the team? George Wilson
I know a number of people will probably have Byrd here, but the guy only has 4 picks in his last two years. Could it be because offenses are shying away from him? Maybe. However, I think Wilson just seems to be around the ball more when its through the air. I see 5 picks in his future.

13) Will Tarvaris Jackson start any games this year? No.
I know people point to Fitz's rib injuries from last year, but for the most part, when Fitz starts, he finishes the game. He hasn't missed a game during his Bills career that didn't involve injuries. His 30 straight starts are the most a Bills QB has started since Bledsoe didn't miss any games over his three years here. As much as I see Fitz struggling at times, I don't see them pulling the trigger for Jackson, cause, well, Jackson kind of stinks.

14) Who needs to step up this year or else? Ryan Fitzpatrick
From Fitz's season finale game against the Colts to the Skins game in Canada, Fitz played 21 games and threw 38 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.  Over his last 9 games, Fitz threw for 10 touchdowns and 16 picks. For his career, Fitz has started 52 games, which only amounts to about 3 seasons worth of games. It is too bad that Fitz couldn't have been a 1st round pick. If he was, we'd probably be more patient with him. You wouldn't throw a highly touted prospect overboard after 52 games, right? However, if you take a poll of Bills fans, a lot of them are looking at college QBs for next year. The pressure is on for Fitz. He's got the big contract and he can't play anywhere near what he did at the end of last year. If he does, he's gone.

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15) Who will be pro bowlers this year? Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams
The AFC isn't exactly deep in the DE department and since the pro bowl likes to goto a 4-3, I think Mario will be a shoe-in if he stays healthy. As for Dareus, I see big things from him this year and since the Bills Mafia has such a big social media presence, I can see them stuffing the ballot. 

16) Who will be the Bills most improved player? Kelvin Sheppard
There aren't many players I see making big steps this year in regards to years past. Fitz, Fred, Stevie, Kyle and Mario are who they are. I don't think they are going to get much better. However, I see Sheppard as being someone who may be able to make some strides this year. Do I have any basis about it? Not really. I can just say that he's got two beefy linemen in front of him and should be able to rack up 140 tackles this year.

17) Who will be the Aaron Maybin of this year (Most scrutinized)? Brad Smith

Brad Smith got way too much plug when he arrived here last year. I thought the signing was alright, but people were making him out to be Kordell Stewart: 2.0 or the Wildcat reborn. Stop it. You really think Stewart was a once in a lifetime talent who couldn't be duplicated in the last 15 years? Please. He was a gimmick and gimmicks will die in the NFL. Right now, Smith hasn't done much besides perfecting the 3-yard gain on 3rd and short. Yes, as if Fred Jackson can't run that. People went apeshit when he fumbled a kickoff against Minnesota in the preseason, mind you. He better do something.  

18) Who will be the defensive player of the year? Mario Williams
This is a closer call than it would appear to be. It is definitely going to be a defensive lineman. I've loved what I've seen so far with Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. They could easily take the title, but I think Mario is going to because he'll have more sacks. Simple as that. He's the straw that stirs the drink.

19) Who will be the offensive player of the year? Fred Jackson
He would have been the OPOY for the Bills if he didn't go down with an injury last year. I think he'll bounce back this year. The Bills only play four teams in the top 15 in run defense. He can do it all. Run, catch, block and lead. He's everything you want in a running back. Let's just hope he still has something left in the tank at his age.

20) Who will be the comeback player of the year? Kyle Williams
OK. That was easy. The guy is coming off a serious ankle injury which cut his season short last year. As long as injuries don't rear its ugly head, he'll be a beast up front. Keep an eye on Leodis McKelvin. I know he was going against 4th string guys this preseason, but the guy looked good. Since I don't have much confidence in the corners, I think he could end up being a player there. Hell, next to McGee, he has the 2nd most experience at the position.

21) What will be the best game this year? Pats vs Bills
I think these two teams can definitely do an encore from the first meeting last year. Of course, the schedule doesn't exactly represent a must see opponent (Gabbert? Locker?). Say what you will about losing to the Pats, but they always seem to deliver one entertaining game. Usually, it is the 1st one.

22) What will be the worst game this year? Bills vs. Cards
Nothing exciting about this game. No star power from the Cards besides Fitzgerald. Ugh, I can't wait until the announcers for this game get Fitzgerald and Fitzpatrick mixed up. You know it will happen at least twice.

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23) How many rushing yards will Fred Jackson have? 1,300
The last time the Bills went 3 straight years without a 1,000 yard rusher was from 1999-2001. I think that ends now. If Gailey is smart, he's going to run #22 until his wheels fall out.

24) Will Brad Smith throw a TD pass this year? Yes
For god sakes, if I have to hear more stuff about the wildcat, I'll vomit. I think Gailey will do everything in his power to show how he's a genius by having Smith throw for a TD.

25) Will the Bills make the playoffs? Yes
It took me awhile to come around, but after looking at how easy the schedule is (Only three playoff teams from last year), I think they can go 10-6 and make the playoffs….IF they listen to me. Don't pass the ball 35-40 times a game. Let your defense win you games while your running backs pound the ball 30 times a game. If you do that and play it safe, you'll win 10 games with this squad. I see the Bills and Steelers as your wildcards. Broncos/Texans/Ravens/Patriots as your division champions. The Chargers scare me because they always seem to be mediocre for two years and then they make the playoffs. I don't buy the Chiefs because they don't have a QB and they play in a tough division. The Bengals are one of those teams in which I don't really respect, but maybe I should. They just feel too young to me. The Jets are terrible on offense and I don't think they can handle the NYC pressure. So, yes, the stars are aligned this year for the Bills to make it to the playoffs.

Joe

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