Here are some of my brief thoughts from the 2013 schedule, that you can find in full right here:
- The Bills will have to prove it, and early - Buffalo opens at home against New England. So that means whoever is the starting quarterback and head coach Doug Marrone need to be ready for Tom Brady and company. The advantage? Bill Belichick won't know what to expect out of Nathaniel Hackett and Mike Pettine. The disadvantage? Playing one of their toughest opponents the first week with a new head coach.
- The NFL gives back to the Bills - After two straight years of three home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the month of December, the NFL did the Bills a favor by scheduling only one true home game in that month for 2013. Not only that, but it's against the Miami Dolphins who can be one of the team's more marketable opponents. The Bills are certainly cheering this portion of the schedule for ticket sales alone.
- Primetime, yes. At home? Not this year - When the schedule was released in 2012, only five teams were left without a primetime game at home. Cleveland, Miami, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. In 2013, the Buffalo Bills will likely be one of the only teams without a home game in primetime. Instead they travel to one of the teams on last year's list, the Cleveland Browns, for a Thursday night contest.
- Just call the Bills "snowbirds" - That's right, the Bills will be heading to the state of Florida on back-to-back weekends in the month of December when they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road. Before that stretch, though, the Bills won't have to play in the elements of winter for two weeks ahead of time. They have their bye week in Week 12, then take on Atlanta at the Rogers Centre the following week.
- Three teams off the bye - It seems the Bills' opponents in the middle portion of the season may get some extra time to gear up for their contest. Three times, an opponent of Buffalo will be coming off their bye week. Week 7 at Miami, Week 8 at New Orleans and Week 11 versus the New York Jets. Those road games will be hard enough as it is, but an extra week to mend and prepare makes it a daunting task. The Jets also could be one of the Bills' most beatable opponents. The fact they get a break ahead of seeing the Bills on the road could be a solid advantage.
- ATL in GTA - For the fourth straight year, the neighbors up north will be getting an NFC opponent at the Rogers Centre. First it was Chicago, then it was Washington, followed by Seattle and now Atlanta... the schedule makers have loved to put the opposite league indoors. Atlanta will feel right at home, too, seeing as how they play in a dome for at least 9 games of their year per season. It's a marketable game for that area featuring a team that could be Super Bowl bound in 2013.
- No 'gimmes' through first half of the year - For the first eight games of the season, the Buffalo Bills will be challenged throughout. Starting off with New England is tough, but then they get Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers who really came on late in the year. That's followed by a trip to MetLife Stadium to take on the Jets, who usually play the Bills tough at home. From there? The Super Bowl champions, an underratedly talented Cleveland team that will be charged up for their first primetime home game since the new rule was instituted, the playoff Bengals, the free agency crazy Dolphins and then New Orleans in the Superdome. If the Bills are for going to compete this year, they're going to withstand the first half of the season.