Bills schedule is sixth toughest in NFL, according to Vegas odds


Staff member

The Buffalo Bills enter the 2024 season staring at the sixth-toughest schedule in the NFL, according to the projected win totals by Las Vegas oddsmakers.
It’s not a surprise, and it’s nothing new.

The Bills play in a tough division, with three of the four teams projected to have winning records. And for the fourth year in a row the Bills will face a “first-place schedule” after they again won the AFC East.

That means the Bills have crossover games based on last year’s standing against division winners in Baltimore, Kansas City and Detroit.
Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau tips a pass by Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson during Buffalo's win at Baltimore in 2022. The Bills again visit the Ravens, one of Buffalo's tough road tests in 2024.
Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

The Bills’ schedule entering last season ranked second-toughest according to Vegas oddsmakers. It wasn’t easy. The Bills faced four teams that hit the skids late in the season – Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Denver and Philadelphia – but each were at their relative best when they played Buffalo.

However, last season's schedule didn’t turn out as arduous as it appeared in the summer. According to advanced analytics, the Bills’ offense faced the 14th-most difficult schedule of defenses, according to analyst Aaron Schatz’s “value over average” metric. That measure rates each play based on the opposing defense's average success in stopping that type of play over the course of a season.

The Bills’ defense faced the fifth-easiest schedule of offenses, based on “value over average.” That ranking was dragged down by four AFC East games against two of the worst offenses in the NFL in the New York Jets (who ranked 31st in yards) and New England (30th). Unfortunately for the Bills, they lost two of those games.

Oddsmakers project that the AFC North will be the toughest division in the NFL in 2024, just like last season when Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh all made the playoffs. Cincinnati missed the playoffs last year but gets star quarterback Joe Burrow back from a wrist injury and has a projected win total of 10.5 games, the same as the Bills.

The Bengals wound up with the toughest schedule in the league last season, according to value-over-average metrics, and four of the five toughest schedules last season belonged to the AFC North teams.

Preseason projections, obviously, are speculative.

Nevertheless, of the 12 teams projected to have the hardest schedules last season according to Vegas win projections, just four -- Buffalo, Kansas City, Miami and Baltimore -- had winning records.

The Bills’ top AFC East rivals have some potential schedule advantages.

The Jets’ crossover games are against Pittsburgh, Denver and Minnesota, all arguably easier than the Bills’ standings-based foes. The Dolphins’ crossover games are against Cleveland, Las Vegas and Green Bay.

The easiest schedules, according to oddsmakers: Atlanta, the Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans, Chicago and the Jets.

Atlanta and New Orleans play in the NFC South, projected to be the weakest division in the league, by far, just as it was last season. The Jets, Chargers and Bears all finished last in their divisions last season and get fourth-place schedules.

The most difficult schedules are: Pittsburgh, New England, Cleveland, Houston and Minnesota. The Texans went from worst to first in the AFC South last year, and their schedule was sixth-easiest last year according to Vegas odds. Houston looks like it will have much stiffer tests this season.

The teams with the highest projected win totals are Kansas City, Baltimore and San Francisco – all 11.5.

The Chiefs have six prime-time games and play four games on a short week of rest. However, the Chiefs get what looks like an easy crossover by playing the NFC South this season. Furthermore, the AFC West is rated as the second-easiest division in the NFL, with none of the other three teams -- the Chargers, Denver and Las Vegas -- projected to have a winning record. Thus, the Chiefs’ schedule is rated eighth-easiest in the league.

The rankings are based on BetMGM’s current win projections, although the FanDuel and Caesars Sportsbook totals both are almost identical.