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Even With Recent Trades, the Future is Murky in Buffalo

Remember how the Chicago Cubs were long perceived as baseball’s lovable losers before they finally ended a ridiculously long drought to win the World Series a year ago? The NFL’s version is the Buffalo Bills, minus the success and young talent but with colder weather and drunker fans.

Staring down the barrel of another uncertain season, the Bills decided to mix things up in the preseason by making two trades in the span of less than an hour. Buffalo sent talented but oft-injured wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams and traded cornerback Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles. In return, they received wideout Jordan Matthews, cornerback E.J. Gaines as well as second- and third-round picks in the 2018 NFL draft.

The Bills are in flux right now and are trying to rebuild while staying competitive – a task that’s easier said than done. The franchise has just 28 players on its current roster who opened training camp with the team a year ago and only 14 players it drafted, not including this season’s six-player class. New head coach Sean McDermott clearly wants to rid himself of the mess ex-bench boss Rex Ryan left behind and it’s hard to blame him for that.

It’s tough to project what’s going to happen with the Bills in 2017, and oddsmakers aren’t very high on them when it comes to futures markets. Here’s my betting breakdown for Buffalo:

Super Bowl +15000

Ouch. Buffalo’s price of +15000 is the sixth-lowest in the NFL, ranking ahead of only the lowly Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns. While no one is going to confuse them with the 1972 Miami Dolphins, I don’t think they deserve to be this low on the list. Bills great Jim Kelly recently told the team’s fans to “Keep your hope and stay on the wagon,” but that shouldn’t translate to the sports betting world. I’d look elsewhere for long-shot Super Bowl value if I were you.

OVER/UNDER win total – 6.5

The Bills have meddled in the depths of mediocrity for some time now, as they’ve gone 6-10, 6-10, 9-7, 8-8 and 7-9 in the last five seasons. As always seems to be the case in Upstate New York, it’s one step forward and two steps back. If the front office dealt away Watkins and Darby without getting solid players who play the same position in return, I would be on the UNDER all day. But this year’s Bills shouldn’t be that much worse than 2016, so at least seven wins isn’t out of the question. That’s why I’m leaning toward the OVER here.

Odds to Make the Playoffs +450

You may want to look away, Bills fans. Buffalo’s playoff drought reached 17 years in 2016 – the longest mark in the league. Yes, even the Browns have been to the postseason more recently than the Bills. Such is life when you’re in the same division as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Don’t expect that streak to end this season, although there’s not much value in backing the ‘NO’ option at -700.

Odds to Win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award – Zay Jones +3300

After enjoying a prolific college career at East Carolina, Jones is ready to prove his worth as the 37th overall pick in the NFL draft. The rookie holds the FBS season and career records for receptions (158 and 399) and has all the tools to be an impact player in the pros. Matthews suffered a chip fracture in his sternum just days after the aforementioned trade, opening the door for Jones to put on a show in the preseason with the opportunity to grab a starting job. If the 22-year-old clicks with quarterback Tyrod Taylor early, watch out.

2017 Buffalo Bills Futures Odds
Super Bowl+15000
AFC Championship+6600
AFC East+1200
Win Total 6.5

Odds as of August 15 at Bovada