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What will be the toughest game on Bills' schedule?

By Tim Graham

What will be the toughest game on the Buffalo Bills' schedule this year?

That was the question Bleacher Report writer Erik Frenz wanted to explore on his AFC East blog. I was my usual long-winded self in trying to come up with an answer.

I mulled over the opening day game against the New York Jets because of two time-honored sports truisms: 1) The most important game always is the next game; 2) Opening day sets a tone for the entire season. Then there's the idea that a victory over the Jets could send the Bills to a 3-0 start, with games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns to follow.

I also considered the second of the arduous, back-to-back West Coast games. The Bills will play the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals in Weeks 5 and 6. The Cardinals wouldn't nearly be considered the toughest foe on the schedule, but the circumstances are rugged.

But my final answer was Week 10 against the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium, where the Bills never have won. Here is what I wrote:

That game is more than just a win or a loss for Buffalo, it's a psychological hurdle. Buffalo seems to be turning the corner from hoping to win to expecting to win, and New England is the mountaintop. The Bills could have swept the Patriots last season, winning in Orchard Park and then jumping to a 21-0 lead in the rematch, but they fell apart and couldn't close out what could've been a symbolic victory.

Frenz admitted he agreed with me and offered up a counterpoint -- and a darn good one -- for the sake of discussion.

But if you were to poll the Bills' roster right now and tell them you could guarantee a victory in any single game on the schedule, the response would be nearly unanimous: over the Patriots in Foxborough.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |