1. The front seven is stout. The Bills can flat-out get to the quarterback, finishing second in the NFL last year with 57 sacks — even more impressive when you consider that they didn’t play with the lead often in the second half. They had three players in double digits — Mario Williams (13), Kyle Williams (10½), and Jerry Hughes (10) — while Marcell Dareus added 7½. The run defense wasn’t great, but with Jim Schwartz now the coordinator, and Brandon Spikes running the defense at middle linebacker, the Bills should be tough to score against.
2. The secondary can cover. The Bills finished second in the NFL with 23 interceptions last year, and even with Jairus Byrd and Kiko Alonso (a combined eight picks) unavailable, they have plenty of talent in the secondary. They have former first-round picks at both cornerback spots in Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. Free safety Aaron Williams had four interceptions and 11 passes defended last year. And Da’Norris Searcy, taking over for Byrd at free safety, had 3½ sacks and two touchdowns last year.
3. Team speed kills. The Bills don’t quite know what they have at quarterback with EJ Manuel, but they have a lot of speed and talent around him. C.J. Spiller is coming off a disappointing season with 933 rushing yards and only two TDs, but he still averaged 4.6 yards per carry, and Fred Jackson added 890 yards and nine touchdowns. Robert Woods had a respectable rookie season (597 yards, three touchdowns), Marquise Goodwin has Olympic-caliber track speed, and first-round pick Sammy Watkins looks like a bona fide superstar.