Bills' 2024 schedule ranked as NFL's most difficult

The Buffalo Bills' 2024 schedule has been ranked as the most difficult in the NFL by one outlet.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen runs around the smoke to stand in line to greet his teammates as they
Bills quarterback Josh Allen runs around the smoke to stand in line to greet his teammates as they / Tina MacIntyre-Yee /Rochester Democrat

Parity is one of the several facets that make the NFL as endlessly watchable and enjoyable as it is; the league is very much designed to give lesser teams consistent opportunities to better themselves while stronger clubs encounter more hurdles as their success becomes more sustained.

One such potential road bump is the NFL schedule, which, given the convoluted way it's constructed, annually attempts to match a team up against teams that were of a similar quality to it in the prior season (the division-oriented portions of the schedule notwithstanding). The formula used to determine the schedule is incredibly complicated and could itself be a 1,000-word article, but for the sake of brevity, just know that a team that was good in the prior season will generally play a tougher schedule than a team that was not good in the prior campaign.

The Buffalo Bills have cemented themselves as perennial contenders throughout the past few seasons and, thus, have encountered their fair share of difficult slates over the past few years, but the team’s 2024 schedule is perhaps their toughest in the recent past. The team’s 2024 opponents have been long known, but the dates and times disclosed during the team’s recent schedule release suggest a difficult trek is ahead; the team has an immediate short week (it’s set to play in Miami on Thursday Night Football in Week 2) and three consecutive road games from Weeks 4–6. Its Week 12 bye week is sandwiched in between matchups with the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, who both appeared in last season’s Super Bowl.

Buffalo’s difficult schedule is not wholly unique, as every other AFC East team is also tasked with facing off against the talented AFC South and NFC West this season. It’s the Bills’ non-division-oriented and unique matchups that make their misery more isolated, however; AFC East teams round out their schedules this year with games against teams that finished in the corresponding spot in the AFC West, AFC North, and NFC North last season. Buffalo finished first in the AFC East last season and will thus play the Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, and Detroit Lions—who all finished first in their divisions last year—in 2024. All three of these teams look like legitimate Super Bowl contenders again this season.

Related: Ranking Bills 2024 NFL Draft class by potential immediate impact

It’s, simply put, a difficult schedule; this sentiment has been echoed by the 33rd Team’s Dan Pizzuta, who ranked Buffalo’s 2024 schedule as the hardest in the league in a recent article for the outlet.

"The AFC East plays the AFC South and NFC West this season, which already puts the Buffalo Bills against some of the best teams in the league," Pizzuta wrote in his analysis. "In those divisional pods, the Bills get the 49ers at home in that grouping but will have to play the Texans, Rams and Indianapolis Colts on the road . . . Last season, the Bills were one of the best home teams in the league, with a 7-2 record and a plus-113 point differential. 

"For other road games this season, the Bills must travel to Detroit, Seattle and Baltimore. Those are three games against potential playoff teams in challenging venues."

The Bills’ schedule is objectively difficult, but fortunately, the Bills are an objectively talented team. Despite seeing significant turnover in the offseason, Buffalo’s roster is still centered around an otherworldly quarterback in Josh Allen, and the team’s perenially stout defense is returning nine starters. The team’s schedule is tough, but they’ve overcome tough slates in the past and look primed to do so yet again this season; you can expect the Bills’ schedule to extend past Week 18 for a sixth consecutive year.

Kyle Silagyi