Bills season prediction: 6-10

There’s a new head coach in Buffalo. There are new philosophies on offense and defense. And one way or the other, there will be a new quarterback. Wrap that all into one, and there’s hope for the franchise with the NFL’s longest playoff drought.

But can Doug Marrone, in his first season at the helm, bring the Bills back to the postseason for the first time since 1999? The odds are against him and his rookie quarterback, EJ Manuel. Sure, the Indianapolis Colts pulled it off last season with Andrew Luck, turning a 2-14 squad into an 11-5 contender. But it’s a tough task.

The Bills are headed in the right direction. But it will be difficult to improve over their 6-10 record from last season. It’s not Manuel who stands in their way -- he looks the part of a franchise quarterback in the early going -- but rather their schedule. Outside of the NFC West, the NFC South and AFC North might be the NFL’s toughest divisions, and the Bills’ path to the playoffs will require taking down teams such as the Saints, Falcons, Steelers and Ravens.

Then, of course, there’s the Bills’ perennial problem: the Patriots. If they can pull off at least one win against New England, they might have a shot. But it’s a lot to ask of a first-year coach and rookie quarterback. Predicting another 6-10 finish.

Predicted finish in AFC East: third