The Buffalo Bills finished 2018 with a 6-10 record. Although that was a step in the wrong direction compared to a playoff appearance in 2017, there's plenty to look forward to.
Buffalo believes it has a lot of the right pieces to build for a long and profitable future. However, we're focused more on the immediate future. How will 2019 shape up for the Bills?
That will depend on a few specific players. Obviously, everyone needs to contribute. That said, some players could make or break 2019.
Here are the three main X-factors for the Buffalo Bills in 2019.
The starting quarterback is usually an X-factor for any team in the NFL. An MVP season could lead any team to a playoff run, while a miserable one could lead to a top-five draft pick.
However, Josh Allen is one of the biggest X-Factors in football because Buffalo simply has no idea what it is getting.
Last year was Allen's rookie year; it was a weird one. He proved to have a big arm and was an excellent runner. Yet, Allen threw for just 2,074 yards in 12 games (11 starts). Part of the problem was his poor completion percentage (52.8%).
Allen had some strong games but struggled to hit his receivers. Year 2 will serve as a major steppingstone in his development. Will he fall back into the accuracy problems that stunted his growth? Or will he improve and make the future of Buffalo bright?
Cole Beasley and John Brown
For Josh Allen to succeed, he's going to need some weapons. The Buffalo Bills got him Antonio Brown — until they didn't. That deal never happened, meaning the Bills still needed a receiver.
In the end, they got Cole Beasley and John Brown.
Neither are Antonio Brown, but they're solid consolation prizes. John Brown is a burner who will take the top off the defense. That's a perfect type for Allen, who won't have to worry about overthrowing Brown.
Beasley has been one of the best slot receivers in football over the last few years. He's a great route runner with sure hands who should help Allen's completion percentage rise on short passes.
Separately, neither of the two are superstars. Together they could create a fantastic tandem that helps Allen and the offense grow exponentially.
The Buffalo Bills' first-round draft pick of 2019 had to be on here. Ed Oliver is an absolute tank at defensive tackle. The Houston product immediately brings a menacing presence to the defense and gives the Bills another legitimate defensive lineman.
Defensive tackle is one of the most overlooked positions in football. Even if a defensive tackle isn't producing big stats, he can change the game in so many ways. Oliver will plug up the middle, keeping teams from running too much at him.
He's also going to be a constant threat to the quarterback. He should open up lanes for other pass rushers.
The Buffalo Bills had a very solid defense last season. In fact, they gave up the second lowest amount of yards (but were middle-of-the-pack in points allowed). Adding Oliver should make them even more formidable. How well he plays and how much of a threat he poses to opposing offenses will affect the success of the defense… and of the Buffalo Bills as a whole.