The Buffalo Bills – Potential 2012 Sleeper Team?

Buffalo Bills wide out Stevie Johnson mocks the New York Jets following a touchdown catch in 2011.

Sleep on the Buffalo Bills this upcoming season if you choose to.

With the New York Jets falling into a quarterback controversy, and the Miami Dolphins breaking in a new coach, the Bills are in the best position to challenge the New England Patriots for AFC East supremacy.

The Bills started off the 2011 season with a 5-2 record.  Those five wins included thrilling last minute victories over the Oakland Raiders in Week 2, followed by the Patriots in Week 3.

Then the wheels came completely off the Bills wagon.  They would go on to lose eight of their last nine games (which included a seven game losing streak).  The Bills would end their season with a demoralizing 49-21 lose to New England.

This offseason has brought new hope for Buffalo Bills fans.  Following a series a moves that should go a long way in plugging up the gaping holes on their 26th ranked defense, it wouldn’t be farfetched to expect an improvement on last season’s debacle.

It was difficult to find an area of strength on the Buffalo Bills’ defense last season. The unit finished 26th in yards allowed, 27th in sacks, 28th in rush defense and 19th in pass defense. Yikes.

Aware of the unit’s shortcomings, the Bills busted out the checkbook to change their fortunes. In came defensive ends Mario Williams (six years, $96M) and Mark Anderson (four years, $19.5M), who have combined for 88.5 sacks in their careers. Meanwhile, Buffalo used the 10th overall pick in April’s draft to address the secondary with cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who the team feels can slide directly into a starting role.

… this defense will be anchored by Mario Williams, who was handed record money to lead the unit’s transformation. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson spoke glowingly of the sometimes-linebacker Thursday on NFL Network.

“A beast, man. He’s huge,” Johnson said, adding that “the dude’s like freaking Hercules out there. He just leans on you and gets a sack. He’s looking real strong out there. Our whole defense is looking dominant.”

The Bills face off against the New York Jets in Week 1 of 2012.  I’m not sure what Mark Sanchez should fear more – the impending landfall of Hurricane Tebow, or a season opening matchup versus the revamped, hungry Buffalo Bills defense.

NFL-ATL: Mario Williams is ‘freaking Hercules,’ says Bills WR

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