Road-heavy start to schedule will test Bills' new QB

The addition of Star Lotulelei (98) bolsters the Bills' defensive line. AP Photo/Mike McCarn

The NFL has released its 2018 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Buffalo Bills.

Breakdown: For the first time in the 59 seasons of Bills history, the team will start the regular season with five of its first seven games on the road. Buffalo then returns home for one of its toughest games, hosting the Patriots in Week 8. That makes for a brutal first-half schedule for the Bills' new quarterback, whether it is AJ McCarron or a rookie selected in next week's draft. Of course, there is an upside to the tough start, with six of the Bills' final games in the friendly confines of New Era Field, as well as a Week 11 bye.

First time hosting Monday Night Football since 2008: The Bills will host the New England Patriots on ESPN's Monday Night Football on Oct. 29, marking the first home Monday night game since Nov. 17, 2008, when the Bills lost 29-27 to the Cleveland Browns. The Bills have not won a Monday night game -- excluding their 2014 win over the New York Jets, which was rescheduled from a Sunday and moved to Detroit because of a snowstorm -- since 1999. Their last home Monday night win came in 1994.

Less national exposure than expected: For a team that made the playoffs last season, the Bills have a surprising amount of run-of-the-mill Sunday games at 1 p.m. There are 15 total, with the lone exception of the Monday night game against New England. Barring a late-season game that is flexed into a prime-time spot -- which could be a difficult sell if Buffalo stumbles through that early schedule -- the Bills will extend their NFL-long drought of playing on NBC's Sunday Night Football. They have not appeared on that telecast since a 56-10 trouncing by the Patriots in 2007. The Bills also will not appear on Thursday Night Football this season for the first time since 2011.

Strength of schedule: 18th, .496

Bills regular-season schedule (All times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.

  • Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Green Bay, 1 p.m.

  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, Tennessee, 1 p.m.

  • Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, at Houston, 1 p.m.

  • Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

  • Week 8: Monday, Oct. 29, New England, 8:15 p.m.

  • Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, Chicago, 1 p.m.

  • Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, at NY Jets, 1 p.m.

  • Week 11: BYE

  • Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Miami, 1 p.m.

  • Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, NY Jets, 1 p.m.

  • Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, Detroit, 1 p.m.

  • Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at New England, 1 p.m.

  • Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Miami, 1 p.m.