Buffalo Bills: Predicting how much starters will play in preseason
By Theo Bachman
How much should fans expect to see the starters for the Buffalo Bills against the Detroit Lions?
Under the old four game preseason format, we had years of data that made it relatively easy for us to predict how much the starters would play in any given preseason game. Across the league, the starters played increasingly more from Week 1 to Week 3 of the preseason and then got almost no time at all in the final week. The final week’s rest was to give the starters a rest before the start of the season while also giving the fringe roster guys a chance to make one last impression on coaches before final cut day.
In 2019 across the NFL, starters played 11.9% of the snaps in Week 1, 18% in Week 2, 23.6% in Week 3, and 1.7% in Week 4. These numbers are way down from 2010 when starters were playing 24% and 33% in Weeks 1 and 2 and then almost 50% of the snaps in Week 3.
After not having a preseason at all in 2020, the preseason is back in 2021 but has been modified down to three games to accommodate the new 17 game regular season. With the new length, it will be interesting to see how coaches handle each game. They may still want to use the final game to let players fight for the final roster spots which would mean they would give the starters more time to catch up to game speed in games 1 and 2.
Let’s take a closer look at what the snaps might be for the offense and defense for the Buffalo Bills this preseason.