Buffalo-bound Owens should bring interesting dynamic to AFC East
NFL defenses will have to pick their WR poison with Terrell Owens and Lee Evans
RB Marshawn Lynch stands to greatly benefit from T.O.'s on-field presence
How does this affect the Bills?
The acquisition of Terrell Owens significantly upgrades the Bills' offense. The six-time Pro Bowler gives the team a legitimate receiving threat opposite Lee Evans in the lineup. With Owens and Evans capable of winning one-on-one matchups, defensive coordinators will have to pick and choose which side to roll coverage. Evans has started to command double teams in coverage due to his big-play ability, but Owens' presence on the other side gives Buffalo another weapon to rely on against the rolled coverage.
In addition, Owens' ability to pile up Yards After Catch allows the Bills to feature a short passing game that perfectly suits quarterback Trent Edwards. While Evans is one of the league's most dangerous vertical playmakers, he lacks the size and toughness to do the dirty work over the middle of the field. Owens, however, excels at running crossing routes between the hashes and will be the big target that Edwards has needed the last two seasons. Furthermore, Owens' proclivity for putting the ball in the paint (38 touchdowns in the past three seasons) is desperately needed by a Bills offense that only generated 14 passing TDs in 2008.
While much of the attention will be focused on Owens' impact in the passing game, he'll also provide a big boost for the Bills' rushing attack. Marshawn Lynch has topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first two seasons, but he will find even more running room with Owens on the field. Defensive coordinators will be reluctant to extensively use eight-man fronts, for fear of Evans or Owens exploiting the one-on-one coverage on the outside. With defenses in more two-deep coverage (seven-man front) against the Bills' base formations, Lynch should find plenty of run on cutback runs between the tackles. The third-year pro has averaged 4.1 yards throughout his career, but that number should jump to 4.5 or higher, as he breaks off more big runs than he had in the past (11 runs over 20 yards in his two-year career).
How does this affect the AFC?
The Bills have improved an offense that ranked in the bottom tier in the league in several categories. However, the AFC East is poised to be one of the league's most competitive divisions, and the Bills will be hard-pressed to overtake the Patriots and Dolphins for the division crown. A playoff appearance may be in their future, but the team will need all of the chips to fall into place to make the postseason for the first time since 1999.
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