Perfect 5-year model

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

For years, the Bills received little, if any, national primetime TV exposure.

Now, with three straight NFL playoff appearances after a 17-year drought, the league has recognized the value of the team’s drawing power on TV.

When the schedule was released last week, the Bills have the maximum five primetime TV appearances, plus a Thanksgiving game and a key rivalry game on a doubleheader day — all national games.

Circle these dates for the Bills’ most notable national TV games:

■ Sept. 8 — at defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m.

■ Sept. 19 — Tennessee in Buffalo’s home opener, 7:15 p.m.

■ Oct. 16 — at Kansas City, where each of Buffalo’s past two seasons have bitterly ended, 4:25 p.m.

■ Oct. 30 — Green Bay at home, 8:20 p.m.

■ Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving) — at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.

■ Dec. 1 — at AFC East Division rival New England, 8:15 p.m.

■ Jan. 2 — at Super Bowl finalist Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m.

That’s a nice piece of viewing exposure for a franchise that used to never get a stiff of primetime exposure.

The Bills’ early afternoon game on Thanksgiving Day marks the third time — Buffalo previously played at Dallas and at New Orleans in 2019 and 2021, respectively — in four seasons the team will be playing on Turkey Day, all on the road. Before this run, Buffalo went 25 years without a Thanksgiving game.

■ Prediction: With the season opener three-plus months away, it’s too early to make any hardcore prognostication but the Bills should handily win the AFC East with a 12-5 record. Last season, a road loss to woeful Jacksonville cost Buffalo an extra home game in the playoffs and that played a part in its undoing. This season, the Bills can’t afford stumbles in contests at the Jets, Lions and Bears — games where they will be favorites.

■ Other schedule insights and key games to watch this season: With QB Russell Wilson now in Denver, the league put an emphasis on the Broncos, with four of their first six games on national TV, with the opponents including the Seahawks (his former team), 49ers, Colts and Chargers. ... Notable national TV matchups also include the Packers at Bucs, Week 3; Jaguars at Eagles, Week 4; Chiefs at Bengals, Week 13; Rams at Chargers, Week 17; and Browns at Steelers, Week 18.

■ Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in MLB: 1. Yankees; 2. Astros; 3. Mets; 4. Dodgers; 5. Angels; 6. Brewers; 7. Padres; 8. Giants; 9. Rays; 10. Twins.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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