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Mario Williams and Other Reasons the Buffalo Bills will make noise in the AFC East in 2012

Mario Williams will leave the Texans and Join the Buffalo Bills this season. Photo by: Zumapress/Icon SMI

When it comes to garnering headlines the The Buffalo Bills have been one of the NFL's quietest teams of late. Unlike the New York Jets, win or loose Buffalo rarely generates much national buzz.

There's a lot of reasons for that: they play in a small market and they have an unassuming, un-flashy (but solidly producing) quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick. They haven't been to the playoffs in 13 years and for most of that time they've been the picture of mediocrity not playing well enough or poor enough to draw notice outside their fan base. Last year they started strong and won an impressive early victory over the New England Patriots. Bills fans got excited people around the NFL took notice, but it proved nothing but a tease – the Bills soon stalled and they finished the season with an unspectacular 6-10 record.

But for Bills fans there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The Bills have had one of the best off seasons in the AFC East. The Miami Dolphins set about dismantling their roster (getting rid of great players such as pro bowl receiver Brandon Marshall). The Patriots continue to get older without adding enough young talent. The Jets got a lot of headlines by signing Tim Tebow as a back-up quarterback but they haven't made any major changes to their 2011 roster. Meanwhile the Bills have been quietly stock piling an arsenal of talent that is poised to wreak havoc on the NFL and possibly shift the balance of power within the AFC East next season. First they pulled off a major coup by signing two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams – who may have been the most coveted defense player on the free agent market. On top of that they signed former defensive end Mark Anderson, who logged 10 sacks last season. With Anderson complimenting Williams, the Bills pass rush – which was almost non existent last season – is set to be amongst the most formidable in the NFL this year.

On the offensive end the Bills were able retain their number one receiver Steve Johnson as well as their starting tight end Scott Chandler. With their running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller healthy the Bills offense promises to see strong improvement in 2012.

On top of that the Bills have a top 10 draft pick and plenty of salary cap room, so it's likely they still will improve before the season opens. I don't think they'll challenge the Patriots for the AFC East crown but with a reinvigorated defense and a slightly improved offense they could seriously give the Jets a run for their money as the division's runner up. No matter what happens the Bills are poised to make some noise in 2012.

What do you think? Will the Bills be a force in the AFC East this year?