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NFL countdown: Josh Allen key to Buffalo Bills’ success

This is the 22nd in a series of 32 NFL team betting previews in 32 days leading up to the league’s Sept. 10 season opener. We’ll count down the teams from the lowest season win total to the highest.

The Buffalo Bills are favored to win the AFC East this season for the first time in 25 years.

Whether they do probably will come down to the play of third-year quarterback Josh Allen, who finished last in the NFL among starting QBs last season in completion percentage (58.8).

“On the surface, Buffalo seems like the most polished team in that division. They have a great defense and run the ball well,” Westgate vice president of risk Ed Salmons said. “It’s which Josh Allen do you get?

“He needs to mature as a player and get more accurate with his throws. If he does mature and get better, Buffalo could be a Super Bowl team.”

At least one bettor at the Westgate is a big believer in the Bills. The gambler on Thursday placed a $3,350 wager to win $100,500 on Buffalo to win the Super Bowl (30-1).

Allen rushed for 1,141 yards and 17 TDs in his first two seasons. But he also has shown poor decision making, including an ill-advised attempted lateral late in the Bills’ 22-19 playoff loss last season to the Texans.

The pieces are in place around him in NFL Coach of the Year candidate Sean McDermott (12-1), newly acquired star receiver Stefon Diggs and the league’s No. 2 returning scoring defense (16.5 points per game).

“Diggs can stretch the field and we know Allen has a big arm,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “There’s a lot of pressure on Allen to take the next step and be that elite quarterback for the Bills.”

Salmons said he leans to Buffalo going over its season win total of nine.

“Buffalo is a team built to win 10 games in the regular season because it’s in an easier division and it can take advantage of Miami and the Jets and even New England at home,” he said. “Buffalo is a tough place to play when the weather turns there in November.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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