As much as the football world and even many of their most ardent fans would snicker at the thought, the Buffalo Bills aren’t out of the playoff hunt.
To pull off an improbable feat, the Bills are acting as though their postseason already has begun.
“We started this talk a few weeks back,” Bills safety and captain George Wilson said. “This is our playoffs right now.
“The mindset of our team is ‘Win or go home.’ Everybody in the locker room is aware of the situation. That’s been our approach.”
The Bills have a wonderful opportunity Sunday, when they will play the Indianapolis Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium. To end the NFL’s longest active playoff drought this season, the Bills will need to catch the Colts in the standings.
“This is a team that’s in front of us that we can move a game closer to overcoming in the playoff picture,” Wilson said. “We’re fortunate to be facing one of those teams, and we must take advantage of the opportunity.”
If the season ended today, then the Bills would be two games out of the playoffs (not counting tiebreakers). The 6-4 Colts would get the first wild-card berth as the fifth seed. The 6-4 Pittsburgh Steelers would have the other wild-card spot as the sixth seed.
NFL.com doesn’t even bother listing the Bills among its four AFC “teams in the hunt” even though three of them have the same 4-6 record as the Bills. The problem is that two of those 4-6 teams, the New York Jets and the Tennessee Titans, have beaten the Bills already.
The San Diego Chargers are the other 4-6 team on NFL.com’s watch list along with the 5-5 Cincinnati Bengals. The Bills don’t play either of them this year.
But the Bills have the chance to make up considerable ground over their final six games.
The Bills can enter the wild-card mix by beating the Colts on Sunday, and would have an even more legitimate chance if the Steelers slipped. The Steelers are down to third-string quarterback Charlie Batch because their offensive line offered up Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich to the sack gods.
The Bills also will get another crack at the Jets in the regular-season finale, a game that could have do-or-die implications for both teams.
“We’re in it. I feel in it until they tell us otherwise,” Wilson said. “I did a little scoreboard watching [Sunday], but not too much because my focus is more on us and what we do.
“As long as we continue to stack these wins, we’ve got to do out part. Hopefully, we get some help where it’s needed and we can get our ticket punched. But my main focus is what we’re doing.”
The Bills are sticking with their one-game-at-a-time mantra, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead without their permission.
The Bills’ remaining six opponents have a combined 24-35-1 record, and only two of them are true road games.
The Bills will host the 1-9 Jacksonville Jaguars Dec. 2, host the 3-6-1 St. Louis Rams, play the 6-4 Seattle Seahawks in Toronto, visit the 4-6 Miami Dolphins and host the 4-6 Jets in the season finale on Dec. 30.
“If we want to get to the playoffs every team that we play from here on out is pretty much going to be on course to be in the way,” Bills running back C.J. Spiller said. “So we’ve just got to take it one game at a time.
“We know that each week is tough, and it’s no exception this week. In order to give yourself a chance to win, you have to have a great week of preparation. I have all the confidence in the world that our guys will have a great week this week leading up to the game.”