While the Bills try to move in for the kill and capture their first AFC East title in eight seasons, the media and fans are ready to do some pouncing of their own. Five weeks before the end of the National Football League's regular season, Bills mania is picking up momentum. An ever-increasing number of news- gathering organizations will have repre sentatives at Rich Stadium Sunday to document what could be the clinching of the division title./
That, of course, depends on whether Buffalo can defeat the New York Jets for the second time this season. And, Bills fans are waiting to purchase tickets for the playoffs, or, looking farther down the road, tickets for Super Bowl XXIII in Miami's Joe Robbie Stadium on Jan. 22. Should the Bills win, it's most likely they will be the hosts for an AFC divisional playoff game on Saturday, Dec. 31 or Sunday, Jan. 1. Sports Illustrated, which ran a major piece two weeks ago on Bills veteran nose tackle Fred Smerlas, will have five pho tographers at Sunday's game. Writer Wil liam Nack has been in town for three days interviewing coach Marv Levy, Gen eral Manager Bill Polian, Owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. and Buffalo players. Time and Newsweek will have photog raphers at the game. Gary Myers, NFL beat writer of the Dallas Morning News, was the latest out-of-town daily newspa per writer to visit Rich Stadium to pre pare a feature article on the Bills. NBC News is sending a camera crew and reporter. The Bills are getting international me dia attention, too. Friday, Levy was interviewed on radio by the British Broadcasting Co. Austra lian radio interviewed quarterback Jim Kelly. A television crew for London's Chan nel 4 will be here to capture highlights of Sunday's game and post-game interviews with players for the weekly NFL High light show that is aired in the British Isles. John Smith, the former New Eng land Patriots kicker, is the host for the show. Though the Canadian Football League is in the midst of its post-season playoffs, the Bills are getting plenty of attention in Toronto. Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun has been covering games here and even has been sent on the road with the See Bills: Page B-6, Column 5 Bills Continued from Page B-1 team for some games. The Toron to Star also will have a reporter at Sunday's game. Late Friday afternoon, Dave Senko, the Bills media relations director, still was dealing with re quests for press and photo creden tials. Debbie Gang, the Bills' recep tionist, did her best to juggle calls coming into the stadium switch board, which usually was jammed. "Most of the calls are about play off tickets," she said. The Bills haven't detailed their policy for the sale of playoff tick ets, but have received permission from the NFL to start selling tick ets. A letter to season ticket hold ers, with order blanks and instruc tions enclosed, is expected to go out next week. Meanwhile, the stadium and se curity staff were busy preparing for the Sunday's sellout crowd (80,290) and what might happen should the Bills clinch. Polian at tended a series of meetings with staff members, going over contin gency security measures and other preparations. The hope is that any celebrating won't get out of hand. Buffalo sports fans haven't had the opportunity to celebrate the clinching of any major sports championship since the Bills won the AFC East championship in 1980. Naturally, the Bills' exploits have inspired new souvenir items. There are novelty items available celebrating the success of the Bills, particularly the "Jaws" defense. The Miami University of Ohio band played music from the soundtrack of the movie "Jaws" as kickoff approached during a game here last month. The fans liked it and it has caught on as theme music for Bruce Smith, Cornelius Bennett, Shane Conlan and the rest of the defense. Sweatshirts de picting a Bills helmet bristling with shark-like teeth ready to clamp down on the Patriots, Dol phins, Jets and Colts have been printed with the words: "Let's do lunch." Dr. Don Corder of Fredonia, an avid Bills fan, has hired a plane to fly over the stadium, trailing a sign reading: BILLS -- The Real America's Team. Are the Bills themselves plan ning any celebration should they win their seventh straight and cap ture the division title? Well, there's no champagne stashed in a dark corner of the stadium. That's a baseball tradition, anyway. NFL rules prohibit alcoholic beverages in the locker room. Lately, most of the Bills have done their post-game celebrating at the home of one of the players. That's presumably where they will let their hair down -- if there is any celebrating to be done. Rookie running back Thurman Thomas probably will start Sun day after sitting out the victory at Miami Monday night. "Thurman is fine," Levy said after Friday afternoon's practice in Rich Stadium. Wide receiver Chris Burkett and guard Tim Vogler did not practice again. It's likely Trumaine Johnson will start again in Burkett's spot. If Burkett isn't able to play, Flip Johnson will be the third receiver in shotgun situations. Vogler is expected to be ready. The Bills' college scouting staff began arriving for weekend meet ings to go over the talent coming out for the 1989 NFL draft and to see Sunday's game. For the second year in a row, the wives of the scouts were invited as guests of the team.