The Bills have eight games to perform a dramatic turnaround and avoid missing the NFL playoffs for a 10th consecutive season. In the process, they'll discover if a quarterback they can consistently win with is on their roster.
A month after suffering his second concussion in a year, Trent Edwards is expected to return to the starting lineup when Buffalo plays at Tennessee on Sunday.
"I feel I'm getting better each day, getting stronger and just pretty happy with my progress right now," Edwards said.
If only the Bills felt that way about his overall play.
Before his injury, Edwards was struggling badly playing behind a young offensive line and trying to handle the nuances of a no-huddle attack that has since been scrapped by the coaches.
Edwards completed fewer than 60 percent of his throws with five touchdowns, six interceptions, 19 sacks and a 73 rating. The Bills were 1-4 with him under center.
Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick won two games in relief (he came off the bench early against the New York Jets), but any shot he had of wrestling the starting job away fizzled in a 31-10 loss to Houston. He has compiled a 57.8 rating.
Edwards, a third-round pick in 2007, enters the final year of his contract next season but hasn't played well enough to warrant an extension before he reaches free agency.
He's been injury prone, missing eight starts overall, and many wonder how he'll respond after his second head injury.
After getting knocked out of a game at Arizona in 2008, Edwards played very well in a win over San Diego but has mostly struggled ever since, leading critics to wonder if he ever got over his first concussion.
In 13 games that he started and finished since that Chargers game, he has thrown 11 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions, been sacked 30 times and has posted single-game ratings above 100 only three times. His record: 3-10.
--RB Marshawn Lynch needs 52 yards to tie Greg Bell (2,420) for 11th on the team's career rushing list. He's just 92 yards behind No. 10 Kenneth Davis. Lynch is averaging 3.1 yards per carry since his return from a three-game suspension.
--TE Shawn Nelson, who has missed two games due to migraine headaches, is showing improvement but hasn't been cleared for any contact. Nelson has a history of headaches and believes his condition is hereditary. The Bills' 28th-ranked passing game desperately needs a tight end presence that has been lacking.
--OT Jonathan Scott, who has missed three starts with an ankle sprain, could return to the lineup Sunday at Tennessee. He is practicing fully. The team has fielded four different right tackles this season.
--CB Jairus Byrd, who has seven interceptions, is closing in on the team single-season record of 10. That was established by Billy Atkins in 1961 and tied by Tom Janik in 1967.
--DT Marcus Stroud has 2.5 sacks this year and 27.0 for his career. Houston's Matt Schaub became the 20th different quarterback sacked by Stroud in his last outing. Stroud's teams are 15-10 when he participates in a sack.
--K Rian Lindell, who is 13 of 15 this season on field goals, is 47th on the NFL's career scoring list with 948 points. He moved ahead of Chris Jacke (944) in his last outing.