Tyler Dunne: J.P. Losman probably put that best at his press conference this week. He said the "one game at a time" cliché doesn't apply to Buffalo. It's deeper. Something he called, "four games at a time." The Bills must run the table to have any kind of shot at the playoffs.
Such a numbing reality has reverberated. Nobody is cashing in on the season yet, of course. But the cloak of invincibility that 5-1 start generated has definitely faded. Desperation has replaced swagger with each loss. Early in the season, the Bills operated on confidence. Fourth-quarter comeback wins against Jacksonville, Oakland and St. Louis gave this team an us-and-the-world sense of confidence. Well, that's gone now. Narrow defeats to league doormats San Francisco and Cleveland have quieted the team. They know what's on the line.
As Losman said, "the playoffs start now for us."
Q: What kind of home-field advantage, if any, would you anticipate the Bills having with the game being played in Toronto?
TD: I don't think they'll have any sort of advantage. Sunday will mark the first-ever home indoor game in Buffalo's history. To Bills fans, the essence of the Bills-Dolphins rival has always been seeing the warm-weather Fins crumble in blizzards and frigid wind chills. Buffalo has defended home turf in its last four games against Miami, including two blowouts in the December chill the past two years.
Not so much this year. Weather won't be a factor, unless players get frostbitten on the walk from the team bus to the stadium. Both teams are playing in unfamiliar confines. Yeah, the Bills played a preseason game in Toronto this year, but it's hardly a home away from home. Don't expect a legion of blood-thirsty Bills fans. Officials will be on high patrol for unauthorized tailgating (fans can only attend an official Budweiser Tailgating Party). To Toronto, tailgating is equivalent "to someone who cuts you off on the 401 or who won't move out of the fast lane," as one Toronto Star writer put in August. I'd anticipate an awkward feeling of resentment from the Bills' Western New York base and half-hearted appreciation from the Torontonians.
Q: What is your prediction, and why?
TD: Judging by sheer momentum, you have to go with Miami. Buffalo failed to build on its blowout against Kansas City with an absolute thud against San Francisco. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are hot after winning five of their last six. With the Bills' secondary still banged up and J.P. Losman at quarterback, this game could get ugly. I'd say Miami wins a lopsided affair, 34-17, behind the strength of Chad Pennington. Now that Terrence McGee is fully healthy, Ted Ginn Jr. won't have the day he had earlier in the year. But the Dolphins have enough receiving threats to spread Buffalo out and cruise through Toronto with ease.