The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

November 22, 2013

OPINION: Bills playoff chances merit some consideration

By Kevin Prise
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

LOCKPORT —

I know, the Bills are 4-7 and in third-last place in the AFC. EJ Manuel has been rocky at best, even though he outplayed fellow rookie Geno Smith in last week's win over the Jets.

But I'm not ready to count the Bills out of the playoff race yet.

Why? Looking at the muddled middle class of the conference, there just isn't any team that appears destined to take the second wild-card slot. New England will certainly win the AFC East, and either Kansas City or Denver will earn the first wild card.

But other than that, who's to say Buffalo can't run the table, finish 9-7 and sneak into the playoffs for the first time since Music City Miracle? For one thing, the Bills have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league, playing Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville before hosting Miami in a Dec. 22 game that has "Let it Snow" music written all over it. 

From there, the Bills travel to Foxboro, where the Patriots should have the division wrapped up and could look to give Tom Brady some rest.

It's all incredibly optimistic, I know. But take a look at the rest of the AFC, and it's easy to see how 9-7 gets in. The No. 6 seed is currently at 5-5, co-shared by the inconsistent Jets and the Incognito-marred Dolphins. Other than that, it's between San Diego, Cleveland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Oakland and Tennessee, all at 4-6. And the Bills.

The Jets play the Ravens this week, and Miami takes on Carolina. If both divisional foes lose, the Bills will be — incredibly — just a game back of a playoff spot with five winnable games remaining.

At the very least, it's a reason to stay interested for another week. It's not like the Sabres' chances are any better.

Follow J-R sports editor Kevin Prise on Twitter at @MedinaJR_Kevin.