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Bills in good position heading into bye week

I know.  You're all still mad, distraught and a bit nervous after the Buffalo Bills got blown out in Arizona yesterday.  I get that.  We'll talk more about that game tomorrow in our usual film sessions.  If you're looking to vent, there are plenty of other places on this blog alone to do just that.

But can we please get a little perspective here?  The Bills are 4-1, remain in sole possession of first place in the AFC East, and are still on track to end their eight-year playoff drought.  Yeah, the team has some weaknesses that have been exposed of late - but the Bills aren't the only team with that issue by a long shot.  Take a look around you before you freak out - the Bills are very much alive and well.

Remainder of the schedule
Let's delete any notion that the remainder of Buffalo's schedule is "easy" - it's not.  But it is easier than the schedules that a lot of our AFC foes face, to be certain.  Games like Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to play), Cleveland and San Francisco are probably the safest bets in terms of wins.  But the ascent of teams like the Dolphins and Broncos, and the presence of the Patriots and that Favre guy, means nothing is certain.

Yet there aren't any games remaining on Buffalo's schedule that the team can't win.  Without looking at the team itself - we'll do that momentarily - the Bills' playoff chances are still incredibly legitimate, as are their chances at a division crown.  They must win their home games, and they must stay near .500 on the road - both are achievable goals.  In a worst-case scenario (assuming the health of the players), 7-1 at home, 3-5 on the road, and 10-6 overall seems likely.  In a diluted AFC pool, that's a playoff team.  I still believe that, at full strength, the Bills are better than 10-6.  So don't jump ship yet.

Health of Edwards is paramount
We're all well aware of some of the shortcomings that the Bills have displayed - the quickest three off the top of my head are slow starts, poor offensive line play and the lack of a consistent pass rush.  The personnel is there to fix these problems; the Bills have two weeks to place their emphasis on improving in these areas - and it's obvious that they need to do just that.

Fundamentally, however, the Bills are still strong in areas that good football teams need to be strong in.  Their offensive play-calling has been (mostly) excellent.  They're still very adept at stopping the run.  Their special teams, while lacking in big plays since Week 1 with Roscoe Parrish injured, haven't been making mistakes.  They're still the most well-balanced team in the division, and their weak areas can be improved upon.  It's going to come down to coaching, and there's reason to have faith in this coaching staff.

None of it will matter, however, unless Trent Edwards is healthy.  The Bills became a different team yesterday when Edwards left the game after three plays with a concussion - they looked like a team that had just lost its leader, and they played like it.  Edwards' loss hurt on more levels than just the playing field - he's quite clearly the heart and soul of this Bills team.  The Bills need to find a way to keep him healthy; when Edwards is on the field, Buffalo can beat any team in this league.  From what Dick Jauron said after yesterday's loss, Edwards wasn't feeling great, but his outlook looks promising for the Chargers game.

The bottom line
Bad things happen on occasion in the NFL.  Those bad things snowballed into one afternoon for the Bills - they lost their starting quarterback, their free safety, and ran into a tough Cardinals team coming off of an embarrassing loss.  The Buffalo Bills you watched yesterday aren't the same team that you'll see for the rest of the season.  Yes, their play was awful, and it deserves to be criticized.  Just don't expect to see those Bills as often as we see the Bills that showed up in the first four games.

Man up.  Tough losses happen in this league, and we need to take it on the chin as a fan base.  These Bills aren't fickle, and we shouldn't be either.  They're going to respond - and while we anxiously wait for them to do so, understand that they're still in a great position to have a highly successful 2008 season.