The last time the Buffalo Bills played a meaningful game this late into a season, they were 7-6 and playing a road game (in the midst of a blizzard) against the 8-5 Cleveland Browns. That game was played on December 16, 2007. They lost that game by the lame final of 8-0 - eight to nothing! - and haven't seriously contended for the playoffs since.
A win today, however, would change that. Buffalo is 7-5 heading into the final month of the season, and though they're going to need a lot of help - and some hugely unexpected wins - to end their 14-year playoff drought, they remain squarely in the thick of things as the December schedule begins. For a team that has just won seven games in a season for the first time since 2008, it's a refreshing change of pace.
Buffalo's brutal December stretch starts today, on the road, against Peyton Manning and the 9-3 Denver Broncos, and everyone in the entire damn civilized world, but for a few savory (and perhaps delusional) souls in Western New York, is expecting the Broncos to win. But let's forget about expectations for a minute, and talk instead about meaning.
These 7-5 Bills are frustrating, but only because fans can see the potential for a truly excellent team, game in and game out. Buffalo has not been excellent this season, but they are pretty good, particularly on defense - and it's not at all inconceivable that they can put it all together for one game and pull off the unexpected. Buffalo's postseason odds are long, but a win would do more for the organization than any other win they've posted this millennium. They have a shot to prove they belong today.
Here's your open thread for the first half. Go Bills.