In order to make the playoffs this weekend, the Buffalo Bills need to beat the Miami Dolphins and need some help on the out of town scoreboard. A loss from the Baltimore Ravens or concurrent losses by the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers will get the Bills in the postseason, but all four teams play at 4:25 Eastern thanks to the NFL’s flex scheduling. That means the Bills will have to beat the Dolphins and hope for help, all at the same time.
For his part, Bills head coach Sean McDermott is taking the right approach to Sunday. He wants to keep his team focused on the one part of the situation they can control; beating the Miami Dolphins.
“I think the easiest answer to that is, really, if we don’t win it’s not going to matter,” McDermott told reporters Wednesday. “Focus on the task at hand and what’s in front of us and that means, through all the scenarios that are out there, the one common theme is ‘Bills have to win’ so we’ve got to do that first.”
But McDermott knows the team will be sneaking a peek at the out of town scoreboard when they aren’t on the field.
“We’re going to talk about it, just in terms of like I talked about here, big picture perspective,” he continued. “Hey, let’s state the obvious. I’m not going to ignore it, and then we’ll move forward and talk about our fundamentals and our mindset and us growing as a football team, just like we do every week, really.”
During the open locker room and player media availability on Wednesday, several players shared how they would be paying attention during the game, but quarterback Tyrod Taylor shared McDermott’s view.
“I probably won’t [look at the scoreboard]. It’s not that I probably won’t, I won’t look up,” said Taylor. “More so, just focused on the game because the scenarios that are out there, the best scenario is when we win. We have to focus on winning the game, and let everything else take care of itself... I won’t force myself not to look at the scoreboard, but I’m not necessarily worried about that.”
While Taylor said he’s not going to look at the scoreboard, he knows his teammates might and doesn’t think it will negatively impact their play.
“Everybody knows what’s at stake, and everyone knows we need our best performance this Sunday,” said Taylor. “We’re preparing that way, this week. As far as on game day, if you look up, or you don’t, we still have a job to do, and that’s where your focus needs to be. I believe that’s where everyone’s focus will be.”
“We’re definitely going to be focused, locked in in our game,” said guard Richie Incognito, echoing his quarterback. “The scores are pretty accessible, in the stadium you can see them. But that doesn’t take us out of our game. We still have to go out there and produce and finish. Being this close with this group, and knowing the history and all that, I know our guys will respond the right way.”
Bills captain Eric Wood agrees with Incognito and knows guys will be looking at the scoreboard, too.
“Yeah, you have to stay focused and avoid it. I’d be naïve to say that I probably won’t glance up there at some point,” said Wood. “In every NFL stadium, they’re projecting those scores pretty good. Mentally, you can’t let it affect you one way or the other. Games can swing one way or the other. Like I said, we have to focus on beating a good Miami football team, super talented team.”
Running back LeSean McCoy and linebacker Preston Brown took a different approach, discussing a specific game during his Q&A with the media. The Cincinnati Bengals are playing the Baltimore Ravens, one of the teams Buffalo is trying to pass.
“Around the league, I know a lot of people on the Bengals, so I try to talk to them to see what they have going on,” said Brown.
“You’re playing and you have one thought in mind and say ‘hey, we’ve got to win.’ Anything can happen on the other side,” noted McCoy. “We’re all playing together. You’re not playing a game and then scoreboard watching. Sometimes, I get caught up in looking at scoreboards during the game or looking at rushing yards during a game. We could just focus on winning this one game and our minds think that, ‘okay, Baltimore has lost.’ From there on, you can just play the game.”