Bills head north with playoff hopes pointing south Print
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Thursday, 04 December 2008 12:35
NFL Headline News

 TORONTO (AP) -George Wilson didn't get all the answers right on the Canadian pop culture quiz several Bills players were given leading up to Buffalo playing its first regular-season game north of the border.
The safety knew ``loonie'' was the nickname for the Canadian dollar coin, but missed on identifying the prime minister (Stephen Harper) and failed to provide the second line to the country's national anthem.
Trivia aside, Wilson very much knows the answer to the most important question facing the slumping Bills (6-6) as they prepare to host the resurgent Miami Dolphins (7-5) at Toronto's Rogers Centre on Sunday.
``Four,'' Wilson said without hesitation, when asked how many of its four remaining games Buffalo needs to win to keep alive its already slim playoff hopes. ``We need all four of these, and it starts with this one right here. The three that come after this game don't even matter if we don't get this one this week.''
t's a clear indication how far the Bills have fallen as a result of a midseason meltdown. They've dropped five of six and find themselves on the verge of missing the playoffs for a ninth consecutive year.
What might be an even bigger surprise is how much better the Dolphins are playing, having won five of six to find themselves in a tightly contested AFC East race.
In rebounding from last year's bumbling 1-15 record, the Dolphins need to win their four remaining games, including a finale at the New York Jets, to clinch the division title and their first playoff berth since 2001.
``We know what kind of position we're in,'' Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell said. ``We know what we can get done if we go out and handle business these last couple of weeks. ... I guess there would be pressure if you thought of it that way, but we just think of it as taking it game by game.''
The international setting is the result of the Bills securing a five-year deal in which they'll be paid $78 million to play eight games, including three preseason, in Canada's largest city and financial capital. In becoming the NFL's first team to play annual regular-season games outside the United States, the Bills hope to generate additional revenue by expanding their market a two-hour drive north of the border.
time franchise to the continent's fifth-largest market. Those long-term plans are now uncertain after Ted Rogers, the communications company founder and the financial driving force behind the series, died on Tuesday.
Timbuktu or Toronto, the site doesn't matter as everything else - from the debate over the warm-weather Dolphins getting an edge by playing indoors to fears about the Bills potentially relocating north - have been rendered secondary in a game that amounts to a must-win showdown between two longtime rivals.
``Desperation? I wouldn't say desperation,'' Bills defensive tackle Marcus Stroud said. ``Urgency, yes.''
Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown doesn't find it difficult in maintaining his focus.
``It's easy,'' Brown said. ``If you lose this game, then all the other stuff is out the window.''
The Dolphins have suddenly become what the Bills were when Buffalo got off to a 5-1 start this season: the NFL's feel-good story, a proud franchise that had fallen on hard times and again is showing signs of life.
Miami's revival began with the offseason arrival of Bill Parcells, who took over as the team's executive vice president of football operations. Then came the hiring of coach Tony Sparano, who has coaxed much from a ragtag lineup while placing an imaginative touch on the team by introducing the Wildcat offense to its playbook.
veteran quarterback in Chad Pennington and a stout, Joey Porter-led defense, has provided the Dolphins a new outlook.
``Sure, we're excited about the position we're in,'' Pennington said. ``If you can't get excited about that, like coach Sparano said, `You don't have a pulse.'''
The Bills' playoff hopes, by comparison, are on life support.
Their slide began with a 25-16 loss at Miami on Oct. 26, and the spiral reached a new low with a 10-3 home loss to San Francisco last weekend.
Quarterback Trent Edwards' status is uncertain because of a groin injury. And that means the Bills' hopes might well rest with backup J.P. Losman, who would be making his first start in more than a year.
``The playoffs basically start now for us. No one's really talking about one game at a time,'' Losman said. ``In this case, we need to play this game like it's four games on the line.''
 

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