When the Bills left London with a painful AFC conference loss to Jacksonville they felt they had dug themselves a pretty deep hole. The bye week however, painted a much brighter picture for the team's playoff hopes as they resume play in Week 9 against division rival Miami.
Currently a 4-3 record holds the final AFC Wild Card spot leaving the Bills a game back at 3-4. Sitting just outside the AFC playoff picture and coming off a week of rest had Buffalo energized coming back to practice this week.
"I thought the energy was great and we know where our record stands at 3-4 and we have a lot of football left to play," said Eric Wood. "The Wild Card sits at 4-3 right now so we're not out of it by any stretch. So we're excited to get some guys back and show what we're all about."
The team has been buoyed by the improved health of the team coming off the bye with a handful of offensive players set to return to the lineup. But head coach Rex Ryan chose to focus more on the fact that the opportunity to be part of the 2015 postseason remains very realistic for the Bills.
"He put everything in perspective for us and laid out the playoff picture and how we are right in the middle of it," said Richie Incognito of Ryan. "We have everything out there that we set out to do. Our number one goal has been to make the playoffs. So it's out there. We have nine weeks to prove that we're worthy of it. We have nine weeks to come together and give everything we have to make the playoffs."
The team knows they've got some fixes to make in all three phases of their game, but the balance of the roster believes it's mainly about eliminating self-inflicted setbacks.
"We've looked great at times and terrible at times," Wood said. "And a lot of the times we've looked terrible we've had penalties and missed assignments. When we correct those we can be a lot more efficient and a lot more successful."
As much as the results of the first seven games fell short of expectations the players made an honest self-assessment of their collective play during the bye. They know it wasn't good enough, but they're committed to improving to give themselves the best chance possible to be part of the playoff picture at season's end instead of a spectator for it.
"We can play better football and there's more to be done," said Incognito. "We're looking forward. We've got nine weeks to do everything we set out to do at training camp. Everything is still out in front of us. We've got to rally together and put a good nine weeks together and get as many wins as possible."