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Bills Today: ESPN's Bill Barnwell believes Buffalo's playoff chances have improved for these reasons


1. ESPN's Bill Barnwell believes Buffalo's playoff chances have improved for these reasons

The Buffalo Bills began the preseason with an 18.2% chance to make the playoffs. Now just hours away from Week 7 kickoff the Bills have a 77.3% chance, a 59.1% jump and the second largest jump in the NFL.

ESPN's Bill Barnwell broke it down in his latest column.

The Bills are in about as good of a shape as any team with little shot of winning its division can be after six weeks. Although they lost to the Patriots in a 16-10 nail-biter, they are the only one-loss team in the AFC. Their wins have come against teams that are a combined 5-18, and three of those four victories were by seven points or fewer, but the Bills are also about to play the Dolphins at home. They probably will start 5-1, and since the league went to its current structure in 2002, teams that have started the season 5-1 have made the playoffs nearly 79% of the time.

The only other team in the NFL whose chances increased more are the San Francisco 49ers with a 63.3% jump.

One main reason for Buffalo's playoff chance increase is the rest of the season schedule. The Bills have the sixth-easiest schedule already played and will face the second-easiest run of opponents over the final 11 games.

Not to mention, Buffalo's defense.

The Bills also have the sort of defense that will help them steal more competitive games too. They nearly took one from the Patriots, given that the margin of victory was a blocked punt the Pats returned for a touchdown. The Bills rank second in the league behind the Patriots in points allowed per drive (0.92), percentage of drives ending in a score (15%) and yards allowed per pass attempt (5.5).

2. CBS analyst and former Bill James Lofton is impressed by McDermott and the Bills

James Lofton played for the Buffalo Bills from 1989-1992 where he caught 151 passes for 2,736 tards and 21 touchdowns. Lofton will be back in Buffalo today as the analyst for CBS Sports broadcast of the game. Lofton knows what winning looks like in Buffalo and is a fan of the team's 4-1 start.

"I think it starts at the top, with Sean McDermott," Lofton told The Buffalo News. "He fits Buffalo. Everybody talks about blue-collar towns. There's really no more blue-collar anymore in America, but Buffalo is pretty close to being blue-collar. And he's like that. But he's also able to relate to his players.

"When they were signing guys, he was looking for a certain type of player that he wanted, somebody that would put the team first. And I think they've been able to accomplish that and they've really been able to accomplish it with their young quarterback, Josh Allen, a guy who puts the team first."

Lofton won't be on the sidelines and the weather won't be too cold in Orchard Park today but he still remembers those kind of days during his Bills tenure.

"… Marv Levy would say, 'When it's too cold for them, it's just right for us.' I think about that so often as I'm calling games and I'm watching guys who are shivering or who are overdressed. That was our mantra," Lofton said.

As the Bills prepare to play on the road against the Miami Dolphins, scroll through to view photos from previous matchups between the two opponents.

3. Miami will miss key contributors on gameday

The Dolphins will be without three starters today, center Daniel Kilgore, safety Reshad Jones and defensive end Avery Moss were all declared out for the game on Friday.

Miami cornerback Xavien Howard and wide receiver Jakeem Grant each missed the Dolphins Week 6 game against the Redskins and were limited in practice throughout the week leaving their status as questionable.

Three Bills are listed as questionable – linebackers Matt Milano and Corey Thompson and cornerback Taron Johnson.

Buffalo should see the return of running back Devin Singletary and the debut of tight end Tyler Kroft who were both not listed on Friday's injury report.

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