1. What the coaches say about sitting vs. playing in Week 17?
By locking in the fifth seed wild card spot in the AFC playoffs this past weekend, the Bills coaching staff will decide on whether to play or rest certain players in the final regular season game. A win or loss versus the Jets matters when it comes to the record, but the outcome of the game will not affect the Bills regarding playoff scenarios. Sean McDermott said the team will continue the discussion as players report tomorrow.
"There's certainly a lot of things to consider, a lot of things for Brandon (Beane) and myself to weigh," McDermott said. "Some of it's the injuries, some of it's us improving as a football team. We're still working through that and the team's not in today, they will be back tomorrow so we will continue to work through that as a team and go from there."
The injury report on Monday included: Ty Nsekhe, Mitch Morse, Shaq Lawson and Andre Roberts.
Being a part of several coaching staffs, McDermott says he has done both with teams whether it's resting or playing certain players so late in the season with a postseason appearance already secured. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll thinks the most important part about the upcoming game isn't the decision to start or sit, but to play your best football.
"That's what you need this time of year is to play good team football," Daboll said. "That might change week-to-week with different strategies and circumstances. So, the time off, or where you play, or when you play, or all that—it's really about coaching well and playing well. That's what wins this time of year."
No matter the choice, McDermott knows it will be the right one for his team.
"I'm confident that we'll have the right plan this week," McDermott said.
2. How the Bills plan to balance game prep for Jets and playoffs
With the playoffs approaching quickly, Buffalo's likely opponent is either Kansas City or Houston. The Bills will not know until Sunday night, but McDermott said specific coaches will work ahead to prepare for both opponents.
"We'll try and do work on both teams, so we're ready to go," McDermott explained. "We want to focus on this week as well. Certain coaches are dedicated to the advanced teams as well, so we'll be ready to go for whatever scenario comes up whether it's a Sunday game, Saturday game. We've got to be ready to go."
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier explained for him, it's more important to make sure that the defense has their mind set on the Jets and not what's ahead.
"There are some other things we want to get done as a defense," Frazier said. "So coming back to practice tomorrow, it's important that our frame of mind is correct. That's what I want to focus on with our guys. For me, looking at Houston or Kansas City, that's not on my radar right now. It's really about making sure our guys are in the right frame of mind as we approach this Jets game on Sunday."
3. Week 1 to Week 17: How the Bills have evolved
It's unique that the Bills get to face the Jets in Week 1, as well as the final game of the regular season in Week 17. Coaches usually don't like to spend too much time reflecting in the middle of the season, but McDermott explained when you play a team the first week and then the last week, you almost have to reflect.
"I think about that game and I think about where we grew within that game and how we've grown since that time," McDermott said. "You look at the highs and you look at the lows. You say hey we've had some really high, highs and we've had some challenges."
Against the Jets in the first week of the season, the Bills won by a point coming from behind scoring 17 unanswered points. McDermott says in the hardships from the beginning of the season until now is where the team has grown a lot.
"Even in the challenges you look at how the team has fought," McDermott said. "In four of the five losses it's been down to the last possession and we've had a chance to go in and tie it or win it on the last possession, so there's a lot of good to that. We've made a lot of progress to get us to where we are throughout the course of one season."