Playoff dreams for the Buffalo Bills were broken for the ninth consecutive year on Sunday, when fans watched the last essential home game of the season end with a 10-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
This Sunday, the Bills face the Miami Dolphins in a "home" game for Buffalo, even though it is being played in Toronto. The streaking 'Phins, who have won five of their last six games, including a 25-16 triumph over the Bills in Miami on Oct. 26, will likely defeat the Bills and essentially put any playoff talks in Buffalo this year to rest. If the Bills are still mathematically alive after Sunday, they will officially be eliminated the next week against the New York Jets.
The 2008 season started out promising for the Bills, as they raced to a 4-0 start with wins against the Seahawks, Jaguars, Raiders and Rams -- teams who have a combined 11-37 record going into Week 14 action. This was enough to get Bills fans excited as Trent Edwards and Marshawn Lynch jerseys started popping up on campus.
Now, it appears that most Bills fans have put their jerseys back in their closets until next year; they started disappearing after the Bills dropped to 5-5 following a heartbreaking and embarrassing home loss to the lowly Cleveland Browns two weeks ago on Monday Night Football. After Sunday's debacle against the 49ers, there certainly haven't been many signs of Bills gear around campus.
Unfortunately for Buffalo fans, they were spoiled by a ridiculously soft schedule early in the season. When it came time for the Bills to play against some decent teams they showed their true colors as an overrated team with an overrated young quarterback in Trent Edwards who was supposed to end the team's playoff drought.
Since the Bills got off to their 5-1 start, Edwards has been horrific in each game, with the exception being Week 12's blowout win over the pathetic Kansas City Chiefs. The same fans that embraced Edwards early in the season now refer to him as "J.P. Edwards," in reference to his unpopular backup J.P. Losman. Edwards left Sunday's game with an injured groin at halftime and could only watch from the sidelines as Losman was equally ineffective.
Buffalo's management may end up treating the team with the same fair-weather attitude as its fans. Earlier in the season, when the Bills were winning, head coach Dick Jauron was reportedly given a contract extension. Apparently the deal has not been signed and front office executives could be considering whether or not to retain Jauron beyond this season. The local media is helping to put the heat on Jauron. The Democrat and Chronicle's Leo Roth suggested that in order for Jauron to keep his job, the Bills should have to win their remaining four games - Sunday's Toronto matchup against the Dolphins, followed by road games against the Jets and Broncos and a home finale against the Patriots.
It is understandable for Bills fans and the media to be frustrated: nine years of futility will do that to you. That being said, it's very ironic how quickly the fans have turned on the same team they were embracing about a month ago. Look at it this way Bills fans, it could be worse: you could be the Detroit Lions.