Power Rankings: Preseason: 21. This week: 24.
Where they stand: The Bills are 3-5 and tied for last place in the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins -- but not in the same class. The Bills would need to darn near run the table and then hope for help along the way to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade, and that's not happening. Their offense is anemic, with a line that was weak from the start and has been decimated by injuries. They have the worst run defense in the NFL, and esteemed special-teams coach Bobby April's units are playing well below what we're used to seeing.
Disappointments: When kick returner Leodis McKelvin fumbled away a near-certain victory over the New England Patriots on opening night, it was a harbinger of the season. Bills fans were borderline euphoric over the possibilities of an offense with receivers Terrell Owens and Lee Evans and a potent backfield with Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. Third-year quarterback Trent Edwards could have been looking at a breakout campaign with those weapons and a new no-huddle offense. The Bills woefully underestimated their talent on the line. The first string failed to score a touchdown in five preseason games. The Bills fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert 10 days before the season opener, have Owens on pace for his worst season since he was a rookie and scrapped the no-huddle.
Surprises: The biggest surprise is that head coach Dick Jauron still has a job, but the spirit of this category is to recognize pleasant developments. There haven't been many, but rookie safety Jairus Byrd has been awesome. The second-round draft choice from Oregon has seven interceptions, tying him with defensive player of the year candidate Darren Sharper for the league high. Buffalo's secondary as a whole has played well, especially considering three-fourths of the original starting quartet has been sidelined. McKelvin is out for the season and safeties Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott have missed several games.
Outlook: After 10 years of not making the playoffs, the organization should have completed the rebuilding phase from its last postseason game, which ended with the Music City Miracle. Many teams have rebuilt, imploded and rebuilt again in that span. But the Bills likely are facing an offseason of further transition. In addition to Jauron's job being in jeopardy, the Bills still don't have a reliable quarterback -- a veteran or a viable understudy -- on the roster. With word they're considering Michael Vick, one has to wonder if the Bills have any organizational plan whatsoever or if they're content to wing it year after year.