ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott addressed his team after its 20-3 win against the Denver Broncos on Sunday and addressed the media before crossing the parking lot to the Bills' practice facility, changing his clothes and diving into his next opponent.
The Bills' short week had begun.
Buffalo (8-3) travels to Dallas (6-5) for a Thanksgiving Day game with the Cowboys (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS) in what might be the Bills' biggest regular-season game in recent memory. It's the crown jewel of a day that might as well belong to Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones -- and it takes place in Jones' standard-setting AT&T Stadium.
"It's a big stadium. Lot going on on the perimeter. Big scoreboard," McDermott said Tuesday. "A lot of these new stadiums, everyone seems like they're trying to one-up the other, but at the end of the day, it's a Thanksgiving game, and we're honored to play in it from that standpoint. A lot of tradition around that, too."
Stadiums aside, Thursday's game provides a rare opportunity for the Bills to play in front of an audience broader than their usual Western New York bubble. Only one of their eight wins has come against a team with a winning record, but beating the Cowboys would give the Bills some credibility in the eyes of their skeptics -- and they know it.
That's easier said than done, of course.
Dallas averages the most yards of offense per game in the NFL (433.4), along with the most passing yards (303.5) and yards per attempt (8.6). Its passing attack is bolstered by running back Ezekiel Elliott and the league's eighth-ranked rushing offense, with an average of 129.8 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, Dallas owns the league's sixth-stingiest defense in terms of yards per game, seventh-best scoring defense and sixth-best passing defense.
For the Bills, a win would be well-earned.
"It's an opportunity for us to take another step this season as a football team," McDermott said. "Our players are aware of that. We've got a short week to prepare ... we've talked at length in here about getting rest and prioritizing what and how we want to do things this week.
"And also being grateful for Thanksgiving and all that we've been blessed with as well."
For Buffalo, those blessings include the AFC's leading receiver in John Brown, the league's third-ranked defense and a two-game lead in a crowded wild-card race. McDermott's team might also count one of the league's easiest schedules to date as a blessing -- one that Buffalo has taken advantage of, with seven wins against teams with losing records.
However it has been viewed, the Bills' schedule is nothing short of difficult from here on out, with consecutive games against Dallas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New England the next four weeks. A loss Thursday wouldn't drastically hurt Buffalo's playoff chances, but the Bills can ill-afford to start this stretch with a dud -- even on a short week.
"I don't think any of our guys are looking ahead at the games following this game," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "It's really about this Thanksgiving Day game. It's so, so important to us, and that's where our focus is.
"This game has huge, huge implications for our team, and I think that's where our focus is: just trying to find a way to get a win in this ball game."