ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills have done enough to win their past two games, but will it be enough to make the playoffs?
That is the pressing question following the Bills' 28-21 win Sunday over the Jacksonville Jaguars, a seesaw affair that saw the Bills fall behind three times to a two-win team on their home field. For most of the game, the Bills continued to show signs that they simply are not good enough to be in the playoffs.
However, as poor as they played at times Sunday, the Bills (6-5) are still alive in the AFC playoff race after their win Sunday and an uninspiring 16-12 defeat of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11. The Bills did not get help Sunday from the Miami Dolphins or Baltimore Ravens, who both won and remain ahead of the Bills in the conference standings, but Buffalo has kept pace in a competition for wild-card spots that could come down to the final weeks of the season.
Even after back-to-back wins, the Bills can't afford to slide. They must win four of their final five games to finish 10-6 and have a realistic shot at a postseason berth, and it might take wins in all five remaining games -- which would mean a seven-game winning streak to end the season -- to secure the franchise's first playoff appearance since 1999.
Next up for the Bills is their toughest test of the season, a cross-country trip to play the Oakland Raiders. At 8-2 entering Sunday's late game against the Carolina Panthers, the Raiders held the No. 1 seed in the AFC's projected playoff field.
If the Bills are to win in Oakland, they must clean up the mistakes that plagued them in their narrow victory over Jacksonville. Red zone defense is a particular concern, as that unit has allowed opponents to score in 11 of their past 12 trips inside the 20-yard line, including a 2-for-2 showing by the Jaguars. Most of the breakdowns in that area have come in the secondary, where veteran cornerback Corey White struggled Sunday in place of injured Ronald Darby (concussion). Plus, the Bills have yet to find a capable replacement for Aaron Williams at safety.
Consistency on offense has also been a problem. Tyrod Taylor completed 7-of-11 passes for 48 yards in the first half of Sunday's game, prompting further questions about his accuracy and often conservative play at quarterback. To Taylor's credit, he opened things up in the second half by lofting a 62-yard completion to Sammy Watkins before scoring on a 7-yard run.