The Buffalo Bills are a team in need of a reason to believe today.
Ugly losses the past two weeks to Chicago and Detroit had to have shaken the Bills' collective confidence. They were not admitting that this week, but everyone acknowledged the frustration of losing to previously winless Detroit last week.
Another poor showing in today's game against the New England Patriots would be a damaging blow within the team and would put a lot of fans in a write-them-off mode for the rest of the season.
"Our mind-set is we are desperate for a win, and that is the reality of it," said Bills receiver Peerless Price. "None of us in this locker room should be satisfied with being 2-4, that's for sure. These last couple weeks have been rough.
"Chicago was the most embarrassing loss I have ever had in this league. Last week, me personally, I felt we should have won the game. We made too many mistakes to lose it, so you have to give Detroit credit. But I thought we were the better team going into the game and we lost. It is disappointing, and none of us want to be 2-4."
Coach Dick Jauron acknowledged the emotional nature of every NFL game after the Detroit loss.
"Whenever you lose a game, you feel like you're never going to win again," Jauron said, referring to the hours immediately after a defeat. "And whenever you win, you can't wait to get back and win again."
The Bills have a bye after today's game. Another egg-laying would make for two miserable weeks before their next outing, at home against Green Bay on Nov. 5.
Nothing seems to induce egg-laying by the Bills like the presence of the Patriots. New England has won 11 of the last 12 against the Bills, including six straight.
Each of the past four years, the Pats have blown out the Bills once. Last year, it was a 35-7 drubbing in Buffalo. In 2004, it was a 29-6 rout at New England. The 2003 season finale at Foxborough was 31-0. The Pats drubbed the Bills, 38-7, in Orchard Park in 2002.
"I know one thing," said Bills running back Willis McGahee, "we are tired of losing to these guys, so we need to get a win."
The key to keeping it close against the Pats usually is turnovers.
The Bills made a combined 13 turnovers in the four blowout losses to the Pats since 2002. In the season opener six weeks ago, they made no turnovers.
The Bills know they can hang with Tom Brady and Co. They had the Pats on the ropes six weeks ago before losing, 19-17. The Pats are great at winning the close ones. The Bills are not so good.
Brady, the Pats' quarterback, is 23-3 in games decided by less than a touchdown.
The Bills have lost six of the last seven games decided by less than a touchdown. They are 3-16 in such games over the past four-plus years.
"It's about learning how to win," said receiver Lee Evans. "You can be in the game for 3 1/2 quarters, but until you learn how to finish it out, you don't win and it's going to go in the loss column. It can't all be chalked up to being young, but I think it's a step that a young team goes through."
Despite the struggles, Jauron does not yet sense a crisis in confidence in his club.
"They continue to prepare really well, so that to me is an indication they do believe, they do buy into it, and they definitely care," he said.
"All of us are upset by the situation we're in, but I do believe these guys believe in themselves and believe in the team. But at some point you've got to win. You've got to produce it on the field. They're still working with good enthusiasm. We have to transfer all that effort and preparation into production on game day."