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Best-case scenario puts Bills a win from playoffs

Bills fans wondering who to root for or against in the NFL's postseason chase should focus on the simplest and best playoff scenario for Buffalo this weekend. It goes like this:

The Bills beat Tennessee, Miami beats the Jets, Denver beats Cincinnati and New England beats Jacksonville.

If all four of those things happen, then the Bills need only to beat Baltimore in the finale to get a wild-card berth.

The worst-case scenario is the Jets beat Miami, Denver beats Cincinnati and Kansas City loses to Oakland. If those three things happen, the Bills are eliminated even if they defeat Tennessee. The reason is, under that scenario, they would not be able to catch either the Jets or Denver.

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There still were about 18,400 tickets left for Sunday's game, and it will not be shown on local TV. . . . Sign in the Bills' locker room this week: "A pint can't hold a quart -- but if it holds a pint it's doing one hell of a job."

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NFL players feel an attachment to their shoulder pads.

J.P. Losman still wears the green shoulder pads he wore at Tulane. Willis McGahee wears his pads from the University of Miami. When players switch teams they often take their pads with them. Craig Nall wears his pads from Green Bay, and Matt Bowen wears his pads from the Redskins.

"The pads are already curved to your body," McGahee said of his U of M pads. "I've had them since college. I've worn them for four years."

"I kept mine because they fit well, and I've played well with them before," Bowen said. "Mine are Douglas pads. These are Riddell [what most of the Bills wear]. I've worn Douglas pads a long time.

"I think if you wore new pads during camp, with all the hitting we do in camp, you'd break them in," Bowen said. "The best way to describe it is it's like a baseball glove. You get a baseball glove to fit and you want to keep it."

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The Bills linebackers held their annual holiday party Wednesday at Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo. The linebackers give presents to a group of children who are part of the Parents and Children Together Program. It provides primary medical care and case management services to children exposed to illicit drugs and alcohol in utero. Primary care, specialty care and case management services are also provided to HIV-infected children and HIV-exposed children. The money to throw the party comes from an elaborate and good-natured fine system the linebackers run for themselves the entire season.

"We fine for everything," said Takeo Spikes. "If someone throws a ball and if I get one hand on it not two, the guys will say, 'We expect greatness out of you. You should get two hands on it. That's $10.' If you jump offsides, that's $10. You show up late for a meeting, that's a fine. If we go over something in the meeting room and then somebody asks, 'What if they do this?' And we just went over it. That's a fine."

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Receiver Peerless Price (thigh) and Spikes (ankle) both returned to practice Thursday. They're expected to play Sunday. Fullback Daimon Shelton (concussion) sat out again. Coach Dick Jauron said Shelton has an outside chance to play. Nall sat out due to illness.

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The Bills have been one of the most opportunistic teams in the league. They have converted 23 takeaways into 94 points. That's a ratio of 4.09 points per takeaway, which is second-best in the league, behind only Dallas. The Bills' points off of takeaways account for 35.6 percent of all their points scored, the best percentage in the league. Chicago is next at 35.5 percent. . . . Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay was a roommate of Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch at Nebraska. Vanden Bosch, two years ahead of Kelsay, finished his college career with 142 tackles, 13 sacks and 34 tackles for loss. Kelsay's Cornhuskers stats were 135, 13 and 33. Vanden Bosch was academic All-America twice, Kelsay three times. Both players have 5.5 sacks this season. Kelsay was credited with a half sack against Miami, sharing it with Aaron Schobel, whose total dropped to 13.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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