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Jay Skurski’s Coming Attractions: Five Bills story lines heading into bye

1. The Bills can enjoy themselves heading into the bye. Buffalo’s win Sunday marked the second straight year the Bills beat the Jets the week before their break in the schedule. That’s significant because before Doug Marrone took over as head coach, the Bills hadn’t won the game the week before their bye since 1999. The win gives the Bills two separate winning streaks in the same season for the first time since 2010. The victory also means the Bills are above .500 for just the fourth time since their 14-year playoff drought began. They were also 5-3 in 2011, 2008 and 2002.

2. Rest will be particularly good for a few key defensive and special teams players. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams briefly left Sunday’s game with a back injury. He also missed a game earlier in the season because of a knee injury. Safety Aaron Williams missed the New England game with wrist and neck injuries. Linebacker Brandon Spikes has shown up on the injury report the last couple weeks with a rib injury. All three of those players will benefit from the week off. Additionally, the Bills should be in a much better spot on special teams coming out of the break. Receiver Marcus Easley, the team’s best ‘gunner’ on punt and kickoff coverage, should be back from a knee injury that’s kept him out the past five games. Linebacker Ty Powell, another key special teams player, has also missed the past two games with an ankle injury.

3. There is time to figure out a plan for the rushing game. One area of concern coming out of Sunday’s game is at running back. As expected, replacing the injured tandem of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller proved difficult. Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown combined for just 59 yards on 29 carries, and as a team the Bills rushed for a paltry 67 yards on 32 attempts, an average of 2.1 yards per rush. With Jackson likely not back for Week 10, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will need to find a way to get more production from Dixon and Brown.

4. They have one more day to explore the trade market. The NFL’s trade deadline is Tuesday. Spiller’s injury took him off the market – if he was ever on it. Wide receiver Mike Williams’ agent requested and received permission to explore trade possibilities for his client. Can General Manager Doug Whaley find a taker for Williams, or does he even want to move him? Would the Bills consider adding a player to their roster at a position they are weak at, like guard? Whaley has to answer those questions in the next 24 hours.

5. They are now Jets fans. New York heads to Kansas City in Week Nine. The Chiefs – Buffalo’s next opponent in Week 10 – are coming off a 34-7 beatdown of the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Kansas City is one of 12 teams in the AFC with a .500 or better record through Week Eight. At 4-3, the Chiefs are one of the teams that will be in the thick of a tightly bunched pack of wild-card contenders – a group that includes the Bills, but not the 1-7 Jets.

email: jskurski@buffnews.com

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