The Bills are 3-2 as they head to the bye week. Here are the five biggest questions facing the team:
1) Are they all “addicted to the process”? We know Sean McDermott is. We’re going to find out if the players are, too. It’s a lot easier to make sacrifices when you’re winning. Most players can live with smaller numbers on the stat sheet as long as the final score is pointing in the right direction. Most players don’t mind putting in the extra work during the week when the team is competitive. What will happen when they face adversity? Will they stay committed to the process or start worrying more about themselves? We know which way Rex Ryan’s teams went when things got hard. We’ll get our first glimpse into how these Bills react soon as they try to rebound from an ugly loss.
2) How much depth do the Bills really have? Injuries are a certainty in the NFL. Backups will be forced into action. The talent on the Bills’ opening-day roster wasn’t bad, but their lack of depth appeared to be a red flag. Injuries (and benchings) kept multiple starters on both sides of the ball Sunday, and things already seemed to be getting thin. How many more injuries can each unit handle?
3) Who’s going to catch passes? Top wide receiver Jordan Matthews is expected to miss the next couple of weeks after having thumb surgery. If tight end Charles Clay, who suffered a knee injury Sunday, has to miss time, the Bills would be without 46 percent of their season receiving yards … just like they were in the second half against Cincinnati, when they gained 39 yards through the air. Zay Jones has the most yards of active wide receivers, with 66 in five games. Andre Holmes is second with 35. Is this a bad time to mention they really could’ve used Anquan Boldin?
4) Can the running game figure it out? The holes just don’t seem to be there for LeSean McCoy, who appears as shifty as ever. The Bills led the league in rushing yards per game and per attempt in each of the last two seasons, but it doesn’t look like they’ll make it a three-peat. Everyone always asked how Rex Ryan ruined a top-ranked defense, but if the running game doesn’t figure it out soon, we’re going to have to ask the same of offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.
5) Are the playoffs within reach? Sunday’s game may have been hard to watch, but being 3-2 through five games isn’t a bad spot to be in. The standings are tight, with 14 of the AFC’s 16 teams owning at least two wins, but the Bills have their destiny in their own hands. Games against AFC opponents will be key for tiebreakers. The Bengals loss should be a reminder not to get your hopes up too high, but at least at this point, the playoffs are still within the realm of possibility.