There is relief on the horizon for the Buffalo Bills' struggling offense.
No, receiver Jordan Matthews and tight end Charles Clay will not be healthy for Sunday's home game against Tampa Bay. Onetime receiving savior Anquan Boldin shows no signs of coming out of retirement.
The next eight Bills opponents have defenses that all entered Week Six ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL in yards allowed.
Not until Dec. 17 when Miami visits New Era Field do the Bills face a defense that entered Week Six in the top 22.
It's still early in the season. No doubt some of the next eight defenses the Bills face will show some improvement. But this is not a contrived look forward at teams that just happen to have some bad early season statistics.
None of the next eight defenses were forecast to be dominant this season. Just two of the next eight ranked among the top half of the league in yards allowed last season. That was New England, which finished eighth last season, and the New York Jets, which finished 12th.
New England, of course, always projects as an "L" on the Bills' schedule regardless of what its defense is doing. Nevertheless, the Pats' defense has all kinds of problems. The Jets have front-seven defensive talent but show no signs of being a top 10 defensive threat.
The Bills' offense can use all the help it can get.
Buffalo's average of just 271 yards per game ranks 31st in the NFL, ahead of only Miami.
No NFL team in the last 10 years has won more than five games while averaging 271 yards a game or fewer on offense. With that in mind, it's remarkable the Bills are 3-2.
The Bills are on pace for their lowest yardage total since 2006, J.P. Losman's second season as the starting quarterback. That year the Bills managed to go 7-9 despite averaging 267 yards a game.
"It's a work in progress," quarterback Tyrod Taylor said of the Bills' young receiving corps after the loss at Cincinnati. "We're going to continue to keep building chemistry. ... It's a new group. We've talked about that. Things haven't been perfect up to this point. There's going to still be some bumps in the road. But we've got to continue to keep pushing. ... Like I said, I've got confidence in those guys."
Clearly, the challenge for Bills coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison coming out of the bye is to figure out how to squeeze a little more production out of an attack that has been rocked by the injuries to Matthews, the No. 1 wideout, and Clay, the No. 1 receiving target.
"That’s what we get paid to do, is to go in and solve those problems and make the adjustments," McDermott said.
The Bills' attack will need to improve because several upcoming foes have potent offenses, starting with Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers' defense entered the weekend ranked 30th in yards allowed. Tampa ranks ninth against the run and 31st against the pass. In their season-opening, 29-7 win over Chicago, the Bucs handled a Bears offense that's similar to Buffalo's.
Here's how the next seven Bills foes after the Bucs ranked defensively (overall, and against the run): Oakland (23, 25), the Jets (25, 30), New Orleans (29, 17), the Los Angeles Chargers (24, 32), Kansas City (27, 20), New England (32, 24), Indianapolis (31, 16).