It may have taken until the end of November, but the Buffalo Bills are finally close to full strength. Apart from the surprise absence of DT Kyle Williams from Friday’s practice, the Bills are injury-free for the first time this season. Jairus Byrd has returned and is already back to his ball-hawking ways. Stephon Gilmore‘s wrist is healed, and the talented sophomore is continuing his development towards becoming a premiere, shutdown corner. Mario Williams is being Mario Williams, EJ Manuel‘s knee is at full-strength, and Stevie Johnson‘s perpetually sore groin appears to be holding up.
The current Bills roster is undeniably loaded with young, dynamic talent. Unfortunately, that talent may be coming together too late to save the Bills’ season. Buffalo is at the bottom of the AFC East with a 4-7 record and would need to win out for the remainder of the season in order to have a realistic chance of grabbing a wild card playoff spot. While that outcome seems highly unlikely at this point, the importance of these final five games still cannot be overstated.
The fact that the Bills are healthy simply means that they have run out of excuses for losing. That, more than anything else, is why the remaining stretch of games is so pivotal. First year head coach Doug Marrone finally has a full-strength, highly talented squad at his disposal. What he manages to do with it remains to be seen.
This final stretch of games, beginning with Sunday’s ‘home’ game against the Atlanta Falcons in Toronto, will serve as a barometer for Marrone’s tenure in Buffalo. Sure, the Bills have been mostly competitive this season, but they have also failed to make plays down the stretch that could have resulted in a much better record overall. And competitive or not, that’s one trend that the Bills will need buck before any of their long-suffering fans will be satisfied.
But for now, all that’s left to do is sit back and see what the Buffalo Bills are capable of.