Sure, the loss pretty much eliminated them from contention in the AFC playoffs, but the Bills likely needed to win out plus some additional help to make that happen anyway.
For the Bills, the loss on Sunday was beneficial for two reasons. The first? It doesn’t give this team any false ideas as to just what their identity is. This is a young team still in the middle of rebuilding. It never really was a playoff team, and being in this race for much longer wasn’t fooling anyone as to what this team really is.
Sure, they may have finally found their quarterback in E.J. Manuel, they finally have a productive and exciting defense, and their ground game is capable of being one of the best in the entire league thanks to the duo of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. But they still lack weapons on offense, particularly at wide receiver and tight end, and depth on the offensive line. They also need another linebacker not named Kiko Alonso and more depth in the secondary, as injury issues early in the season decimated that group and put the Bills in a tough spot defensively.
They’re slowly getting closer to being that playoff contender, but they still need pieces. Another bad season allows them to add a big, talented piece to the puzzle. With that, we can all reasonably hope for the playoffs next year.
Speaking of draft picks, we’ve come to the second reason why losing on Sunday was beneficial for the Bills: draft position. As it stands right now, the Bills would be in possession of the either the seventh, eighth or ninth picks depending on tiebreakers and coin-tosses due to sharing the same 4-8 record with the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, but there is opportunity to improve that standing.
They play two of the teams ahead of them in the draft order in the coming weeks: the 3-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 3-9 Jacksonville Jaguars. Both started with big, fat 0-fers before turning it around in the last few weeks and playing much, much better. They’ve combined to win six of their last eight games, and the Bills could use those games to vault themselves into the top five.
We’ll save the speculation on what they might do with that pick for another time, but in a year with several top-flight quarterbacks, having a top five pick could turn out to be a gold mine that could bring back several valuable pieces for the Bills.
Who knew that good could come from losing?