Chuck Pollock

The timing isn’t the best.

After all, the Buffalo Bills, coming off a heartbreaking 37-31 loss to the Patriots on Sunday in Foxboro, have pretty much expended their cushion.

After all, at 3-6, and having lost five of the last six, they would normally be toast in their bid for  a playoff berth.

But this isn’t a normal season.

A game past the season’s midway point, only six AFC teams have records over .500 ... though each is 6-3-or-better.

At one point the conference looked so weak, there was speculation a 7-9 record might take one of the wild cards.

No more.

Worst case, it now looks like 9-7 ... minimum.

Which means the Bills can ill-afford another loss.

THIS WAS supposed to be the make-hay portion of their schedule playing Miami (4-5) twice, Indianapolis (6-3), St. Louis (3-5-1), Seattle (6-4) and the Jets (3-6).

But suddenly it doesn’t look so “easy,” starting Thursday night when the Dolphins visit “The Ralph” smarting from a 37-3 thrashing administered by struggling Tennessee on Sunday in South Florida.

In an effort to give every NFL team at least one nationally-televised game, the league decreed all 32 clubs would play on Thursday, either in the 16 NFL Network telecasts or in the two Thanksgiving afternoon.

The problem is, playing four days after a Sunday game is brutal scheduling for a game as violent as pro football.

Players and coaches don’t like Thursday games, though they rarely admit it.

When asked about a meeting with the Dolphins with so little preparation or recovery time after a tough road game. Buffalo coach Chan Gailey admitted of Thursday games, in general, “I’m not a big fan. I don’t like it. I think it’s tough on the players.

“We have quite a few players that sometimes don’t even get back on the practice field (by) Thursday. I think this is a tough turnaround for a football team and the players in general. But it’s here and it is what it is so you deal with it.”

However, the tight time frame certainly affects game prep.

“Everything is different,” Gailey said. “We will not even look at the New England game (films) with the players ... we’ll go straight to Miami. We’ll do a walk-through (Monday) with some stuff on Miami. (Today) will be somewhat of a practice, not really a normal practice, but it will be as close to a normal day as you get on a Sunday-Thursday week. Then Wednesday will be another walk-through day like a (normal) Saturday.”

He added, “You have to make certain adjustments in a short week ... (preparation) is complicated by that. We’re not going to do much hitting at all.”

And Gailey knows a bit about that, having coached two Thanksgiving Day games when he was with Dallas.

“I remember a little bit about what we did there,” he said.  “We had some notes. I called a couple of teams to see what they’re doing (these days) ... I was seeing what the difference is.

“People might be doing something different (from his years with the Cowboys, 1998, ‘99) that might be better. This is not exactly like we did it in Dallas ... there are some changes.”

As for playing on four days preparation, Gailey admitted, “ I don’t have an opinion about the quality of the product ... I have more of an opinion about player safety and stuff like that.”

Besides, his real concern is getting the Bills kick-started and out of their current malaise ... he’ll just have to do it on Thursday.

“You focus on the next game ... I think that’s the way you have to do it,” he said of trying to get his team on a win streak. “You cannot win two in a row unless you win one in a row. You cannot win three in a row unless you win the first one. “That’s our goal, to get on some kind of streak to give ourselves some a chance to get where we want to be.”

But to do it, the Bills will have to start on a short week.

(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at

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