AFC East: Buffalo Bills

videoOAKLAND, Calif. -- Talk about a black hole.

The playoff hopes of the Buffalo Bills (8-7) were sucked in, swallowed up and left to rot Sunday inside O.co Coliseum, where the lowly Oakland Raiders (3-12) spoiled what had been a promising late-season run by a team that has now hitched another season to its 15-year postseason drought.

Everyone knew that it would take all sorts of help for the Bills to find their way into the playoffs in a crowded AFC field, but few expected it would end this way, with a 26-24 loss to the Raiders that eliminated the Bills from playoff contention.

"We were trying to move this organization up the ladder," defensive tackle Corbin Bryant said. "We lose a game like this when we have a chance to get ourselves into better position for the playoffs, it definitely hurts. It's no secret that it hurts a lot."

The sting around the Bills' locker room wasn't just because this was another season where players will pack up and watch January's games from home. This year was different. Instead of turning their attention to the draft as is the annual custom by this point in the season, Bills fans dove head-first last week into crunching the scenarios that would get the team into the playoffs.

This wasn't what was supposed to happen.

The Bills' defense -- rightfully vaunted after a head-turning win over Green Bay Packers last Sunday -- laid an egg against a Raiders offense that ranked dead last in several statistics. Allowing a struggling rookie quarterback, Derek Carr, to complete a 51-yard pass on third-and-22 -- with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter -- isn't the mark of a playoff team.

Nor is managing just 13 rushing yards in the game. Already handcuffed by their well-documented quarterback problem, the Bills' once-superior running game continued to deteriorate Sunday, putting up the franchise's worst single-game performance since a 4-yard outing in 1997.

"Hell, I don't even know if we rushed the ball for even 20 yards, which is flat-out embarrassing," tight end Lee Smith said. "We're grown men. We all work very hard. We all dedicate ourselves to this game, and when you get your ass whooped up front for four quarters, it's embarrassing."

While C.J. Spiller's four carries for negative-4 yards jumps out on the stat sheet and contributed to the running game's woes, it wasn't entirely his fault. The offensive linemen, whose play has been inconsistent all season, dropped the ball when the Bills needed a lock-down win Sunday.

Is this as bad as Doug Marrone has seen his blockers play this season?

"Yeah," he responded succinctly.

Even the Bills' run defense, which has slid since a strong start to the season, was gashed at times Sunday by a Raiders offense that entered the game averaging a league-low 74 yards rushing per game.

"They hit the big plays," Marrone said.

A backfield combination of Latavius Murray and Darren McFadden combined for 140 rushing yards on 32 carries, including a pair of 25-yard runs that supplemented passes of 51 and 50 yards by Carr. Losing Marcell Dareus in the second quarter to a knee injury was a contributing factor, but the air-tight Bills' defense that handed Aaron Rodgers the worst game of his career last week was nowhere to be found in Oakland.

Forget about scoreboard-watching and deciphering tiebreakers; the least of the Bills' obstacles to making the playoffs was their trip to Oakland this weekend, and they blew it.

Because of that, their season is over, the postseason drought continues and fans' hopes were raised a little bit higher only to come down crashing that much harder.

"There's no putting into words with how disappointed I am with myself, and just the way we played in general," safety Aaron Williams said. "We just didn't come out and play.

"We had the playoffs this year and we let it slip away."
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Buffalo Bills' 26-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders:

Smith
Bills got "whooped" up front: Tight end Lee Smith was blunt when asked about the Bills' dismal rushing performance, which saw them gain just 13 yards on 13 carries. "I don't even know if we rushed the ball for even 20 yards, which is flat-out embarrassing," he said. "We're grown men. We all work very hard. We all dedicate ourselves to this game, and when you get your ass whooped up front for four quarters, it's embarrassing. We take it personal, and there's no excuse for it." Doug Marrone said Sunday was the worst showing by the offensive line this season.

Marrone's parting shot: At the end of his postgame news conference, Marrone was asked about a CBSSports.com report in which Marrone was said to be "on the radar" for the University of Michigan's head coaching vacancy. "No, not right now," he said. "I have nothing to do with that job." Marrone then walked off the podium and added with a laugh: "You're stuck with me, fortunately or unfortunately."

No indication on EJ Manuel's status for finale: With the Bills now eliminated from the playoffs, the possibility of the Bills evaluating quarterback EJ Manuel moves onto the radar. Marrone made it clear two weeks ago that he would stick with Orton even if the Bills were out of the playoffs, but he was less firm when asked the question after Sunday's loss. "We'll look at the film and see what we have to do and play who gives us the best chance to win next week," he said.

Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
7:43
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 26-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at O.co Coliseum:

What it means: The Bills (8-7) were eliminated from the playoffs in crushing fashion. Riding high after taking down the Green Bay Packers, the Bills made a cross-country trip to Oakland and laid an egg to end their season. The Raiders (3-12) were able to make the big plays, including a key 51-yard catch by Andre Holmes on a third-and-22 late in the fourth quarter, the Packers weren't able to execute last week. Oakland's "black hole" took on new meaning for the Bills, whose offense -- including quarterback Kyle Orton -- yet again proved too inconsistent to win.

Stock watch: Rushing offense -- down. The Bills ran 13 times for 13 yards and their worst single-game rushing performance since 1997. It tied the Detroit Lions' 13 yards in Week 13 as the second-fewest by a team this season, behind the Indianapolis Colts' 1 rushing yard Sunday. The Bills entered Sunday with the NFL's 26th-ranked rushing offense and averaging 3.83 yards per carry.

Spiller ineffective in return: Playing his first game since fracturing his collarbone in Week 7, running back C.J. Spiller was largely ineffective in limited action against the Raiders. He ran four times for negative-4 yards and fumbled, though he recovered the loose ball on his final carry of the game. He added four catches for 14 yards.

Game ball: WR Sammy Watkins. The rookie was the lone bright spot in the Bills' offense. He caught a 42-yard touchdown from Orton in the first quarter and finished with three catches for a team-high 75 yards.

Two key defenders injured: The Bills suffered a pair of losses in their defense Sunday when Marcell Dareus (knee) and Stephon Gilmore (head) both left the game with injuries. Dareus has been one of the Bills' best defensive linemen this season, with 10 sacks, while Gilmore is the Bills' top cornerback.

What's next: The Bills close out their regular season with a trip to meet the New England Patriots (12-3) next Sunday. It's the second consecutive season the Bills have wrapped up at Gillette Stadium; Buffalo lost 34-20 to New England in their finale last December.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Buffalo Bills running back Bryce Brown is inactive for Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.

Brown was effectively pushed off the 46-man game-day roster with the return of C.J. Spiller from injured reserve. Spiller is active Sunday, as expected.

The Bills deactivated Brown for the first seven games of the season but he had been active every game while Spiller was out.

Here is the full list of Bills' inactives for Sunday:

TE Chris Gragg (knee)
RB Bryce Brown
LB Larry Dean
CB Ross Cockrell
LB Randell Johnson
OL Cyrus Kouandjio
WR Deonte Thompson
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Welcome to O.co Coliseum where the Buffalo Bills (8-6) meet the Oakland Raiders (2-12) at 4:25 p.m. ET (1:25 p.m. local time) Sunday.

Weather conditions: It's a damp morning here in the Bay Area, with temperatures hovering in the low 60s after some light rain last night. There is some fog and mist in the area but no significant precipitation is expected during the game. Winds are light.

Iffy field conditions: After rain the past two days, the natural grass field here doesn't appear to be in great shape. The area between the hashmarks looks to have been re-sodded, but there are bare, muddy areas elsewhere on the field. Overall, this 48-year old facility is on its last legs. There was a threat that the Raiders could pack up and move elsewhere for next season, but NFL Network reported Sunday morning that the team will announce a one-year extension on its lease.

Bills seeking first Oakland win since 1966: The Bills are seeking their first win in Oakland since 1966, the year this facility opened.

Few injury questions: The Bills have few injury questions for Sunday's game. Tight end Chris Gragg (knee) is questionable, while the rest of their injury report -- including running back C.J. Spiller -- is probable. If Gragg does not play, the Bills will have to declare an additional six inactives.

Wrolstad gets the call: Craig Wrolstad is today's referee.

W2W4: Buffalo Bills

December, 19, 2014
Dec 19
7:00
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills (8-6) will travel cross-country to meet the Oakland Raiders (2-12) on Sunday at O.co Coliseum (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS).

Here is what to watch for from the Bills' side:

1. Strength against weakness: We led off the past two weeks dissecting how the Bills' defense was meeting its opponent's strength, namely the offenses of the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers. This week, the situation is almost entirely reversed, and the Bills' defense is meeting the Raiders' main weakness -- their offense. Consider some of their league rankings:
  • QBR: 27th (Bills' defense: 1st)
  • Yards per game: 32nd (Bills' defense: 5th)
  • Yards per play: 32nd (Bills' defense: 4th)
  • Rushing yards per game: 32nd (Bills' defense: 9th)
  • Passing yards per game: 24th (Bills' defense: 5th)
  • First downs per game: 32nd (Bills' defense: tied-8th)
2. Easing in Spiller: The Bills activated C.J. Spiller to their 53-man roster Friday and he's expected to play Sunday. But how much will he play? That could be a more of an issue of "feel" and how Spiller reacts to his first contact and first live reps in over two months. "The only concern I have is -- it’s not really being in shape, but to be able to play and run plays in and out, in and out, in and out and to make sure his conditioning is right at that level," coach Doug Marrone said Thursday. "It seems to be OK. I think it will just get better. I know he looks explosive. He’s moving well." With Fred Jackson on the field for more than 70 percent of the snaps the past three weeks, I wouldn't expect Spiller to return and all of the sudden take the lion's share of carries in the backfield. Instead, it's more reasonable that the Bills will ease him into some plays as both a runner and receiver and if the results are there, keep at it.

3. Scoreboard watching: While it's necessary for the Bills to secure a victory Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive, they'll need a lot of help during the next two weeks from other teams. That means they'll have to watch the scoreboard Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with several AFC contenders in action in the three-day span. FiveThirtyEight has a terrific tool that lays out each game's impact on the Bills' playoff chances, which currently sit at 5.2 percent. Here are the positive outcomes for the Bills:
  • Bills defeat Raiders: increases Bills' playoff odds by 2.4 percent.
  • Houston Texans defeat Baltimore Ravens: increases Bills' playoff odds by 2.1 percent.
  • Denver Broncos defeat Cincinnati Bengals: increases Bills' playoff odds by 1.7 percent.
  • San Francisco 49ers defeat San Diego Chargers: increases Bills' playoff odds by 1.5 percent.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers beat Kansas City Chiefs: increases Bills' playoff odds by 1.4 percent.
4. Going for first win in Oakland since 1966: If the Bills take care of business Sunday and improve to 9-6, it would be their first victory in Oakland since 1966. Here are their previous meetings with the Raiders, in Oakland, since that game:
  • Oct. 23, 2005: Loss, 38-17
  • Sept. 19, 2004: Loss, 13-10
  • Nov. 28, 1977: Loss, 34-13
  • Oct. 15, 1972: Loss, 28-16
  • Oct. 19, 1969: Loss, 50-21
  • Nov. 28, 1968: Loss, 13-10
  • Dec. 24, 1967: Loss, 28-21
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills submitted paperwork Friday morning to add running back C.J. Spiller to their 53-man roster.

Spiller
Spiller, who has been on injured reserve with a designation to return, is probable to play in Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.

Spiller (collarbone) was a limited participant in each practice this week.

Here is the Bills' full injury report for Sunday's game:

Questionable:
TE Chris Gragg (knee; limited participation)

Probable:
S Duke Williams (concussion; limited participation)
RB Anthony Dixon (chest; full participation)
K Dan Carpenter (groin; limited participation)
S Da'Norris Searcy (hamstring; limited participation)
RB Spiller (shoulder; limited participation)
WR Marcus Thigpen (foot; limited participation)
CB Stephon Gilmore (shoulder; limited participation)
DE Jarius Wynn (knee; limited participation)
Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus topped fan voting among defensive tackles for the 2015 Pro Bowl.

Dareus
Fan voting, which accounts for one-third of the selection process, ended Dec. 15. Final selections, which will be announced Dec. 23 at 8 p.m. ET, will also take into account votes from players and coaches.

Dareus received 331,006 votes, with Chicago Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea (297,826 votes) finishing second at the position.

No other Bills players topped fan voting at their positions for the 2015 Pro Bowl, which will be played Jan. 25 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Last season, Dareus and linebacker Kiko Alonso both topped fan voting at their respective positions but were not initially selected to the Pro Bowl. Dareus was later selected as an alternate.
The Buffalo Bills helped their playoff cause with an an upset win against the Green Bay Packers, but it might not be enough.

Even with a victory Sunday over the Oakland Raiders, the Bills can still be eliminated from postseason contention by Monday night.

In fact, the entire AFC playoff field can be determined by the end of Week 16. Here's how that could happen, per ESPN Stats & Information: Even if the Chargers defeat the 49ers, preventing the Ravens from clinching a spot, it would be bad news for the Bills. The Chargers, with a Week 3 win in Buffalo, hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills.

Likewise, a Steelers' loss could also have a negative effect on the Bills, as the Chiefs also hold the head-to-head advantage over the Bills.

QB snapshot: Kyle Orton

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
1:00
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A quick observation of quarterback Kyle Orton and how he played in the Buffalo Bills' 21-13 win over the Packers in Week 15:

Orton
 When the Buffalo Bills essentially used two first-round draft picks in May to select wide receiver Sammy Watkins, the objective was clear: to make EJ Manuel better.

Manuel is no longer the Bills' quarterback, but with Orton at the helm since Week 5, has Watkins made him better?

At this point, not by much. Watkins had just one catch on six targets Sunday, finishing with 28 yards. It's the sixth time in 10 games with Orton that Watkins has been held to fewer than 40 yards receiving.

Whose fault is that? To find out, I took a look at all six of Orton's targets to Watkins. Here are the highlights:

Footing an issue: Watkins slipped on two of his first three targets from Orton, something that Doug Marrone mentioned in his Monday news conference. Neither were perfect throws from Orton, but had Watkins stayed upright, he was in position to catch both passes.

Orton's interception a poor throw: Orton was intercepted by cornerback Tramon Williams in the second quarter on a play in which he underthrew Watkins down the sideline. It was a similar route to Watkins' 28-yard catch earlier in the quarter, when Watkins cut under cornerback Sam Shields to pluck the ball out of the air. This time, Williams stayed between Watkins and the ball for the interception; Watkins didn't have much of a chance.

Failed red zone target: Watkins had a chance at a touchdown in the third quarter. Against softer coverage in the red zone, Watkins broke toward the sideline around the 5-yard line but Orton's throw was badly overthrown, over the pylon. It might have been the quarterback's worst throw of the game.
With two weeks left in the regular season, the scenarios by which the Buffalo Bills can make the playoffs are probably simple, right?

Maybe not.

With nine AFC teams having records above .500, including the Bills, there is still plenty to be sorted out in the AFC playoff picture.

The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts have all clinched their respective divisions, but the AFC North is still up for grabs and there are still six teams realistically in play for the two wild-card spots.

The Bills -- who are currently ninth in the AFC -- finish with two road trips, beginning this weekend when they travel to play the Oakland Raiders.

"Obviously we got to go to Oakland and find a way to get a victory," cornerback Corey Graham said after Sunday's win over the Green Bay Packers. "If we get a victory, hopefully it will mean something. We don’t know exactly how everything gonna go out, but all we can do is go out there and compete and play our best out there."

After returning from Oakland, the Bills will get back on their plane for a finale at New England.

"Of course I didn’t like the fact that I lost to the Patriots," Graham said, referring to the Bills' Week 6 loss to the Patriots. "I mean, I don’t like the Patriots. They’ve been running this division for a long time. It’s time for change. We’re going to have an opportunity to play them at the end of the season. We’ll be ready to roll."

In the meantime, Bills fans can check out ESPN.com's Playoff Machine to churn through some of the possible scenarios.
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Bacarri who?

Rambo
University of Georgia fans know him -- as do Washington Redskins fans -- but most Buffalo Bills fans were introduced to safety Bacarri Rambo when the second-year safety snagged two interceptions in the second half of Sunday's 21-13 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Rambo, who the Bills signed one day before a massive snowstorm hit the region last month, saw mop-up action in the Bills' blowout win in Detroit and was later sidelined with a hamstring injury. He was active for just the second time with the Bills on Sunday, beginning the game on special teams.

But when starter Duke Williams -- thrust into the lineup after an injury to Da'Norris Searcy -- left in the third quarter with concussion-like symptoms, it was Rambo's chance to make an impact.

He jumped an Aaron Rodgers pass to Randall Cobb late in the third quarter, notching his first career interception and returning it 16 yards.

"We knew once 18, Cobb, once he ran that route, I was going to take him and he was going to free up," Rambo said. "When it happened I was like, 'Oh, here it comes.' And I just saw Rodgers eyeing his guy, and I just broke on the ball and made a play."

Then it came again: on the Packers' next drive, a Rodgers pass deflected off the hands of receiver Jarrett Boykin and found its way into the arms of Rambo for his second interception.

"My man went away and I just freed up and watched the quarterback," he said. "It was kind of like a layup. He threw it right to me."

Even teammate Nickell Robey didn't foresee Rambo having that sort of impact.

"No, I didn't. I'm going to be honest," he said. "I really think he played well today though, but I didn't expect him to step up like he did."

Coach Doug Marrone explained that the Bills were fortunate to still have Rambo on their roster.

"We made good choices as we were switching some people out of the roster," he said. "He's someone that, at one point, I remember we talked about him and said, 'Hey, listen. We don't want to lose this kid. We think he can play.'

"And sure enough, I'm glad everything went in that direction."
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Aaron Rodgers won't need to double-check this one: The Buffalo Bills' defense is for real.

Any questions about the unit -- which were fair after flimsy outings earlier this season against Philip Rivers and Tom Brady -- were quieted with an emphatic thud Sunday when the Bills turned Rodgers' first career start at Ralph Wilson Stadium into a nightmare.

Entering the game at the forefront of the MVP discussion and as arguably the game's best quarterback this season, Rodgers was held to a 34.3 passer rating -- the worst of his career -- in a 21-13 Bills win over the Green Bay Packers, one that kept the Bills (8-6) alive in the AFC playoff hunt.

[+] EnlargeBills defense
AP Photo/Gary WiepertGetting physical on defense was key for the Bills, who notched this safety late in Sunday's win.
One week after holding Peyton Manning to a 56.9 passer rating -- his worst since 2008 -- during a loss in Denver, the Bills' stifling effort against another future Hall of Fame quarterback further proves that they have one of the NFL's best defenses.

"It was frustrating," Rodgers said after the game. "They did a good job on defense, kind of slowed us down a little bit. We had some opportunities and didn't execute very well on them."

Sure, some of the Packers' passing woes were self-inflicted. Of Rodgers' career-high 25 incompletions, several were simple misfires on his part, while another seven were dropped by his receivers -- the most by a team in a single game since 2008. Had a wide-open Jordy Nelson not let a perfect throw from Rodgers late in the third quarter fall through his hands, the Bills' defense would still be trying to chase him down.

But this was a day for the Bills' defense -- one that dropped a couple of easy interceptions of its own -- and not for Rodgers and the NFL's highest-scoring offense. To say that the Bills slowed down the Packers "a little bit" is quite the understatement.

It's hardly anything new for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's group, one that allowed the NFL's fourth-fewest points and held opposing quarterbacks to the league's second-lowest Total QBR entering Week 15.

The Bills racked up an NFL-best 48 sacks prior to Sunday's game, yet were able to force the Packers' offense to fizzle even without pressure on Rodgers, who wasn't sacked until Green Bay's final offensive snap.

"The protection was great," Rodgers said. "There was not much of the pass rush that bothered me. I was able to move around the pocket."

So how did the Bills contain the Packers' offense?

"They were physical and got away with it more than we expected," Rodgers said.

While being physical was part of the coaches' messages during the week, Schwartz and secondary coach Donnie Henderson focused on keeping the scheme simple for defensive backs tasked with slowing down Rodgers, Nelson and Randall Cobb.

"Communication, communication, communication. That's all there was to it," cornerback Nickell Robey said. "We ain't going to make it a magical formula or whatever like that. It was just communication. Making the game simple for us. Going down there and just getting their guy. Don't get beat. If [Rodgers] scrambles, stay with your man. Trust in each other out there on the field.

"Communication and trusting each other. Those were the two main things today and that's what we [followed] through on and we finished the game out with a win."

Veteran cornerback Corey Graham, who has started the past four games after Leodis McKelvin went down with a season-ending ankle injury, didn't complicate the approach.

"Just cover. That's what we do," he said. "Pretty much what you get out of us. It's gonna be a lot of man-on-man, you get your cat. Everybody's gonna be out there, got their own guys. Everybody gonna hold you accountable to get your guy."

Though the defensive line didn't record a sack until late in the fourth quarter -- when Mario Williams strip-sacked Rodgers for a safety to seal the victory -- the rock-solid front line still played a part in the defense's strategy.

"We know that we had to keep Aaron Rodgers from scrambling around. He scrambles around a lot, tries to buy time with his feet," Graham explained. "For the most part, our D-line did a great job keeping him in the pocket, keeping him from moving around too much and keeping him from buying too much time. So we wanted to do that and we were able to do that today."

Whether it's the Bills' front seven or their secondary, their defense sent a clear message to Rodgers and the rest of the NFL: Don't discount us.

"It's been two weeks in a row that we played against probably the best quarterbacks in the league," Graham said, "and we held our own regardless."
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Buffalo Bills' 21-13 win over the Green Bay Packers:

Garrett
Marrone
Marrone not thinking about future: With the Bills improving to eight wins for the first time since 2004, the case is growing stronger for Doug Marrone to remain as the head coach next season. Marrone, as one might expect, wasn't willing to talk about his job security. "I never even think like that," he said. "I just try to win each game. It's my job. It's an opportunity, and I really don't do it for me. ... The coaches, the fans, the region: When we win, I'm happy for them, and when we lose, I feel like I let them down. That's just the bottom line."

Players support Marrone: Bills players were quick to praise Marrone after the game. "He's a great motivator. I don't think people know that about him," running back Anthony Dixon said. "He knows how to get us going. He don't got the best personality, but he just grinds it. He works hard, and he makes sure we work hard and we're accountable. We love him for that. ... He has our support 100 percent. Because at the end of the day, he makes us better. He makes us realize what we need to be doing, what we need to focus on. We all need that in our lives. We all need that seriousness to be able to go far with this thing. To win a championship you need to have a leader with some fight and some fire inside of him, and that's what he is."

Running back Fred Jackson echoed the thoughts. "It was a quality win against a quality opponent," Jackson said. "[Marrone] got us prepared to do so. That's all you can ask for a coach. We love playing for him. We'll continue to fight for him."

Defense riding high: The Bills held Aaron Rodgers to the lowest quarterback rating (34.3) of his career, something that even caught Bills players by surprise. As I mentioned that stat to one player in an interview, another defender an adjacent locker turned his head in surprise and asked, "Really? Wow."

Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
4:25
PM ET

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 21-13 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium:

What it means: The Bills (8-6) took down the NFL's hottest team in the Packers (10-4), who fell to 0-6 all time in Buffalo. While Buffalo's offense -- especially quarterback Kyle Orton, who finished with a 54.2 quarterback rating -- was inconsistent Sunday, the Bills' defense and special teams won the day. The Bills have won eight games for the first time since 2004. Considering the strength of the AFC, they'll still need to win their final two games to have a chance at the playoffs.

Stock watch: Defense -- up. There isn't one player to single out from this unit, but they proved Sunday that they are the real deal and should be in the discussion as the NFL's best defense. After holding Peyton Manning to a 56.9 quarterback rating last week, the Bills' defense was truly stifling Sunday, limiting Aaron Rodgers to a 34.3 rating -- the worst of his career. The winning formula was tight coverage from the Bills' secondary, a slew of bad throws from the game's best quarterback and plenty of drops from his receivers. Rodgers had a 40 percent completion rate and averaged 4.4 yards per attempt, some of the worst statistics of his storied career.

Game ball: Safety Bacarri Rambo. The most unlikely of heroes for the Bills in their win, Rambo intercepted Rodgers twice in the second half after entering in the third quarter for an injured Duke Williams. It was Rambo's first extensive action with the Bills since being signed last month. Who would've guessed?

Carpenter perfect: As anemic as the Bills' offense has been, kicker Dan Carpenter has been solid. He was a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals Sunday, including 51- and 48-yard kicks. Carpenter is second in the NFL with 28 field goals.

What's next: The Bills close out their regular season with back-to-back road games. They'll travel cross-country Friday for a game Sunday against the Oakland Raiders (2-12), and then finish out at New England (11-3) in Week 17.

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