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Fred Jackson: Bills' playoff hopes in run-the-table territory

By Tim Graham

The NFL already has relegated the Buffalo Bills to the spoiler role. Not even the most faithful fan can dispute that notion with much vigor.

The Bills have dropped four of their past five games and already have five losses this year.

Running back Fred Jackson knows the Bills might need to darn near run the table to reach the postseason, starting with Sunday's game against the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are 11-point favorites.

"For us to get to where we want to be, this is a must-win for us," Jackson said. "We get a great chance to go into a place that we haven't won in a long time and get this thing turned around. That's a huge focus for us.

"We can't lose any more games and expect to do things that we want to get done. Everybody's focused on that. We know it's going to be a huge test for us, but we feel like we can play with these guys. We've just got to finish games."

Since the NFL realigned in 2002, no AFC team has gone to the playoffs with more than seven losses -- and 9-7 has been far from a guarantee. Several 9-7 teams have failed to get into the tournament because of a tiebreaker.

The 2008 Patriots didn't get in despite an 11-5 record. The 2007 Cleveland Browns didn't make it at 10-6.

The last AFC team to not win its division yet make the playoffs with more than seven losses was the 1991 New York Jets with an 8-8 record.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |