Fate sealed, Bills out to avoid infamy vs. Browns (Dec 18, 2016)

BY AP • December 14, 2016

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills are all but assured of extending the NFL's longest playoff drought. They are adamant about avoiding another dubious distinction -- becoming the first team in 2016 to lose to the Cleveland Browns.

"We ain't gonna be that team," Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus said Wednesday. "That's just a guarantee."

The Bills (6-7) and Browns (0-13) resume their Rust Belt rivalry on Sunday at New Era Field. Interest in the game is low, evidenced by tickets selling on the secondary market for as low as $7. But players on both teams are using the Browns' winless record as motivation.

"When a team loses almost every game, it comes that question, who will be the team that they will beat," Bills running back LeSean McCoy said. "You never want to be that team."

Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III said, "Everyone's trying to kick us when we're down, so we just have to go take it. We're going to get everybody's best shot because nobody wants to lose to us."

Griffin is also trying to prove that he is still a viable starting quarterback. He struggled last week in his first start since returning from a fractured shoulder in the season opener, posting a 38.4 passer rating in the 23-10 loss to Cincinnati.

But coach Hue Jackson is not yet ready to give up on Griffin.

"I am going to work through it and see where we are," Jackson said. "That is the whole part of him playing, so we can evaluate where we are and have a good feel about it when the season is over. ... Let's go through this week and see where he is and see if he improved or not before we just write him off."

As long as the Bills have even the slightest chance of making the playoffs, coach Rex Ryan won't write off his quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, either.

Buffalo ranks last in the NFL in passing and management is reportedly ready to move on from Taylor after this season. The Bills have until March to decide whether to pick up the option on a contract signed before the season. Under terms of the deal, Taylor would be guaranteed more than $30 million in the next two seasons, or release the embattled quarterback and owe him nothing.

"The reason he's our starting quarterback is, in my opinion, he gives us the best chance to win," Ryan said. "And that's what we signed up for. We're trying to win these games."

The Bills have lost two in a row and even if they run the table to finish 9-7 for just the third time this century, they are unlikely to overcome their 12th place standing in the AFC to claim a Wild Card spot.

"Until they officially announce us out or dead or whatever in the playoffs, we are going to try whatever it takes to win these games," Ryan said. "We may have a one percent chance, or less than that, I don't know, but we are still going for it."

Once eliminated from the playoffs, Ryan may be more inclined to get backup quarterbacks E.J. Manuel and rookie Cardale Jones on the field.

Ryan will pick Buffalo's starting quarterback for another week, at least, but his own job security is as tenuous as Taylor's.

Bills players have even begun to speculate on what changes will be made once the Bills officially miss the playoffs for the 17th year in a row.

"Of course guys sit there and talk and wonder what the situation is going to be," wide receiver Sammy Watkins said. "We know if we lose what the situation is going to be like. And for me, I'm trying to be here forever. I'm not trying to start over a whole team in free agency. So my job is to really go out there and sell out and try to win for myself, for my name, and for this team. If anybody else isn't thinking that way, then that's a problem."

Watkins missed practice Wednesday due to lingering soreness in his surgically-repaired foot, but is expected to play. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams (back), left tackle Cordy Glenn (back), tight end Charles Clay (knee) and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (rest) also did not practice.

Left tackle Joe Thomas (knee) did not practice for Cleveland, but is expcted to play. Wide receiver Ricardo Louis (thumb), defensive tackle Jamie Meder (thigh) and defensive back Jamar Taylor (groin) were limited.

Cleveland claimed rookie running back Darius Jackson off waivers from Dallas on Wednesday and released linebacker Corey Lemonier.



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