Two weeks ago, the Buffalo Bills were 4-7 entering their bye week and had an outside chance at a playoff spot in the AFC.
Fast forward to the present and the Bills have lost two in a row and need to win out in order to avoid another double-digit loss season.
Isn't it lovely, Bills fans?
The Bills' loss on Sunday was embarrassing. E.J. Manuel had his worst game as a pro as he threw four interceptions and was sacked seven times. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller were non-factors. And the defense gave up an 80-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage, which set the tone for the rest of the game.
Now, Buffalo turns their attention to another Florida team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Like the Bills, the Jaguars are 4-9. But unlike the Bills, the Jaguars have been one of the hottest teams in the AFC in recent weeks.
After starting the season 0-8, Jacksonville has reeled off four wins in five games, including two victories over the Houston Texans and wins over Tennessee and Cleveland. The Bills, however, have lost seven of their last nine games after starting the season 2-2.
But it only gets harder for Buffalo after the Jacksonville game. Following the game against the Jaguars, the Bills return to western New York for their final home game of the 2013 season against the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins, with a 7-6 record, are in contention for a playoff spot and proved Sunday that they can win in cold weather. (They beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh.) The Dolphins lost to the Bills earlier this season, so they will be hungry when they come to town later this month.
Once the Buffalo-Miami game is in the books, the Bills will prepare for their final game of the season — a road game against the New England Patriots.
Depending on how things unfold in the next couple of weeks, that could be a throwaway game for the Patriots. At 10-3, they are currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC. If they lock up the No. 2 seed in the coming weeks, we may not see Tom Brady and other starters play the entire game against Buffalo. But you never know with New England.
The final three games are important for the Bills. Their playoff hopes are gone. They won't finish with a winning season and they can't even play for a .500 season. But they can start working on things to prepare for the future.
There are a lot of areas that need some work. The Bills' passing attack needs one or two big targets. The offensive line is in need of a major overhaul. The run defense continues to be a problem. You won't fix these issues before the end of the 2013 season. They will require work in the off-season and heading into the 2014 season.
But the Bills can determine who will be part of the puzzle in 2014. Which offensive linemen should stick around? Do they need to shake up the receiving corps to make room for one or two new players? What pieces do they need to add — or subtract — to make the run defense better?
The last three games will be important as the team begins to evaluate their 2013 performance. This is the final chance for some players to make their case as to why they should be on this team in 2014. And it's an opportunity for the Bills to finish the season strong after a horrible showing in the second half of 2013.