Despite getting off to a horrible start to the season and being forced to rotate their quarterbacks because of injuries, the Buffalo Bills are back in the AFC playoff picture.
The Miami Dolphins have also been banged up, but their season has been horrendous.
The Bills look to win their fourth straight game and move over .500 for the first time in more than two years when they visit the winless Dolphins on Sunday.
Buffalo (4-4) was outscored 79-24 in losing its first three games and it appeared this would be another rebuilding year for a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1999.
The Bills, however, won for the fourth time in five games last Sunday, 33-21 at home over Cincinnati.
“It’s real big. It’s big for everybody in this locker room,” said wide receiver Lee Evans, who had a season-high 165 yards. “The mistakes we made early in the season, we’re not making now. We just have to keep it rolling.”
The Bills have not won four straight since a six-game run from Nov. 21-Dec. 26, 2004.
A win Sunday would move Buffalo above .500 for the first time since opening the 2005 season with a victory. That team went on to lose its next three games and finished 5-11.
“Maybe they’re learning how to win. Maybe we’re just getting better,” Bills coach Dick Jauron said. “I don’t know exactly what it is. I don’t know that anybody ever does. But it’s a much better feeling than we had early in the season.
“There’s so much football to go. We just have to see where it goes.”
Jauron announced Tuesday that J.P. Losman will start at quarterback against the Dolphins after his second straight stellar performance last week.
Losman, who was the Bills’ opening day starter but sprained his left knee in a 38-7 loss at New England in Week 3, went 24-for-34 for 295 yards, a touchdown and an interception last Sunday.
In Buffalo’s 13-3 victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 28, Losman replaced starter Trent Edwards—who sprained his right wrist—and was 3-of-5 for 113 yards and a touchdown in just over a quarter of work.
In three career games against Miami, Losman has thrown for 507 yards, seven touchdowns - his most against any opponent - and one interception.
Evans has 19 receptions for 410 yards and six touchdowns - his most against any opponent - in six games against the Dolphins. Evans has benefited from Losman’s recent success, catching 14 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games after having 17 receptions for 211 yards and no scores in his first six.
The Bills swept the season series with the Dolphins last year, winning 16-6 at Miami on Sept. 17 and 21-0 at home on Dec. 17. Buffalo has won five of the last six meetings.
Miami (0-8) is off to its worst start in franchise history and has lost a club-record 11 straight dating to last season. The Dolphins are coming off their bye week after falling 13-10 to the New York Giants in London on Oct. 28.
“We’re going to keep our eyes up, our heads high,” coach Cam Cameron said. “This group’s got a lot of football left this season. There’s eight games staring at us.”
Lemon, who took over when Trent Green was sidelined by a season-ending concussion in Miami’s 22-19 loss to Houston on Oct. 7, was 17-for-30 for 149 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a fumble against the Giants. In four games, Lemon has thrown for 792 yards, three TDs and four picks.
The Dolphins are also without starting running back Ronnie Brown for the rest of the season. Brown had 602 rushing yards, 389 receiving yards and accounted for five TDs before tearing his ACL against the Patriots on Oct. 21.
Miami has been outscored by an average of 18.7 points in its three defeats at Dolphin Stadium.