Bills hot at home

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

If you bought tickets to see Kansas City running back Priest Holmes today at Ralph Wilson Stadium, you are out of luck.

Same deal if you picked up a pair expecting the Bills to be dramatically improved from a year ago and heading into the second half of the season with a winning record.

But if you are making the trek across the Peace Bridge to see a win for the home team, recent history would suggest you may be in luck.

The Bills (3-5) have reached the midway point of the NFL season and, despite that mediocre record, are surprisingly in fringe playoff contention.

The struggles of the New England Patriots are one big reason, while the Bills' record at the Ralph is another.

Coach Mike Mularkey's crew is dramatically different at home, where it is 3-1, versus the road where the Bills are winless.

As visitors, the Bills have been outscored 97-43, but in front of their noisy faithful -- one of the better home-field advantages in the NFL -- Buffalo has outscored opponents 85-62.

Even though most of the Chiefs never have been to Buffalo for a regular-season game, quarterback Trent Green is well aware of the Bills' record and reputation.

And though the Chiefs (5-3) may have a better record, they are in a similar divisional fight.

"Buffalo is only one game out of the (AFC East) lead, so it's not like they are hanging their heads," Green said this week.

"They have everything to play for. They have eight games to go and that division is up for grabs, so it's very important for both teams."

The hunch is to dismiss the Chiefs after losing Holmes for the season. But with 2003 first-rounder Larry Johnson and a stout offensive line, the Kansas City running game is still a potentially dominant factor.

The Bills fully expect the Chiefs to pound the ball on the ground today, especially against a run defence that is surrendering an average of five yards per carry.

Still the Bills, favoured by 2 1/2 points today, are coming off a bye and arguably their most complete performance of 2005. In a 21-16 loss to the Patriots at Foxboro, Buffalo dominated, controlling the ball for more than 39 minutes before a fourth-quarter collapse.

The Bills and their fans are tired of ifs and buts however and starting today, realize the margin for error is slim.

"I don't like being 3-5, I don't like being the butt-end joke of an NFL football team," Bills safety Troy Vincent said recently.

"I don't take that lightly and I hope my teammates don't. But the way you correct it is by winning."


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