ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - There's no sympathy among losers.
So don't expect any onfield pity party to break out Sunday, when the Buffalo Bills play host to the Detroit Lions in an anti-classic misery-suits-company matchup that could go a long way in determining which team just might be the NFL's most inept of the new century.
"I don't have any pity on those guys," said Lions receiver Calvin Johnson said of a Bills opponent that, at 0-8, is halfway to matching the Lions 0-16 campaign two years ago. "They've got to win and we've got to win."
Buffalo safety Donte Whitner isn't expecting anyone to feel sorry for the Bills, particularly the Lions (2-6), who have lost 24 straight road games, one short of breaking the NFL record they themselves set in 2003.
"Yeah, you don't feel empathy for anybody and we don't expect people to feel empathy for us," Whitner said. "We're 0-8. We expect them to come out and try to embarrass us."
Let the bad times roll, then, in a midseason Futility Bowl between two teams that have much more in common than sharing a Great Lakes address.
Buffalo and Detroit are tied in having the league's longest active playoff droughts _ dating to the 1999 season. Their drafting history has been inconsistent. And then there have been the near-perennial quarterback and coaching carousels, with the Bills actually hiring Dick Jauron in 2006, a year after he finished the previous season as the Lions interim coach.
Off to its worst start since 1984, Buffalo has been incapable of winning in the United States or in Canada, following a 22-19 loss to Chicago in the Bills' home-away-from-home in Toronto last week.
The Lions can't win anywhere outside of Detroit since a 16-7 victory at Chicago on Oct. 28, 2007.
And to think, the Bills are actually favored by 3 points.
"You've still got to earn it," receiver Lee Evans said, before adding nothing surprises him any more, including the Lions road woes. "I couldn't fathom being 0-8 either. So, things happen."
Winning in the clutch has been a problem, too. Buffalo's lost each of its past three by 3 points, including twice in overtime. The Lions' latest collapse came in squandering a 10-point fourth-quarter lead in a 23-20 OT loss to the New York Jets last weekend.
Lions guard Stephen Peterman went through the winless season in Detroit, and can understand what the Bills are going through.
"They remind me of how we were the year we were 0-16. They're not quitting," Peterman said. "I'm sure with us not winning on the road in a while, they're probably looking at this as, 'Hey, this is where we can get our first win of the year.'"
Someone's got to win, right?
The Lions have shown glimpses of progress in having already matched their win total from last season.
They feature an emerging star in No. 2 draft pick, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who leads all rookies and is tied for 11th overall with 6 1/2 sacks. Running back Jahvid Best, another rookie, has provided the offense some balance with 345 yards rushing and four touchdowns, along with 356 yards receiving and a score.
What's missing is a road victory.
"I've said this before, you don't win on the road because you know how to pack a suitcase or you know how to check into a hotel," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "You win on the road by having good players that are well-coached and used to playing on the road and respond well to doing that."
The difficulty has been at quarterback, and Matthew Stafford's inability to stay healthy. He'll miss his sixth game this season after hurting his shoulder against the Jets.
That means veteran backup Shaun Hill will start against Buffalo a month after he broke his left arm in a 28-20 loss at the New York Giants.
The Bills, at least, have the benefit of finally playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium and before their loud and raucous contingent of home fans. Including playing at Toronto, where nearly half the fans were rooting for the Bears, Buffalo's not played at Orchard Park since a 36-26 loss to Jacksonville on Oct. 10.
And it doesn't matter if this game's not a sellout.
"We haven't deserved a whole lot of praise this season, but we're going to continue to bust our humps and try to get that first 'W'," linebacker Chris Kelsay said. "And to do it in front of our home fans _ our HOME fans here in Buffalo _ would be a great feeling."
It won't be easy. The Bills lost linebacker Andra Davis (shoulder) and receiver Roscoe Parrish (broken wrist) to season-ending injuries this week. And linebacker Shawne Merriman's debut is on indefinite hold. Merriman aggravated an injury to his right Achilles' tendon in his first practice Wednesday, a week after the Bills claimed him off waivers.
Adversity is nothing new to the Bills.
"Man, we can't catch a break, but what are you going to do but keep going?" linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "We'll continue to press on."