The Buffalo Bills head into their bye week at a respectable 4-2. Normally, there's only one team we root for each week, but with the Bills sitting at home, here's a primer of who you should root for this weekend with the playoffs in mind.
Big Games For Buffalo
San Diego Chargers (4-1) over New York Jets (3-3)
After their less-than-convincing win over Miami this week, the Jets are right behind Buffalo at 3-3. While I consider the Chargers more of a threat than the Jets at this point with the way Brian Schottenheimer's offense has been playing, it's still best to put some distance between Buffalo and Rex Ryan's club in the AFC East. With the being said, it's still a positive for Buffalo if the Jets win. San Diego's record falling could help determine the wild card or seeding, and raising the Bills' strength of schedule could matter. In the end, I'm just not rooting for the Jets.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) over Baltimore Ravens (4-1)
The Jaguars are in the dumps at 1-5 and non-threatening as far as the playoffs go. The Ravens, on the other hand, are very much in the playoff picture. A loss here helps the Bills in the fight for seeding across the board.
Arizona Cardinals (1-4) over Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
The Steelers could be fighting with the Bills for the two wild card spots. Entering Week 7, the Bills actually hold the tiebreaker over the Steelers with a better in-conference record, but a loss would move Buffalo ahead in overall record, too.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) over Oakland Raiders (4-2)
The Raiders are tied with the Bills for the final playoff spot if the postseason began today. Buffalo's win over Oakland is the only tiebreaker that counts if the two teams were tied at the end of the year. Still, the more they lose - especially in the AFC - the better.
Tennessee Titans (3-2) over Houston Texans (3-3)
This one is right behind Jets-Chargers as the most even matchup for Buffalo. The Bills play the Titans and not the Texans, so this would boost Buffalo's SOS. It also pushes Houston further down the wild card rankings in a division where one of these two teams will triumph and the other will likely be watching the post-season on TV. At the same time, that win by Tennessee ties them with Buffalo in the AFC rankings. At the end of the day, root for whichever team you think is going to win the division. For now this is the better play, but later in the year it could be flipped.
Seattle Seahawks (2-3) over Cleveland Browns (2-3)
While a win by Cleveland would boost Buffalo's strength of schedule, Cleveland is only a game behind Buffalo in the loss column. Since record is the first thing they look at for the playoffs, I wouldn't mind seeing the Browns lose this game.
Games That Mean Little To Buffalo
New Orleans (4-2) over Indianapolis (0-6)
While you shouldn't be worried about the Colts, they do play the Patriots this year. Opponents' strength of schedule is in the tie-breaking procedures, so you should root for Indy to have a low record. It's an added bonus if the Colts prevent Miami from gaining Andrew Luck, too.
Washington (3-1) over Carolina (1-5)
Dallas (2-3) over St. Louis (0-5)
Miami (0-5) over Denver (1-4)
Similar to the Saints and Colts game, Washington beating Carolina and Dallas beating St. Louis boosts Buffalo's strength of schedule, as would Miami topping Denver. There's an added bonus that the Dolphins would move one win further down the draft board, too.
Games That Likely Won't Matter
Tampa Bay (4-2) over Chicago (3-3)
Chicago plays the entire AFC West this year. If they lose, it hurts the Chargers and Raiders in SOS. Tampa plays the AFC South, and since the records of the top two teams there are worse, Chicago winning would mean more as it stands today - but not by much.
Detroit (5-1) over Atlanta (3-3)
The Lions play the entire AFC West like the Bills this year, so if they win it would boost Buffalo's opponents' strength of schedule. That tiebreaker's a little far down, though.
Green Bay (6-0) at Minnesota (1-5)
Since these two teams are in the same division in the NFC, no matter what the outcome, Buffalo won't see a positive or negative effect. Donovan McNabb went to Syracuse while Ted Thompson, the Packers GM, is from Western NY.
Byes: Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers
If the games above finish as we hope, this is how Buffalo would stand going into next Sunday:
1 seed - New England (5-1)
2 seed - San Diego (5-1, lose head-to-tiebreaker vs. NE)
3 seed - Cincinnati (4-2)
4 seed - Tennessee (4-2, lose AFC record tiebreaker vs. CIN: 4-1 to 4-2)
5 seed - Buffalo (4-2)
6 seed - Baltimore (4-2, lose AFC record tiebreaker vs. BUF: 3-1 to 3-2)
7 (OUT) - Pittsburgh (4-3)
8 (OUT) - Oakland (4-3, loses AFC record tiebreaker: 3-2 to 4-3)
Rest of AFC teams: Kansas City (3-3), Houston (3-4), New York (3-4), Cleveland (2-4), Jacksonville (2-5), Miami (1-5), Denver (1-5), Indianapolis (0-7)
If the games above finish as we do not hope, this is how Buffalo would stand going into next Sunday:
1/2 seed - New England (5-1) / Baltimore (5-1) - Would go to fourth tiebreaker, strength of victory
3 seed - Oakland (5-2)
4 seed - Houston (4-3)
5 seed - Pittsburgh (5-2, loses AFC record tiebreaker: 5-2 to 3-2)
6 seed - Cincinnati (4-2)
7 (OUT) - Buffalo (4-2, lose AFC record tiebreaker vs. CIN: 4-1 to 3-1)
8 (OUT) - San Diego (4-2, loses AFC record tiebreaker vs. CIN and BUF: 4-1 and 3-1 to 3-2)
9 (OUT) - New York (4-3)
Rest of AFC teams: Tennessee (3-3), Cleveland (3-3), Kansas City (3-4), Denver (2-4), Jacksonville (1-6), Indianapolis (1-6), Miami (0-6)