Sitting at 4-2, the Buffalo Bills head to Toronto to take on the Washington Redskins this week. We understand that some of you only care about this game, but there are others who watch as many contests as they can. This post is for those fans. Here's this week's primer to help you figure out who to root for.
Big Games For Buffalo
Pittsburgh Steelers over New England Patriots
This week's headline game is a win-win for Buffalo. Both teams are ahead of the Bills in the standings, but a loss by New England and a Buffalo win puts the Bills back on top of the AFC East due to their tie-breaker victory. It's too bad that this game is a late start alongside the Bills game.
Seattle Seahawks over Cincinnati Bengals
I don't get a feeling the Week 4 win by the Bengals is going to be a bur in the side of the Bills come playoff time. Cincinnati still hasn't seen Baltimore or Pittsburgh yet this year. Those AFC North teams still need to beat each other up a little bit, but a win by an NFC team over this AFC contender is a no-brainer.
Arizona Cardinals over Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens fell behind the Bills in the AFC playoff ranking after their loss this week, but they share the same record as Buffalo. Just like the Bengals, a loss by the AFC North to the NFC West would be helpful.
San Fransisco 49ers over Cleveland Browns
It's AFC North vs. NFC West week, and the Browns are 3-3. A loss to the resurgent Niners puts them further down the list in the AFC.
Jacksonville Jaguars over Houston Texans
The Jaguars are the sole reason Buffalo is still in the sixth spot after their upset of the Ravens on Monday Night Football. If they can upset a division leader two weeks in a row, it won't help Buffalo move up the rankings, but could help them in wild card or seeding tie-breakers later on.
Indianapolis Colts over Tennessee Titans
The Colts looked awful Sunday night, but in a divisional game all bets are off. The 3-3 Titans are nipping at the Texans' heels in the AFC South, and are only one game back of the Bills in the Wild Card. The winless Colts taking out the Titans wouldn't hurt anything except their bid to get Andrew Luck.
Miami Dolphins over New York Giants
Speaking of Andrew Luck, that a good enough reason to root for the Dolphins in this one. It's not the only reason though, as Buffalo's two games against the Dolphins count more than the one Giants game in the strength of schedule tiebreaker.
Kansas City Chiefs over San Diego Chargers
The Bills hold the tie-breaker against the Chiefs and have yet to play the Chargers. After starting 0-3, a win by the Chiefs would actually put them into the playoff picture with a 4-3 record and the lead in the AFC West.
Games That Mean Little To Buffalo
Denver Broncos over Detroit Lions
Normally you would root for the AFC team to lose, but in this case, we'll make an exception. The Broncos are likely not a threat to the Bills in the AFC playoff picture, so a win by Denver boosts Buffalo's strength of schedule. (The two teams meet in Week 14.) Since that is the fifth tie-breaker, we'll just say this isn't that important.
Games That Likely Won't Matter
New Orleans Saints over St. Louis Rams
The Bills don't face either of these teams this year, and the Saints play the AFC South, which shouldn't be in play for a wild card spot. The Rams face the AFC North, and they are very much in play for both of those wild card spots. A loss by the Rams would hurt the Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals strength of schedule, but it's still way down the tie-breaking list.
Carolina Panthers over Minnesota Vikings
The Panthers face the AFC South and the Vikings face the AFC West. With teams in the wild card hunt, a win by the Panthers would hurt the Chargers, Raiders, and Chiefs in strength of schedule.
Philadelphia Eagles over Dallas Cowboys
The AFC East plays both these teams and can't gain anything from this match-up. I just root against the Cowboys on principle.
Byes: Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If the games above finish as we hope, this is how Buffalo would stand going into next Sunday:
1 seed - Pittsburgh (6-2)
2 seed - Buffalo (5-2)
3 seed - Kansas City (4-3)
4 seed - Houston (4-4)
5 seed - New England (5-2: lose head-to-head tiebreaker with BUF)
6 seed - Cincinnati (4-3)
7 (OUT) - Baltimore (4-3, lose common game tiebreaker to CIN: 0-1 to 1-0 against JAC)
8 (OUT) - New York (4-3, lose AFC record tiebreaker to OAK: 4-3 to 3-3)
9 (OUT) - San Diego (4-3: lose head-to-head tiebreaker with NYJ)
10 (OUT) - Oakland (4-3: lose AFC West tiebreaker to SD, 2-1 to 1-1)
Rest of AFC teams: Tennessee (3-4), Cleveland (3-4), Denver (3-4), Jacksonville (3-5), Miami (1-6), Indianapolis (1-7)
If the games above go as much against the Bills as possible, this is how Buffalo would stand going into next Sunday (this gets a little convoluted):
1 seed - New England (6-1)
2 seed - Cincinnati (5-2)
3 seed - San Diego (5-2)
4 seed - Houston (5-3)
5 seed - Baltimore (5-2: lose common game tiebreaker to CIN, 0-1 to 1-0 against JAC)
6 seed - Pittsburgh (5-3)
7 (OUT) - Buffalo (4-3)
8/9 (OUT) - Oakland/Tennessee (4-3: lose AFC record tiebreaker to BUF, 3-1 to 4-3) - Goes to strength of victory tiebreaker
10 (OUT) - New York (4-3: lose AFC East record tiebreaker to BUF, 1-0 to 1-1; lose AFC tiebreaker to OAK/TEN, 4-3 to 3-3)
11 (OUT) - Cleveland (4-3: lose AFC tiebreaker to NYJ, 3-3 to 2-3)
Rest of AFC teams: Kansas City (3-4), Denver (2-5), Jacksonville (2-6), Miami (0-7), Indianapolis (0-8)