Norm Hall - Getty Images
The Buffalo Bills are a shade on the outside looking in, and the team directly in front of them is imploding.
Despite playing two of the worst games in franchise history the previous two weeks, the Buffalo Bills are in the thick of the AFC playoff race. That's more of an indication of the AFC than the Bills, though, as just two are above .500. (The NFC has seven including the lone unbeaten squad in Atlanta.)
The Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens lead the conference with a 5-1 record. After that, things get murky.The Denver Broncos hold a 3-3 record and top the AFC West thanks to their win last night over the similarly 3-3 San Diego Chargers.
The New York Jets and New England Patriots are in a virtual tie for the AFC East lead with equal 3-3 records and an undefeated mark in the division. The Jets have a 2-0 to 1-0 lead in games within the AFC East so NFL.com lists them ahead of the Patriots, but New England owns a better conference record which is the next tiebreaker. In any event, they've both beaten the Bills so they are ahead.
Buffalo, Miami, Cincinnati, and New York/New England would join San Diego at 3-3 as the fiveteams fighting for the final two fake playoff spots. The only thing Bills fans need to know is that both AFC East teams would be in before them thanks to head-to-head losses. The Chargers would be, too, thanks to a better conference record but they have lost three of four and the media is calling for coach Norv Turner's head during the team's bye week.
The Bills hold the common games tiebreaker over the Dolphins, as Miami lost to Arizona. Buffalo's 2-2 record in the AFC gives them the edge over Cincinnati's 2-3 mark. Therefore, Buffalo stands at seventh in the AFC with a crucial tiebreaker game coming to their home field.
It's obviously incredibly early in the process to even put eyes on the standings, but it's notable that despite some horrendous football, the Bills aren't that far back and have eight games left against teams that are 3-3 or worse. They also play five games against teams currently tied with or ahead of them in the AFC.
Through Week 6:
No. 1 - Houston Texans (5-1)
No. 2 - Baltimore Ravens (5-1)
No. 3 - New York Jets (3-3)
No. 4 - Denver Broncos (3-3)
No. 5 - New England Patriots (3-3)
No. 6 - San Diego Chargers (3-3)
No. 7 - Buffalo Bills (3-3)
No. 8 - Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
No. 9 - Miami Dolphins (3-3)