Why The Buffalo Bills Can Still Make The Playoffs

Rick Stewart

Feeling down because the Buffalo Bills are 3-6? Fear not: the AFC is wide open, and the Bills still have a shot with seven games remaining.

The Buffalo Bills have lost three straight games to drop from 3-3 to 3-6, and from a four-way tie atop the AFC East to 13th place in a conference where only six teams make the playoffs.You might find it high time to write Buffalo off as hopelessly out of the playoff picture. You'd be wrong to do so.

Buffalo has seven games remaining on the schedule, and the conference is loaded with bad and mediocre teams, giving the Bills an opportunity to claw their way back into the wild card race. Three of the four division leaders are all in firm control; Houston, New England, and Denver each hold two-game leads with seven to play. Baltimore holds a one-game lead on Pittsburgh in the AFC North.

After the division leaders, nine teams are within three games of the playoffs. As Buffalo enters the "easy" part of their schedule, facing only one defense ranked in the top half of the league (Seattle) along the way, they can still claim a legitimate shot at the post-season. Here's what they're up against.

Indianapolis Colts (6-3, No. 5 in AFC): The Bills have faced the most difficult stretch of their schedule already after losing to San Fransisco, New England (twice) and Houston. The Colts, conversely, are entering the most difficult part of their schedule with games against New England and Houston (twice). The Bills also get a shot at Andrew Luck and company on November 25 - so despite the fact that they are three games behind, the Bills can catch the Colts pretty easily down the stretch.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3, No. 6): Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injured his shoulder on Monday night, and there's no word on how long he'll be out. (He's questionable for this Sunday). He also has a baby on the way, and has said he would miss a game if necessary to witness the birth of his child. Pittsburgh enters the tough part of their schedule this week against the Ravens for the first of two matchups in three weeks. Their lead in the win column will be tough for the rest of the AFC unless they fall apart.

San Diego Chargers (4-5, No. 7): Just one game ahead of the Bills, the Chargers have lost four of their last five games. They have upcoming tilts against the Broncos, Ravens, Bengals and Steelers. The best team they've beaten is the 4-6 Titans team they toppled in Week 2. Since then, they've lost 7-6 to the Browns and 27-3 to the Falcons.

Miami Dolphins (4-5, No. 8): The Bills get two shots against their divisional foe. If Buffalo takes care of business starting this Thursday night, they will have no need to worry about the mammals from South Florida. Miami also has to face the Patriots twice and the 49ers in San Fransisco.

Cincinnati Bengals (4-5, No. 9): Until their win over the Giants last week, the Bengals had feasted on lackluster opponents. They have a bunch more on the schedule until the final two weeks, when they'll travel to Pittsburgh and host the Ravens. Looking at the schedules, the Bengals may be the toughest team to overcome, as they make a run against the AFC West's bottom three teams in the next three weeks.

Tennessee Titans (4-6, No. 10): The Bills can be tied with the Titans after a win this week, but Tennessee would hold the edge thanks to their Week 7 win in Orchard Park. They have two tough games coming down the stretch against the Texans and the Packers, though they also play the 1-8 Jaguars twice over their final six games. That tiebreaker could haunt the Bills.

New York Jets (3-6, No. 11): The Jets still have one game left against the Patriots, and the bloom is definitely off the rose on offense, as they've been held under 10 points in consecutive games. Games against the Cardinals, Titans, and Chargers won't be easy, and they face the Bills in Week 17 in a matchup of possible wild card contenders - or bottom-dwellers.

Oakland Raiders (3-6, No. 12): With a -93 point differential, it's amazing the Raiders are 3-6. The schedule coming down the stretch isn't overly difficult, with just one game against a current division leader (Denver in Oakland). They could be getting Darren McFadden back this week, too.

Buffalo Bills (3-6, No. 13): We knew at the beginning of the year that the toughest part of the schedule was early, with two against the Patriots and one apiece in San Fransisco and Houston. We also knew that the final stretch would provide opportunities to make up ground. The Bills are entering that stretch. Indianapolis and Seattle are the only two teams remaining on Buffalo's schedule with winning records. They have five home games among their remaining seven (one of which is in Toronto). They'll need to go 6-1 at minimum to have a shot. If five of those six wins are in the AFC, they'll have a solid chance at the wild card with a 3-3 record in the AFC East and a 7-5 record in the conference.

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