13 Years: A Look Back At Buffalo Bills Playoff Eliminations

Tom Szczerbowski

Want to bash your face in with a baseball bat because the Buffalo Bills have missed the playoffs again? Why not read this instead?

The Buffalo Bills were officially eliminated from the AFC playoff picture on Sunday. They had maintained a tiny sliver of hope that was extinguished by the Seattle Seahawks in Toronto. With that comes the yearly slew of meaningless games to close out the regular season, and the Bills being relegated to potential spoiler.

How many of these games have we seen over the years where the Bills are just playing out the string? Let's look deeper.

2000 Buffalo Bills (8-8)

  • High Water Mark: Winning four straight games to get to 7-4.
  • Low Water Mark: Losing their next four to fall to 7-8.
  • Divisional Elimination: Week 14, December 3; the Dolphins go to 10-3 after beating the Bills, who fall to 7-6.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 16, December 17; the Colts go to 9-6, the Bills lose and drop to 7-8.
  • Playoff Picture: Three games out of the division, two games out of the wild card.

2001 Buffalo Bills (3-13)

  • High Water Mark: Drafting Nate Clements, Aaron Schobel, and Travis Henry?
  • Low Water Mark: Six straight losses and 1-10 record.
  • Divisional Elimination: Week 12, December 2; the Bills fall to 1-10 while the Dolphins went to 8-3.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 12, December 2; the Ravens, Jets and Patriots move to seven wins.
  • Playoff Picture: Eight games out of the division, seven games out of the wild card.

2002 Buffalo Bills (8-8)

  • High Water Mark: 5-3 and a half game back of the Dolphins for division lead.
  • Low Water Mark: Three straight losses to fall to 5-6.
  • Divisional Elimination: Week 16, December 22; the Bills fall to 7-8, and the 9-6 Dolphins have a tie-breaker.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 16, December 22; the Jets and Patriots go to 8-7 with tie-breakers.
  • Playoff Picture: One game out of the division and both wild card spots.

2003 Buffalo Bills (6-10)

  • High Water Mark: 2-0 with a 31-0 opening win against the Patriots.
  • Low Water Mark: Four straight losses to fall to 4-7.
  • Division Elimination: Week 13, November 30; the Bills fall to 5-7 while the Patriots go to 10-2.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 14, December 14; the Bills fall to 6-8 while the Broncos are 9-5.
  • Playoff Picture: Eight games out of the division, four games out of the wild card.

2004 Buffalo Bills (9-7)

  • High Water Mark: Six straight wins to get to 9-6 and control their own destiny in Week 17.
  • Low Water Mark: Losing to the Steelers, who were resting their starters.
  • Division Elimination: Week 13, December 5; the Patriots fly to 11-1 with the Bills at 6-6.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 17, January 2; loss (9-7) to Steelers allows Jets and Broncos in at 10-6.
  • Playoff Picture: Five games out of the division, one game out of the wild card.

2005 Buffalo Bills (5-11)

  • High Water Mark: 3-3 after consecutive divisional wins.
  • Low Water Mark: Five-game losing streak to fall to 4-10.
  • Division Elimination: Week 14, December 11; the Patriots beat 4-9 Bills to go to 8-5.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 14, December 11; the Jaguars, Steelers and Chiefs go four games up.
  • Playoff Picture: Five games out of the division, six games out of the wild card.

2006 Buffalo Bills (7-9)

  • High Water Mark: 7-7 after consecutive divisional wins.
  • Low Water Mark: 2-5 heading into the bye after 28-6 loss to Patriots.
  • Division Elimination: Week 14, December 10; the Patriots own tie-breaker at 9-4 over 6-7 Bills.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 16, December 24; the Bills fall to 7-8 with the Broncos and Jets at 9-6.
  • Playoff Picture: Five games out of the division, two games out of the wild card.

2007 Buffalo Bills (7-9)

  • High Water Mark: 5-4 after four straight wins.
  • Low Water mark: 1-4 heading into the bye week.
  • Division Elimination: Week 12, November 25; the Patriots go to 11-0 with tie-breaker while the Bills fall to 5-6.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 15, December 16; the Bills lose to the Browns and fall two games plus tie-breaker behind.
  • Playoff Picture: Nine games out of the division, three games out of the wild card.

2008 Buffalo Bills (7-9)

  • High Water Mark: 5-1 after beating the Chargers.
  • Low Water Mark: Losing 7-of-8 to fall to 6-8 overall.
  • Division Elimination: Week 15, December 14; the Bills fall to 6-8 with the Patriots and Dolphins 9-5.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 15, December 14; the Bills fall to 6-8, with AFC East and South three games ahead.
  • Playoff Picture: Four games out of the division, four games out of the wild card.

2009 Buffalo Bills (6-10)

  • High Water Mark: 3-4 after back-to-back wins.
  • Low Water Mark: Falling to 1-4 after a brutal 6-3 loss to the Browns.
  • Division Elimination: Week 15, December 20; the Bills lose to the 9-5 Patriots to fall to 5-9.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 15, December 20; the Ravens and Broncos are 8-6.
  • Playoff Picture: Four games out of the division, three out of the wild card.

2010 Buffalo Bills (4-12)

  • High Water Mark: 4-2 record in games 9-14 including overtime loss to the Steelers.
  • Low Water Mark: Winless in first eight games.
  • Division Elimination: Week 12, Thanksgiving November 25; Patriots go 9-2 with idle Bills 2-8.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 12, November 28; the Ravens, Steelers and Jets eliminate 2-9 Bills
  • Playoff Picture: 10 games out of the division, seven games out of the wild card

2011 Buffalo Bills (6-10)

  • High Water Mark: 5-2 after a 23-0 drubbing of the Redskins.
  • Low Water Mark: Seven consecutive losses to fall to 5-9.
  • Division Elimination: Week 14, December 11; the Bills fall to 5-8 while the Patriots climb to 10-3.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 15, December 18; the Bills fall to 5-9, while the Bengals and Titans both eliminate Buffalo.
  • Playoff Picture: Seven games out of the division, three games and tiebreaker out of the wild card.

2012 Buffalo Bills (Currently 5-9)

  • High Water Mark: 2-1 after consecutive victories.
  • Low Water Mark: Four losses by 20 or more points.
  • Division Elimination: Week 13, December 2; the Bills win but the Patriots climb to 9-3 with the tie-breaker.
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 15, December 16; the Bills fall to 5-9 behind 9-5 Colts, 8-6 Bengals
  • Playoff Picture: Currently five games out of the division and three out of the wild card with two games left.

Averages

  • Division Elimination: Week 13, December 7
  • Wild Card Elimination: Week 14, December 15

Totals Games:

  • After Divisional Elimination: 44 including remaining 2012 games
  • After Wild Card Elimination: 29 including remaining 2012 games

The Bills usually play at least two games without any hope of making the playoffs, and three without any hope of winning the division. Under the proposed playoff expansion, each conference would add two Wild Card teams. Even then, Buffalo would not have made it in the last 13 seasons. They finished ninth in 2004 after the tie-breakers were assigned.

Buffalo's 29 games played after being eliminated from the playoff hunt is just part of the number of otherwise meaningless games where they were eliminated "in spirit," but still mathematically alive.

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