Last week I gave incorrect information on which AFC teams needed to lose how many games in order for the Bills to advance, I had the tie breaker record out of order in my mind. Head to head record is the first tie break and Division Win/Loss record is second. Read more here: http://www.nfl.com/standings/tiebreakingprocedures
As a result, here's what needs to happen for Buffalo to make the playoffs:
Bills win 5 games (most important thing, and seems unlikely). Browns, Titans, Chargers, Steelers and Raiders all need to lose 2 more games (reasonable, they don't have easy schedules and we're just asking that they finish 4-2). Jets need to lose to the Dolphins once and to one other team, or lose 3 times (reasonable, they still face a hungry Panthers team). The Ravens need to lose once (Bills hold the head to head tie breaker, reasonable). The Dolphins need to lose 1 game to a non-Buffalo opponent (Bills will hold the head to head tie breaker, reasonable). Ravens need to lose once (Bills hold the head to head tie breaker, reasonable). Eliminated in this scenario: Texans & Jaguars. Assumptions in this scenario: Patriots, Colts, Bengals will win enough games to lock up their Divisions, and the Chiefs and Broncos will take their Division and 1 Wild Card spot.
Bills lose 1 or 2 games, and all the teams mentioned above need 1 or 2 more losses as well (including the Texans, the Jags need a loss if the Bills lose 2).
The Patriots lose 6 of their 7 remaining games (they play the Panthers tonight), the Bills win all 5 of their remaining games, the Jets and Dolphins don't top 9 wins. This is the least likely scenario, but who knows, maybe the Panthers injure Brady, and Ryan Mallet stinks it up?
What I view as likely to happen:
Bills finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs. They lose to the Patriots in Week 17. TV announcers love to say "Maybe the Patriots will have nothing to play for in Week 17." Yeah, cause that's ever happened.
#1 seed: The Broncos win out.
#2 seed: The Patriots only lose to the Broncos going 13-3.
#4 seed: The Bengals finish 11-5, losing to the Colts.
#5 seed: The Chiefs finish 12-4, losing to the Broncos, and the Chargers twice
#6 seed: Changed from last week. The Dolphins finish 9-7, losing to the Patriots and Bills.
The Dolphins making it in is the diciest proposition. Mostly because they have a tough schedule (Panthers, at Jets, at Steelers, Patriots, at Bills, Jets), but they also pulled it out against the Chargers despite their locker room/media distraction. They might be able to fuel that into an Us vs The World mentality. Plus they were 7-9 last year and seemed to be moving in the right direction. The Panthers at home and Steelers on the road though are not easy outs.
Chargers finish no better than 8-8, losing to the Broncos and Bengals (reasonable, this assumes 2 wins over the Chiefs).
Jets finish 7-9, with losses to the Ravens, Dolphins twice, and Panthers (seems like a stretch losing to the Dolphins twice).
Ravens finish 7-9 with losses to the Lions, Patriots and Bengals.
Titans finish 7-9 with losses to the Broncos, Colts, and Raiders (Raiders on the road this coming week, the Raiders have everything to play for still and just won a close one on the road, Titans have Fitz at QB).
Browns finish 6-10. Raiders and Steelers finish 5-11. Texans finish 4-12. Jags 1-15.
So let's get into the scenario where the Bills win every non-Patriot game and finish 8-8. The AFC is incredibly weak this year outside of the top 5 teams. The Chargers aren't finishing above 8-8. Neither are the Titans, Ravens, Browns, Raiders or Steelers. Basically that leaves us with the Dolphins and Jets to worry about.
Jets schedule: Ravens, Dolphins, Raiders, Panthers, Browns, Dolphins.
Dolphins schedule: Panthers, Jets, Steelers, Patriots, Bills, Jets.
The Dolphins certainly look like they have the tougher schedule. Losing to the Panthers next week would certainly do us a big favor. What I think is more reasonable is that the Jets lose terribly to the Ravens on the road. We just gave the Ravens a whole lot of tape on how to beat Geno Smith, and that could be the nail in the coffin as far as his confidence is concerned for this season. Also, I think the Dolphins are going to try and turn their locker room situation into an Us Vs The World scenario, they just knocked a decent Chargers team back, and they'll use that as a confidence builder to take into the Panthers game (I really wish the Jets Dolphins game was this coming week, and that the Panthers had an easy opponent this coming week so they could pick up steam and get wins against both the Jets and Dolphins).
In any event, if the Jets and Dolphins split, then there's only 2 more losses the Jets need and one for the Dolphins (aside from the Bills). Ravens, and Panthers for Jets, Bills and Patriots for the Dolphins seems reasonable. Dolphins would have a 1-3 record (beating the Jets once), Bills a 3-1 record (losing to the Jets once), Jets a 2-2 record (splits) and we'd advance on the first tie breaker. A lot of this is going to depend on the Panthers. I feel like a Monday night game against the Patriots is going to deflate them, and then they'll have a short week against the resurgent Dolphins. Hopefully I'm wrong about them. It'd be nice to see them win all 3 of their remaining AFC East games...
So, I think the Dolphins makes the playoffs in San Diego's stead, but I would not at all be surprised to see an 8-8 team grab a wild card slot in the AFC (and I would be surprised to see a 10-6 team take the last wild card slot).
#2 Seed: Saints finish 13-3, losing to the Seahawks on the road.
#3 Seed: Lions finish 12-4 winning out.
#5 & 6 Seed: 49ers and Bears finish 12-4 (Lions hold head to head win over the Bears). Both win out.
Packers finish 9-7.
Panthers finish 8-8.