AFC playoff picture, Week 12: Buffalo Bills rooting interests

Tom Szczerbowski

Despite an up-and-down season, the Buffalo Bills are just a game and a half out of a playoff spot right now. While they sit on their bye, who should you root for this week?

The Buffalo Bills are home on their bye sitting at 4-7. The AFC playoff race is wide open, and the Bills can afford to do some scoreboard watching this week. They currently sit at No. 14 overall in the conference, but are only 1.5 games out of a playoff spot. The fifth seed will likely go to the loser of the AFC West division, leaving one solitary spot in play.

The following games are presented in order of importance. Here's who to root for in Week 12.

Ravens (4-6) over Jets (5-5, No. 6 seed)

Buffalo doesn't face New York again, and the Jets are 1.5 games up in the standings. It's the Jets' turn to win in their see-saw season, though. Silver lining: their point differential is the worst in the league, and their conference record is just 2-5. The Ravens will have plenty of chances to lose for Buffalo make up their half-game deficit (full game if they win) on the defending champs.

Panthers (7-3) over Dolphins (5-5)

Buffalo gets a late season shot at home against Miami that they'll need to win, but the Dolphins have to lose one more game. If it comes against an NFC opponent, it's even better.

Chiefs (8-1) over Chargers (4-6)

Buffalo is all but assured of not catching Kansas City. The Chargers still have games at Denver and home against Kansas City to worry about, too. It's going to be tough for San Diego to make a run at the final spot.

Browns (4-6) over Steelers (4-6)

These next two games on our list are close to even for Bills fans. Both the Steelers and the Browns have a win in hand over the Bills, unfortunately. Pittsburgh's schedule looks much easier now coming down the stretch, with games in Baltimore and Green Bay not looking as scary even if Aaron Rodgers is back. Cleveland still has to host Chicago and play at New England, so we'll root for them this week.

Titans (4-6) over Raiders (4-6)

Tennessee has games at Denver and Indy after their trip to Oakland. The Raiders, on the other hand, travel to Dallas and the Jets in addition to home tilts against the top of the AFC West, though Peyton Manning and company could be resting in Week 16. It's probably a wash, but with a better conference record, it would be better if Tennessee came out on top.

Cardinals (6-4) over Colts (7-3)

While it looks like the Colts are going to run away with the AFC South this year, root for the AFC team to lose. If nothing else, it will hurt the strength of schedule for the Titans and strength of victory for the Chargers.

Patriots (7-3) over Broncos (9-1)
Jaguars (1-9) over Texans (2-8)
Buccaneers (2-8) over Lions (6-4)

Similar to the previous game on the list, the Patriots winning would help Buffalo's strength of schedule. Buffalo plays Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, but not Houston and Detroit, so same rules apply. It's the fifth tiebreaker, but it's a tiebreaker nonetheless.

Vikings (2-8) vs. Packers (5-5)
Bears (6-4) vs. Rams (4-6)
Cowboys (5-5) vs. Giants (4-6)
49ers (6-4) vs. Redskins (3-7)

These games don't really matter to the Bills. Play fantasy football.

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