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Buffalo Bills Playoff Picture: Chances Hang By A Thread

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The Buffalo Bills (5-6) had a chance to knock off the New York Jets and put their post-season hopes on ice yesterday. Instead, they shot themselves in the foot with dumb penalties and costly mistakes, altering their tenuous status from a team in the hunt to a team that needs a miracle.

The bad news began on Thanksgiving when the Baltimore Ravens were able to top the San Fransisco 49ers and push their record to 8-3. The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers both won and got to 8-3 on Sunday, and the Cincinnati Bengals notched a late-game win that put them at 7-4 with the first tie-breaker in hand over Buffalo. With that, the Bills are essentially three games behind four teams with only five weeks remaining.

If you're still holding out hope for the playoffs, you can at least be encouraged that the Bills didn't play awful on Sunday. They have just dug themselves into too large a hole to get out of just one month after being the second-seeded team in the AFC hunt.

If the playoffs began today, here's what the field would look like:

No. 1 - Houston Texans (8-3)
No. 2 - New England Patriots (8-3, lose AFC record tie-breaker to HOU)
No. 3 - Baltimore Ravens (8-3, lose AFC record tie-breaker to HOU and NE)
No. 4 - Oakland Raiders (7-4)
No. 5 - Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3, lose head-to-head tie-breaker to BAL)
No. 6 - Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

No. 7 (OUT) - Denver Broncos (6-5)
No. 8 (OUT) - New York Jets (6-5, lose AFC record tie-breaker to DEN)
No. 9 (OUT) - Tennessee Titans (6-5, lose AFC record tie-breaker to DEN, lose strength of victory tie-breaker to NYJ)
No. 10 (OUT) - Buffalo Bills (5-6)
Also rans: Kansas City Chiefs (4-7), San Diego Chargers (4-7), Cleveland Browns (4-7), Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8), Miami Dolphins (3-8), Indianapolis Colts (0-11)

While Buffalo won't have a tough time moving to the No. 8 spot, they are two games behind the Jets because of New York's season sweep. In reality, it's now likely the Bills won't finish in the top half of the AFC.