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AFC playoff picture, Week 15: Buffalo Bills rooting interests

The Buffalo Bills need some other games to go their way this weekend.

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills have not been eliminated from the playoff race just yet but could be by as early 4 p.m. Sunday. (Here are the elimination scenarios, by the way.) Before Week 15 continues Saturday night, here are your rooting interests.

AFC Standings

1. New England Patriots (11-2)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3, head-to-head sweep of OAK)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
4. Houston Texans (7-6, head-to-head win over TEN)
5. Oakland Raiders (10-3, head-to-head losses to KC)
6/7. Miami Dolphins/Denver Broncos (8-5)
8. Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
9. Tennessee Titans (7-6)
10. Indianapolis Colts (6-7, 4-6 AFC record)
11. Buffalo Bills (6-7, 3-6 AFC record)
12. San Diego Chargers (5-8)
13. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1)
14. New York Jets (3-9*)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10*)
16. Cleveland Browns (0-12*)

* Eliminated from the playoff race.

(Here are the tiebreaker procedures if you’d like:

Who tho root for

These games are presented in order of importance for the Bills.

New England Patriots (11-2) over Denver Broncos (8-5)

Sunday, December 18th, 4:25 p.m.

If the Broncos win this game, the Bills’ season is over. That’s why it’s even more important than a Buffalo win. Denver would take a massive tiebreaker lead in strength of victory if they topple the Patriots. Buffalo could theoretically survive a loss to the Browns, but they can’t survive a Broncos win.

Buffalo Bills (6-7) over Cleveland Browns (0-13)

Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 p.m.

An improbably run to the playoff for the Bills would start with a win against the Browns. A loss doesn’t necessarily mean Buffalo would be mathematically out, but it is difficult to see a way they could realistically make it at 8-8.

New York Jets (3-9) over Miami Dolphins (8-5)

Saturday, December 17th, 8:30 p.m.

Buffalo needs Miami to lose on game in addition to a Week 16 loss to the Bills. They face the Jets this week and Patriots in Week 17. It’s unclear if the Patriots will have anything to play for in the final week and Ryan Tannehill is out this week. The Jets are playing for their coach’s job as well as their own future and are in the Meadowlands, so it’s not exactly the longest of shots.

Philadelphia Eagles over Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 p.m.

The Bills can’t pass Baltimore in a tiebreaker scenario thanks to their head-to-head win and superior conference record, so Baltimore will need to lose twice down the stretch. They play the Eagles, Steelers, and Bengals so it’s certainly a possibility.

Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) over Tennessee Titans (7-6)

Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 p.m.

Tennessee’s strength of victory tiebreaker would go through the roof with a win against Kansas City. The Chiefs seemingly have a playoff spot locked up but are fighting with the Raiders for the division lead and number two seed so they have a lot to play for.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) over Houston Texans (7-6)

Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 p.m.

If the Texans fall to the Titans in the final week of the season, Tennessee could take the division, putting the Texans into the Wild Card race. Giving them another loss would take one more team out of a tiebreaker scenario with Buffalo.

Minnesota Vikings over Indianapolis Colts (6-7)

Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 p.m.

A Vikings win would virtually guarantee Indianapolis couldn’t pass Buffalo, even if they won their final two games to get to 8-8.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1) over Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 p.m.

It’s unlikely Buffalo will pass the Steelers, but if they do it’s because Pittsburgh loses out. Need to lose the first to lose them all.

Games that matter a smidge

Oakland Raiders (10-3) over San Diego Chargers (5-8)

Sunday, December 18th, 4:25 p.m.

The Raiders win will help with the Bills’ strength of schedule while Buffalo shouldn’t really be worried about a Chargers run. San Diego plays both 10-3 AFC West teams over their final three games.

Arizona Cardinals over New Orleans Saints

Sunday, December 18th, 4:00 p.m.

It would be a two-game swing for the Strength of victory tiebreaker. The Bills beat the Cardinals. Denver beat New Orleans.

San Francisco 49ers over Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, December 18th, 4:00 p.m.

A 49ers win would help Buffalo’s strength of victory.

Dallas Cowboys over Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday, December 18th, 8:30 p.m.

Denver beat Tampa Bay, so a loss by the Bucs would hurt the Broncos’ strength of victory. The Cowboys played the AFC North, and Buffalo won’t win a tiebreaker with Pittsburgh or Baltimore anyway.

Washington Redskins over Carolina Panthers

Monday, December 19th, 8:30 p.m.

Denver beat Carolina, so a loss by the Panthers would hurt the Broncos’ strength of victory. The Redskins played the AFC North, and Buffalo won’t win a tiebreaker with Pittsburgh or Baltimore anyway.

New York Giants over Detroit Lions
Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 p.m.

The Giants played the AFC North, and Buffalo won’t win a tiebreaker with Pittsburgh or Baltimore anyway. The Lions lost to the Titans and Texans, so a Detroit loss here would hurt their strength of victory.

Games that don’t really matter

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 p.m.

The Titans beat both of these teams. The Texans beat the Bears and lost to the Packers, so if you really need someone to root for, go Green Bay.

What it means

Buffalo could be eliminated a few different ways this week. If everything goes right, they would probably only move up one spot, though, thanks to tiebreakers going against them. The Bills need a lot of help to make the postseason. They can start by taking care of their own business against Cleveland.