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Buffalo Bills playoff elimination scenarios, Week 16

There are a few ways the Bills can stay alive until Week 17 - and they are realistic!

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 playoff drought is 16 years old. Two two-term Presidents have come and gone but a Bills’ playoff berth has eluded the team since Bill Clinton was in the White House. On Saturday, Buffalo could be eliminated again and see another Presidential inauguration come to the drought. Here’s how.

If Buffalo loses

We will start here since it’s easiest. A Buffalo loss to the Miami Dolphins officially eliminates them.

If Buffalo wins

If the 7-7 Bills pull off the home win against the 9-5 Miami Dolphins, they can stave off elimination. It keeps Miami within reach if they can lose in Week 17 and gives Buffalo their much-needed eighth win of the year.

Buffalo can still be eliminated with a win, though. If the Baltimore Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, each team will have nine wins and a better conference record than Buffalo could hope to achieve plus both have a win over the Bills. Head-to-head, Buffalo would miss the playoffs thanks to those earlier losses. Even in a three-way tie scenario, these two teams would beat the Bills on the conference record tiebreaker. We need Pittsburgh to win this week.

Another elimination scenario exists in the AFC South. Both the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans are currently 8-6. If they both win this Sunday, it will be impossible for Buffalo to pass both of them. One of them would go on to win the AFC South at 10-6 in the final week of the season while the other would finish ahead of the Bills in the Wild Card race at 9-7. A Texans win moves them to 7-4 in the conference, which Buffalo can’t beat. The Bills are currently at 4-6 in the AFC and with two wins down the stretch, the best they can hope for is 6-6. A Titans win moves them to 6-5 in the AFC, so a loss next week would still keep them tied with Buffalo but they have the edge against common opponents. Tennessee is currently 3-1 against Jacksonville, Cleveland, Miami, and Oakland but their victory over the Jaguars in Week 16 would push them to 4-1. Buffalo is 2-2 against those same teams and a win in Week 16 would only get them to 3-2, securing a tiebreaker win for Tennessee.

Not eliminated but...

There is one more game to consider. The Oakland Raiders and the Indianapolis Colts play late on Saturday. If the Colts beat Oakland, Indianapolis would only need to beat Jacksonville in the final week of the season to finish ahead of Buffalo thanks to their record vs common opponents. Not only that, it would clinch homefield advantage for the New England Patriots, giving them no reason to play their starters for the entire game again Miami in Week 17. Buffalo needs a Miami loss in Week 17. So while a Colts win wouldn’t mathematically eliminate Buffalo, it would make them the longest of long shots.

The Bills will be eliminated this week if ...

  • Buffalo loses


  • Baltimore wins


  • Tennessee AND Houston win