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Buffalo Bills rooting interests, Week 12: AFC South controlling playoff race

Bills fans are watching the AFC South today

Baltimore Ravens v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Right on cue, the Buffalo Bills playoff hopes now rest on getting some help around the NFL while taking care of their own business. Buffalo can start the ball rolling at 1 p.m. with a win over the struggling Kansas City Chiefs. With a hot Los Angeles Chargers team nipping at their heels, the Chiefs could be out of the AFC West lead and into the Wild Card competition soon.

There is also a divisional game in the AFC East featuring the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. With a divisional championship looking highly unlikely, the winner of that game shouldn’t matter much to Bills fans since Buffalo still has all four games against those two teams remaining on their schedule.

We won’t hold out. Here are the Bills rooting interests this week:

Buffalo Bills (5-5) over Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
Sunday, November 26, 1:00 p.m. Eastern

This is a big game for Buffalo in many ways. If they beat the faltering Chiefs and let the Chargers get into position to take the AFC West lead, the loss to L.A. won’t matter as much if they are in the AFC West lead. Buffalo will need to keep pace with the winner of the next game in the Wild Card race, too.

Houston Texans (4-6) over Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
Monday, November 27, 8:30 p.m. Eastern

Bills fans will all be able to see the second-most important game for Buffalo this week. Baltimore currently sits in the sixth spot courtesy of a tiebreaker win over the Bills. If Houston can knock them out of position, it would be very helpful for Buffalo. If both Buffalo and Baltimore win, the Ravens would still own the conference record tiebreaker.

Indianapolis Colts (3-7) over Tennessee Titans (6-4)
Sunday, November 26, 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Currently in position as the five seed, this divisional game has implications around the division and conference. Buffalo would pass the Titans with a Bills win and a Tennessee loss.

Arizona Cardinals over Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3)
Sunday, November 26, 4:25 p.m. Eastern

Because of their AFC South lead, the New York Times playoff simulator doesn’t give this game much swing, but it’s an easy call here. We don’t care about the Cardinals and we want the two leading AFC South teams closer to .500.

Cleveland Browns (0-10) over Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)
Sunday, November 26, 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Cincinnati has a head-to-head win over Buffalo in their back pocket so getting them some more losses would be nice. And for Cleveland, they have to win a game somewhere right? Why not against a struggling divisional opponent. (It’s important to remember that the head-to-head win means little in a three-way tie which is beginning to seem more and more likely in the AFC Wild Card race with so many teams bunched round .500.)

Denver Broncos (3-7) over Oakland Raiders (4-6)
Sunday, November 26, 4:25 p.m. Eastern

Buffalo owns wins over both teams so in a head-to-head tiebreaker it’s Buffalo’s spot. Keeping both teams down in the standings makes sense.

New England Patriots (8-2) over Miami Dolphins (4-6)
Sunday, November 26, 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Because Buffalo no longer controls their own AFC East destiny, this game is far down the list of important games for their playoff chances according to the New York Times playoff simulator. Buffalo can beat the Dolphins twice so getting them to their seventh loss is really not that important because the Bills can take care of their own business. If the Patriots lose, though, it could put the division back in play but we don’t see that happening.

Carolina Panthers over New York Jets (4-6)
Sunday, November 26, 1:00 p.m. Eastern

An NFC team beating an AFC Wild Card contender is an easy call.

Green Bay Packers over Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)
Sunday, November 26, 8:30 p.m. Eastern

Another NFC team beating an AFC team could help us, but the Steelers are running away with their division so it probably won’t matter.

New Orleans Saints over Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, November 26, 4:25 p.m. Eastern

Strength of schedule is way down the list of tiebreakers, but it’s still clear.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

These three games won’t alter Buffalo’s playoff chances. They have wins over both the Bucs and Falcons and don’t play the Bears, Eagles, Seahawks, or 49ers. Unless you know who is going to be tied with Buffalo, it’s difficult to forecast.

If everything goes Buffalo’s way today, they would be in fifth place in the AFC thanks to a tiebreaker win over the Titans. They would have a one game lead over the Ravens, Texans, and Chargers with the Patriots coming to town in a week.