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Buffalo Bills will be alive in Week 17 for second time in their playoff drought

The Bills will still have something to play for in Week 17 no matter what.

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

Bills fans will get a Christmas present this year for just the second time since 1999. Only once during their 17-year playoff drought have the downtrodden Buffalo Bills even been alive heading into Week 17. This year will mark the second as Buffalo can’t possibly be eliminated from the playoff race until after Christmas.

Most of the time, the Bills have been able to make it to Week 15 without being mathematically eliminated, even if their actual chances were slim before that. Five times during the drought, they were eliminated in Week 16 including 2016.

The only other time during the drought that Buffalo has slept on Christmas Eve (and celebrated a New Year’s Eve) with the thought of the playoffs still dancing in their head was in 2004. Mike Mularkey’s Bills team was riding a six-game winning streak to get to 9-6 for a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Having already clinched their spot in the playoffs, Pittsburgh rested most of their starters but beat Buffalo anyway. If the Bills had won, they’d be in the playoffs. They didn’t and were left out in the cold.

Here’s the worst case scenario for Buffalo in Week 16:

  • Buffalo loses to New England to fall to 8-7
  • Baltimore beat Indianapolis to move to 9-6
  • Tennessee beats L.A. Rams to move to 9-6
  • Los Angeles beat New York Jets to go to 8-7

This would drop Buffalo all the way to 8th in the AFC needing two of those three other teams to lose in Week 17 with a Bills win. But they would still be alive.

No matter what happens during Week 16 in 2017, you’ll be able to talk about the Bills playoff chances and scenarios at your Christmas table before their Week 17 game against the Miami Dolphins.