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Buffalo Bills will need to win out to make the 2017 postseason

No more room for error.

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills really hurt their chances of ending the playoff drought by laying another egg in a 23-3 loss that really wasn’t anywhere near that close. The Bills have three winnable games against the Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, and Miami Dolphins (again) along with a Week 16 game in Foxboro. Here’s a look at where the other playoff contenders are situated now.

Baltimore Ravens

Ravens remaining opponents: Steelers, Browns, Colts, Bengals
Current record 7-5, AFC record 5-3

Baltimore stomped the Lions to earn their seventh win. The 6-6 Bills now have four conference losses and were already behind the Ravens in tiebreakers. The only way 9-7 gets the Bills past the Ravens is if the Ravens win just one more game to finish 8-8. If the Ravens win 2 games they will have 5 conference losses and be 9-7, edging out the Bills on tiebreakers.

Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals remaining opponents: Steelers, Bears, Vikings, Lions, Ravens
Current record 5-6, AFC record 5-5

Cincinnati plays the Steelers on Monday night and that should put a stake into them.

Tennessee Titans

Titans remaining opponents: Cardinals, 49ers, Rams, Jaguars
Current record 8-4, AFC record 7-4

The Texans had the ball about the 30-yard line needing a touchdown but Tom Savage threw an interception and Tennessee got the win. They need to win one more game to improve to 9-7. Buffalo needs them to lose to the Jags as that is the only way they’ll wind up with five conference losses which Buffalo will have if the Bills finish 9-7. Do they win on tiebreakers? Well, we are talking about the Bills and missing out on the playoffs at 9-7 due to a coin flip would be just about the Bills-ian thing possible.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars remaining opponents: Seahawks, Texans, 49ers, Titans
Current record 8-4, AFC record 8-2

The Jags demolished the Colts to improve to eight wins. The Bills need them to win the division outright as they can’t have more than four conference losses. If they finish 9-7 they win on tie-breakers for the wild card slot.

Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs remaining opponents: Raiders, Chargers, Dolphins, Broncos
Current record 6-6, AFC record 4-4

The Chiefs lost a wild shootout with the Jets. They have to win three of their remaining four to get to nine wins but lose head-to-head to the Bills. They are a threat now only if they win out and get to 10-6.

Los Angeles Chargers

Chargers remaining opponents: Redskins, Chiefs, Jets, Raiders
Current record: 6-6, AFC record 4-5

The Chargers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills. Buffalo now has to hope that the Chargers win the division outright. The Chargers are a threat to win out, but even dropping one they would bump the Bills out of the playoff slots if both finish 9-7.

The truth is 9-7 doesn’t get it done and 10-6 might not be enough. The Ravens have three bad teams left (Browns, Colts, Bengals) and only need two wins to reach 9-7. The Titans have two bad teams left (Cardinals, 49ers) and only need one win to reach 9-7. Ditto for the Jaguars (Texans, 49ers), who also only need one win to get to 9-7. The Chargers are also a threat with four weak teams and needing three wins for Anthony Lynn to get to 9-7. There are too many ways for the Bills to lose out at 9-7 so a 10-6 record is going to be needed.

In order to get to 10-6 the Bills will have to take care of the weak teams and also beat the Patriots in Foxboro. Some fans seem to be hoping that New England will be resting their starters. That is highly unlikely to be the case. The 10-2 Patriots are going to pound the Dolphins and head to Pittsburgh at 11-2. Meanwhile the Steelers face a bad Bengals team on Monday night and then the Ravens. The Steelers most likely bring their own 11-2 record into the game with New England. If the Steelers win that game the Patriots spend the rest of the season playing catch up—meaning they need to win Week 16. If the Patriots beat the Steelers then they can’t sit on their 12-2 record as the Steelers – facing the Texans and Browns the last 2 weeks of the season – have a chance to get to 13-3.

Barring a Pittsburgh meltdown, the Bills will be facing a New England team with something to play for in Week 16.