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NFL Playoff Picture: AFC’s sixth spot definitely earning the name Wild Card heading into Week 11

The Bills are still very much alive in the playoff conversation in a strange AFC race.

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 AFC’s top five playoff spots seem pretty set ten weeks into the season, at least from a Buffalo Bills perspective. The sixth and final spot, last earned by the 2017 Buffalo Bills, is a free-for-all worthy of the Wild Card name. Let’s take a look at the standings.

The first four spots are reserved for divisional winners. The New England Patriots (7-3) are two games clear of the Miami Dolphins (5-5) in the AFC East. The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are back at 3-7 with Buffalo holding a tiebreaker over New York currently.

In the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1) are a game and a half up on the 5-4 Cincinnati Bengals. At 4-5 and with a doubtful Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens’ 2.5-game deficit seems like a lot to overcome. The Browns at 3-6-1 are better than they have been in the past.

The AFC South is always a tight race, and this year is no different with the 6-3 Houston Texans holding a game lead over the 5-4 Tennessee Titans. The 4-5 Indianapolis Colts and 3-6 Jacksonville Jaguars are not out of it yet.

The AFC West is setting up with two playoff teams in the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs and the 7-2 Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers are up two games on the next closest AFC Wild Card opponent and are squarely in the driver’s seat. The 3-6 Denver Broncos and 1-8 Oakland Raiders are way in the rear view mirror.

So New England, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Los Angeles seem pretty confident while the AFC South will have a winner and a Wild Card contender probably around the .500 mark. So the question really is, with the easiest schedule down the stretch, can the Bills make a run at the playoffs? Sure, why not?

In Buffalo’s remaining games, only one team has a winning record (New England). The Bills’ defense has been shutting down folks all year. If the offense can slow down for rookie Josh Allen on his return and the offense continues to hold their own, the Bills could make a run. I wouldn’t go predicting it or anything, but it’s at least possible a 9-7 or 8-8 Bills team makes it. Look back on this article heading into Week 17 and you’ll see at least one eight-win team in the mix for the postseason.

Here’s the complete playoff picture with tiebreakers included. No AFC team has been eliminated and it’ll be a couple weeks until that happens.

AFC Playoff Picture

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1)
  3. New England Patriots (7-3)
  4. Houston Texans (6-3)
  5. Los Angeles Chargers (7-2)
  6. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4, 3-2 AFC record)
  7. Tennessee Titans (5-4, 3-4 AFC record)
  8. Miami Dolphins (5-5)
  9. Baltimore Ravens (4-5, 4-3 AFC record)
  10. Indianapolis Colts (4-5, 3-4 AFC record)
  11. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1)
  12. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6, 2-4 AFC record)
  13. Denver Broncos (3-6, 1-5 AFC record)
  14. Buffalo Bills (3-7, head-to-head win over NYJ)
  15. New York Jets (3-7, head-to-head loss to BUF)
  16. Oakland Raiders (1-8)