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AFC Playoff Race: Buffalo Bills rooting interests, Week 11

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The Buffalo Bills lost their Week 10 game against the Cleveland Browns, inching them closer to the rest of the teams in the AFC Playoff race. With seven games left, Buffalo holds a slim one-game lead over the rest of the Wild Card field and they are a couple games back of the AFC East-leading New England Patriots.

In Week 11, there are lots of games on the schedule Bills fans should be keeping an eye on in addition to Buffalo’s tilt against the Miami Dolphins.

Before we give you which teams Bills fans should root for this week, here are the updated AFC Standings heading into Thursday:

Full AFC Standings

1. New England Patriots (8-1)
2. Baltimore Ravens (7-2)
3. Houston Texans (6-3, 5-1 AFC)
4. Buffalo Bills (6-3, 4-2 AFC)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4, 4-2 AFC)
7. Oakland Raiders (5-4, 3-2 AFC)
8. Indianapolis Colts (5-4, 4-4 AFC)
9. Tennessee Titans (5-5)
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)
11. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)
12. Denver Broncos (3-6, head-to-head win over CLE)
13. Cleveland Browns (3-6, head-to-head loss to DEN)
14. Miami Dolphins (2-7, head-to-head win over NYJ)
15. New York Jets (2-7, head-to-head loss to MIA)
16. Cincinnati Bengals (0-9)

AFC Playoff Standings

1. New England Patriots (8-1)
2. Baltimore Ravens (7-2)
3. Houston Texan (6-3, 5-1 AFC)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
5. Buffalo Bills (6-3, 4-2 AFC)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4, 4-2 AFC)
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7. Oakland Raiders (5-4, 3-2 AFC)
8. Indianapolis Colts (5-4, 4-4 AFC)
9. Tennessee Titans (5-5)
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)
11. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)
12. Denver Broncos (3-6, head-to-head win over CLE)
13. Cleveland Browns (3-6, head-to-head loss to DEN)


Buffalo Bills (6-3) over Miami Dolphins (2-7)
Sunday, November 17, 1:00 PM Eastern

The Bills need to get back to their winning ways. Miami has won two straight games, including knocking off the Wild Card-contending Colts a week ago. Buffalo can’t let their season come off the rails with a similar result.

Cleveland Browns (3-6) over Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)
Thursday, November 14, 8:20 PM Eastern

According to the New York Times Playoff Simulator, this is only the fourth-most important result for the Bills this weekend but I’m moving it to the top. Pittsburgh is currently the six seed in the AFC and they have a very easy schedule for the remainder of the year. We’ll take our chances on Cleveland winning eight in a row to get to 10-6 if it means we can knock Pittsburgh back to five losses right now.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-9) over Oakland Raiders (5-4)
Sunday, November 17, 4:25 PM Eastern

The Raiders are just one game back of the Bills but have been just as inconsistent as Buffalo. The Bengals need to get a win sooner or later, and this would be a great time for Buffalo. Oakland’s schedule is pretty darn easy coming down the stretch and they are a real threat to the Bills.

Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) over Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
Monday, November 18, 8:15 PM Eastern

The New York Times Playoff Simulator has this as the third-most important result for Buffalo this weekend. With Kansas City falling back into the conversation in the AFC Wild Card race, the more teams that Buffalo tops in record, the better off they will be if push comes to shove.

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) over Indianapolis Colts (5-4)
Sunday, November 17, 1:00 PM Eastern

For weeks now, I’ve been saying we want the AFC South to all be 8-8. This will get us to even .500 with two of the teams, at least. Indianapolis is currently tied for the sixth playoff spot, a game behind Buffalo. This gives the Bills some breathing room.

Baltimore Ravens (7-2) over Houston Texans (6-3)
Sunday, November 17, 1:00 PM Eastern

The result of this game will matter way more when we know about the results of the other games around the AFC. Baltimore’s two-game lead in the AFC North is more comfortable than Houston’s one-game spread in the South, so it’s more likely it’ll be the Texans against the Bills in the Wild Card race than the Ravens. Since this post is about making the playoffs, not worrying about home-field advantage in the postseason, we’re looking harder at the Wild Card picture.

Philadelphia Eagles over New England Patriots (8-1)
Sunday, November 17, 4:25 PM Eastern

If the Bills have any shot of winning the division, it feels like the Patriots have to lose this game against an NFC opponent. A Buffalo win and a New England loss won’t give the Bills control over their own destiny in the AFC East, but it’ll be really close. This game isn’t higher because Buffalo’s chances of winning the division are so remote at this point.

Minnesota Vikings over Denver Broncos (3-6)
Sunday, November 17, 1:00 PM Eastern

The Bills will get their shot at Denver next week, but until Denver has eight losses, we probably still want them to lose. They’ll get to seven with a loss to Minnesota, then the Bills can hand them number eight—then we can root for them to beat up on some other contenders.

New York Jets (2-7) over Washington
Sunday. November 17, 1:00 PM Eastern

This will help Buffalo’s strength of schedule and if the Bills beat New York in Week 17, it will also help their strength of victory metric.

Dallas Cowboys over Detroit Lions
Sunday, November 17, 1:00 PM Eastern

It will help Buffalo’s strength of schedule and if they win on Thanksgiving, it will boost their strength of victory.

New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers
Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
Chicago Bears vs. Los Angeles Rams

These games won’t directly affect Buffalo’s playoff chances.

Byes: Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans (5-5)


Here is what the standings would look like if all these results came to pass:

Full HYPOTHETICAL AFC Standings

1. Baltimore Ravens (8-2, head-to-head win over NE)
2. New England Patriots (8-2, head-to-head loss to BAL)
3. Buffalo Bills (7-3)
4. Houston Texan (6-4)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)
6. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-5, head-to-head win over TEN & IND, 5-3 AFC)
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5, 4-3 AFC)
8. Oakland Raiders (5-5, 3-3 AFC)
9. Indianapolis Colts (5-5, 2-1 AFC South, 4-5 AFC)
10. Tennessee Titans (5-5, 0-2 AFC South)
11. Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)
12. Cleveland Browns (4-6, head-to-head loss to DEN)
13. Denver Broncos (3-7, 3-4 AFC)
14. New York Jets (3-7, 0-6 AFC)
15. Miami Dolphins (2-8)
16. Cincinnati Bengal (1-9)

AFC HYPOTHETICAL Playoff Standings

1. Baltimore Ravens (8-2, head-to-head win over NE)
2. New England Patriots (8-2, head-to-head loss to BAL)
3. Houston Texan (6-4)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)
5. Buffalo Bills (7-3)
6. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-5, head-to-head win over TEN & IND, 5-3 AFC)
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7. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5, 4-3 AFC)
8. Oakland Raiders (5-5, 3-3 AFC)
9. Indianapolis Colts (5-5, 2-1 AFC South, 4-5 AFC)
10. Tennessee Titans (5-5, 0-2 AFC South)
11. Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)
12. Cleveland Browns (4-6, head-to-head loss to DEN)

If everything goes according to the rooting interests of the Bills, Buffalo would be a game back plus own several tiebreakers in the AFC East. In the Wild Card, they would have a two-game buffer over the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth place teams in the conference with six games left to play.

The biggest move would be Jacksonville leaping up into playoff position. Currently in tenth place, they would be up to sixth thanks to a head-to-head divisional tiebreaker and a conference record tiebreaker.