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AFC Playoff Picture: Buffalo Bills rooting interests, Week 12

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The Bills could take a commanding lead in the AFC Wild Card race this weekend.

Buffalo Bills fans are pumped and looking forward to the postseason. With a key match-up in the AFC on Thursday Night Football, a juggernaut AFC contender playing Monday night, and the AFC East leader playing a late game on Sunday, they’ll be able to watch lots of important games for the Bills this week. That’s where we come in.

Before we give you the rooting interests, here are the current AFC standings:

Full AFC Standings

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

Full AFC Playoff Standings

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


Buffalo Bills (7-3) over Denver Broncos (3-7)
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 PM Eastern

If the Bills want to make the postseason, all they have to do is beat the teams with worse records than them. They have four such games remaining and only need to win three, in all likelihood. It starts this week with a struggling offense at home against the Broncos.

New York Jets (3-7) over Oakland Raiders (6-4)
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 PM Eastern

A West Coast team travelling to the Eastern time zone for a 1:00 p.m. game tends to give an edge to the Eastern team. It could give the Bills a big leg up in the Wild Card race if New York knocks off Oakland.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-10) over Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5)
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 PM Eastern

This one seems far-fetched, but the Steelers are going to be missing several players due to injury and suspension and the Bengals have to win a game sooner or later, right?

Houston Texans (6-4) over Indianapolis Colts (6-4)
Thursday, November 21, 8:20 PM Eastern

This is a pretty clear decision according to both The New York Times Playoff Simulator and Five Thirty Eight. The Colts already beat Houston, so a win by Indy would be a monster loss for the Texans. If the Texans win, they go up by a game on the Colts in the division and even out the head-to-head tiebreaker and division record tiebreaker. The Colts have a much worse conference record right now, so the Bills would rather be facing them in a tiebreaker situation, so we are rooting for the Texans this week.

Miami Dolphins (2-8) over Cleveland Browns (4-6)
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 PM Eastern

A seventh loss would kill Cleveland’s momentum and the majority of their playoff chances.

Tennessee Titans (5-5) over Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6)
Sunday, November 24, 4:05 PM Eastern

Both the NY Times and Five Thirty Eight want the Titans to win this game. The Jaguars already beat the Titans, so a win from Jacksonville would move them ahead of the Titans via tiebreaker. We would rather see the Titans in a tiebreaker scenario, so we are rooting for them this week. It’s a bit counter-intuitive as you would think we want both teams with six losses.

Dallas Cowboys over New England Patriots (9-1)
Sunday, November 24, 4:25 PM Eastern

If you’re still holding out hope that Buffalo can win the division, the Patriots need to lose some games. Losing to an NFC team would just help Buffalo’s case and wouldn’t hurt them in any other areas.

Los Angeles Rams over Baltimore Ravens (8-2)
Monday, November 25, 8:15 PM Eastern

If you want to make the case to root for Baltimore because it will help Buffalo’s strength of schedule, I’ll listen but disagree. If the Ravens and Patriots stumble and Buffalo is in the running for a first-round bye, I want Baltimore to have this loss. Same thing if they somehow magically go on a losing streak and drop into the Wild Card race. Because they are playing an NFC team, I don’t see any reason to root for Baltimore.

New York Giants over Chicago Bears
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 PM Eastern

This helps Buffalo’s strength of victory tiebreaker.

Washington over Detroit Lions
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 PM Eastern

This helps Buffalo’s strength of victory tiebreaker.

Philadelphia Eagles over Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 PM Eastern

This helps Buffalo’s strength of schedule tiebreaker.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints
Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers

These games don’t directly impact the Bills.

Bye week: Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings


If everything goes Buffalo’s way this weekend, they would be a game plus a tiebreaker behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East. In the Wild Card race, they would be two games up with five to play. Their chances of making the playoffs would improve to 90%.

Full HYPOTHETICAL AFC Standings

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

Full HYPOTHETICAL AFC Playoff Standings

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