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AFC Playoff Picture: Buffalo Bills rooting interests, Week 13

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Lots can go right for Buffalo this week.

The Buffalo Bills enter Week 13 with a two-game lead in the AFC Wild Card race. While they can’t clinch a playoff spot this week, they could get within spitting distance if things break their way.

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

Full AFC Standings

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

Full AFC Playoff Standings

1. New England Patriots (10-1)
2. Baltimore Ravens (9-2)
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. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5, 5-3 AFC)
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7. Oakland Raiders (6-5, 4-3 AFC, head-to-head win over IND)
8. Indianapolis Colts (6-5, 5-5 AFC, head-to-head win over TEN, head-to-head loss to OAK)
9. Tennessee Titans (6-5, 4-4 AFC, head-to-head loss to IND)
10. Cleveland Browns (5-6, 5-3 AFC)
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6, 4-4 AFC)
12. Los Angeles Chargers (4-7, 2-6 AFC)
13. New York Jets (4-7, 1-6 AFC)
14. Denver Broncos (3-8)
15. Miami Dolphins (2-9)


Buffalo Bills (8-3) over Dallas Cowboys
Thursday, November 28, 4:30 PM Eastern

If we’re being honest, a nine-win team is probably going to make the playoffs in the AFC. If Buffalo can get to nine wins with four games left, they will be in a very strong position. A loss won’t kill them, but sheesh a win would be nice.

Tennessee Titans (6-5) over Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
Sunday, December 1, 1:00 PM Eastern

Buffalo’s head-to-head win over the Titans really comes into play here if Tennessee is the top Wild Card team from the AFC South.

Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) over Oakland Raiders (6-5)
Sunday, December 1, 4:25 PM Eastern

Unlike in other spots where we want to even out records, in this case we want the Chiefs to run away with the division at the expense of the Wild Card Raiders. Making it as difficult as possible for Oakland to make the postseason will help Buffalo clinch.

Cleveland Browns (5-6) over Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
Sunday, December 1, 1:00 PM Eastern

The AFC North rivals evening out their records at six losses apiece would help Buffalo clinch a Wild Card spot earlier rather than later.

Houston Texans (7-4) over New England Patriots (10-1)
Sunday, December 1, 8:20 PM Eastern

Technically, you should root for the Patriots this week because the Texans are locked in an AFC South fight and could end up as the Wild Card in direct competition with Buffalo and because the Patriots have a tiebreaker stranglehold on the Bills, Buffalo’s chances of winning the AFC East are almost zero. If you are a normal WNY human, you should root for the Texans and the chance at a Bills’ division crown plus you don’t want New England to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. Our rooting interest post typically is only concerned with making the playoffs, but we have limits.

San Francisco 49ers over Baltimore Ravens (8-2)
Sunday, December 1, 1:00 PM Eastern

The best match-up of the week can go one of two ways. If you think the Patriots are going to keep winning and secure the AFC East, you should root for Baltimore to win here so they get home-field advantage over New England. If you think Buffalo has a shot of winning the AFC East, go with a Ravens loss so Buffalo can pass them for that same home-field advantage. For now, we are just worried about “making the playoffs”, which means we should root for the NFC team over the AFC team, but it’s not likely to make much of a difference for Buffalo.

Denver Broncos (3-8) over Los Angeles Chargers (4-7)
Sunday, December 1, 4:25 PM Eastern

This helps Buffalo’s strength of victory and strength of schedule while putting the Bills permanently ahead of the Chargers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)
Sunday, December 1, 1:00 PM Eastern

This would end any threat of the Jaguars making the postseason over Buffalo, but it’s highly unlikely that would happen anyway.

Miami Dolphins (2-9) over Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, December 1, 1:00 PM Eastern

This outcome would help Buffalo’s strength of victory and strength of schedule but that’s way down the list. Buffalo has already clinched a playoff spot ahead of Miami.

New York Jets (4-7) over Cincinnati Bengals (0-11)
Sunday, December 1, 1:00 PM Eastern

This outcome would help Buffalo’s strength of victory and strength of schedule but that’s way down the list. Even if the Jets make a miraculous run to 9-7, Buffalo would win the tiebreaker over them thanks to a better divisional record.

New York Giants over Green Bay Packers
Sunday, December 1, 1:00 PM Eastern

This outcome would help Buffalo’s strength of victory and strength of schedule but that’s way down the list.

Washington over Carolina Panthers
Sunday, December 1: 1:00 PM Eastern

This outcome would help Buffalo’s strength of victory and strength of schedule but that’s way down the list.

Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions
New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons
Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams
Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings

These games don’t directly alter Buffalo’s chances of making the postseason.


We’ve highlighted the option where Buffalo is still looking to win the AFC East, so we went with Houston beating New England. The only change to make if you think Buffalo can’t win the division would be adding a win for the Patriots and the Ravens.

Full HYPOTHETICAL AFC Standings

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

Full HYPOTHETICAL AFC Playoff Standings

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

Buffalo would be one game plus a tiebreaker out of the top spot in the AFC East. Even with a win over New England later in the year, the Patriots would hold the tiebreaker at a hypothetical 13-3, so you’d need the Patriots to lose another game. There are ways for Buffalo to win a 12-4 tiebreaker in addition to the possibility of Buffalo running the table to 13-3 over a 12-4 Patriots squad.

In the Wild Card race, Buffalo could theoretically clinch a playoff spot next week by getting to 10-3 if the other teams fall to six losses with worse tiebreakers. It’s too many outcomes to speculate right now.

These outcomes would get Buffalo up to a 95% chance of making the postseason.