The Buffalo Bills (9-3) do not control their own destiny in the race for the AFC East title. The New England Patriots (10-2) lost on Sunday night, handing them their second loss of the season but it’s going to take more than that for Buffalo to have a chance.
Here is the order of the divisional tiebreaker:
1. Overall record
If both teams run the table and Buffalo beats New England in Week 16, both teams would be 13-3 so it would move to the next tiebreaker.
2. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
In this scenario, Buffalo beats New England in Week 16, giving them an even 1-1 record against each other in 2019.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
In the scenario laid out, the Bills and Patriots would be 5-1 in the AFC East with their only loss coming to each other.
4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
This is where folks are confused. In the Wild Card race, the next tiebreaker is conference record, but not in the divisional tiebreaker. Because the divisional squads play so many common opponents, it is the higher tiebreaker. Buffalo lost to the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns. The Patriots beat both of those teams. The only change down the stretch would be Buffalo beating the Baltimore Ravens, a team that bested New England.
That gives Buffalo two losses vs common opponents and New England would only have one. The Patriots win the tiebreaker and the AFC East division in a hypothetical 13-3 season.
If the Bills were to win the division, they would need another Patriots loss. New England plays the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, and Miami Dolphins in addition to the Bills. The games against Cincy and Miami are more important since they are common opponents with Buffalo, but they are also two of the worst teams in the NFL.
If Buffalo beats Baltimore this week and New England loses to Kansas City, the Bills would again control their own destiny. That’s a pretty big ask with how Baltimore is playing now.