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AFC Playoff Picture: here’s how the Buffalo Bills can clinch a playoff spot in Week 14

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It can be done.

The Buffalo Bills can officially claim one of the six playoff spots in the AFC this coming weekend. Buffalo hasn’t sewn up a playoff spot early since 1999. In 2017, they made the playoffs in the last few seconds of the late afternoon games, so this is pretty remarkable stuff in Western New York.

Full AFC Playoff Standings

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

For starters, if the Bills wanted to clinch a playoff spot in Week 14, they would need to do something no one has been able to do in a while; beat the Baltimore Ravens and their exciting quarterback, Lamar Jackson.

With a win, Buffalo would have ten wins and seven conference wins. That’s the benchmark we will set for now.

With nine wins, Buffalo has already passed the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, and Jacksonville Jaguars. If they beat Baltimore, they get past the Cleveland Browns.

10. Cleveland Browns (5-7, 5-4 AFC)
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8, 4-5 AFC)
12. Los Angeles Chargers (4-8, 2-7 AFC)
13. New York Jets (4-8, 1-7 AFC)
14. Denver Broncos (4-8, 4-5 AFC)
15. Miami Dolphins (3-9)
16. Cincinnati Bengals (1-11)

A loss by the Indianapolis Colts would get them to seven losses, allowing Buffalo to clinch a better record.

9. Indianapolis Colts (6-6, head-to-head loss to OAK)

A loss by the Pittsburgh Steelers would put them at six losses, but with a 6-3 conference record, if they ran the table they would be at 9-3 in the AFC plus have a head-to-head win over Buffalo. The Bills can’t clinch a playoff spot over the Steelers this week.

There is, however, a way. If the Denver Broncos beat the Houston Texans this week, Houston would fall to 8-5. The Titans beating Houston twice would move Tennessee into the lead in the AFC South and Houston would be 9-7, behind Buffalo in the Wild Card. (Houston could lose any of their remaining games to have the same overall effect on their record.) The Texans beating Tennessee once would move the Titans to 9, eliminating Tennessee from Buffalo’s scenarios.

Here’s the clinching scenario:

Buffalo beat Baltimore AND
Denver beats Houston AND
Tampa Bay beats Indianapolis AND
Tennessee beats Oakland

This would guarantee that Buffalo would finish in the top two for the Wild Card. Now they just have to beat the Ravens...