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AFC Playoff Picture: Buffalo Bills Rooting Interests, Week 12

It’s a STUFFED weekend of football.

This week features Thanksgiving plus the normal bill of fare around the NFL landscape, which means we can watch more football games. Some of these games will impact how and where the Buffalo Bills play in January. As we head into Week 12, here is who we are rooting for as Bills fans.

Before we get into the rooting interests, here are the current AFC standings:

Overall Standings

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

AFC Playoff Standings

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
3. Buffalo Bills (7-3, 5-2 AFC)
4. Indianapolis Colts (7-3, win over TEN, 3-3 AFC)
5. Tennessee Titans (7-3, loss to IND, 5-3 AFC)
6. Cleveland Browns (7-3, 4-3 AFC)
7. Las Vegas Raiders (6-4, 4-3 AFC)
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8. Miami Dolphins (6-4, 3-3 AFC)
9. Baltimore Ravens (6-4, wins over CLE & IND, 4-4 AFC)


Here are the games we are rooting for in order of overall importance:

Buffalo Bills (7-3) over Los Angeles Chargers (3-7)
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Looking at the upcoming games on the Bills’ schedule, this feels like a must-win. Putting away an inferior team that falls all over themselves is a hallmark of good teams. It’s in Buffalo and an early start against a rookie QB. There are no excuses.

New York Jets (0-10) over Miami Dolphins (6-4)
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

We want the Jets to put together a few meaningless wins now that they’ve been eliminated from the playoff race. That keeps them out of the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. Having that win come against the Dolphins, who are just one game back of Buffalo, is ideal. Don’t you have any self-respect, Adam Gase? Your former team is coming to town and you’re 0-10. Do something.

Indianapolis Colts (7-3) over Tennessee Titans (7-3)
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

I’ll just say that hating the Titans and loving Frank Reich is enough here. Also, Tennessee holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over Buffalo. If both the Titans and Bills win this week, Buffalo will actually fall to the four seed because of that tiebreaker.

Baltimore Ravens (6-4) over Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0)
Thursday Night Football Sunday, 1:15 PM EST Tuesday night

This one is really a personal choice. If you think the Steelers are going to lose another game to Washington, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, or Cleveland AND Buffalo runs the table, the Bills could pass Pittsburgh. I think that’s possible, so I made this choice. Losing to Baltimore, Indy/CLE, and Buffalo would knock the Steelers to three losses and give Buffalo the tiebreaker. If you think the Bills will fall into the Wild Card race, root for the Steelers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

If Buffalo wants to climb in the standings, they need some losses by the Chiefs and Steelers. It’s more likely for Buffalo to pass Pittsburgh than Kansas City because they already lost to the Chiefs but play the Steelers later this season.

Houston Texans (3-7) over Detroit Lions
Thanksgiving, 12:30 EST

Houston traded a first-round and second-round pick to the Dolphins in the 2021 draft. We want those picks to be as low as possible. Would love to see Houston make a heroic run to 8-8. If Buffalo ends up 9-7, they’ll have more things to worry about than the Texans.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) over Cleveland Browns (7-3)
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

If Buffalo falls into the Wild Card race, they’ll want Cleveland to have more losses.

Atlanta Falcons over Las Vegas Raiders (6-4)
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

The Bills have a head-to-head win over Vegas, so it’s not as essential that the Raiders lose. But if Buffalo falls into the Wild Card race over the next couple weeks, an NFC team beating the Raiders wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Arizona Cardinals over New England Patriots (4-6)
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

As long as they are alive, they are a threat.

New Orleans Saints over Denver Broncos (4-6)
Sunday, 4:00 PM EST

Buffalo can end Denver’s shot at the postseason later on, so this one isn’t really important overall. Strength of Schedule and ideally Strength of Victory tiebreakers would make us root for Denver, but those are way down the list. It’s likely to be a meaningless game for Buffalo in the long run.

Seattle Seahawks over Philadelphia Eagles
Monday Night Football

Buffalo beat Seattle so this helps with Strength of Victory and Strength of Schedule tiebreakers. Those two factors are way down the list.

Los Angeles Rams over San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

Buffalo has a win over the Rams but hasn’t played the 49ers, so this helps Strength of Victory. If Buffalo beats San Fran later in the year, it won’t matter.

Games that don’t directly impact the Bills

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Football Team
Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Giants
Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers


If this all goes Buffalo’s way, the Bills will have a 98% shot at making the postseason and 96% chance to win the AFC East, per FiveThirtyEight. Pretty good. Here is what the standings would look like a week from now:

Projected Overall Standings

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

Projected Playoff Standings

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-1)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)
3. Buffalo Bills (8-3, 6-2 AFC)
4. Indianapolis Colts (8-3, 4-3 AFC)
5. Tennessee Titans (7-4, win over BAL)
6. Baltimore Ravens (7-4, win over CLE, loss to TEN)
7. Cleveland Browns (7-4, loss to BAL)
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8. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5, 4-3 AFC)
9. Miami Dolphins (6-5, 3-4 AFC)

Pittsburgh Steelers Bye
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts