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AFC Playoff Picture: Buffalo Bills rooting interests, Week 14

Who are we rooting for this week?

With their win on Monday Night Football, the Buffalo Bills kept pace with most of the rest of the AFC, with only the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans losing among the group of playoff contenders. With that, the Bills moved past the Titans into third place in the conference.

As we continue to roll through the final month of the season, the Bills are going to need some help to move up further in the standings and could potentially need some help if they were to lose a game.

In this weekend’s rooting interests, we know that if the Bills win out they’ll be the number-three seed or better but we also want to clinch a playoff spot, the division, and ultimately the highest seed we can get so we’ve got multiple rooting interests again.

Before we get into the games, here are the current standings:

Overall Standings

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

Playoff Standings

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1, 8-0 AFC)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-1, 9-1 AFC)
3. Buffalo Bills (9-3, 6-2 AFC)
4. Tennessee Titans (8-4, 3-1 AFC, 6-4 AFC)
5. Cleveland Browns (9-3, 6-3 AFC)
6. Miami Dolphins (8-4, 4-3 AFC)
7. Indianapolis Colts (8-4, 2-2 AFCS, 4-4 AFC)
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8. Las Vegas Raiders (7-5, 5-3 AFC)
9. Baltimore Ravens (7-5, 4-5 AFC)
10. New England Patriots (6-6)


Here are the rooting interests in order of importance. I’ve prioritized long-term playoff seeding in my ranking and my picks. If you’re one of the folks who wants to clinch earlier, check out the second list.

Worrying about playoff seeding

Buffalo Bills (9-3) over Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1)
Sunday Night Football

All eyes on this marquee matchup Sunday night! If the Bills want the one or two seed, they need to win this game to bypass the Steelers. If Buffalo loses to Pittsburgh and falls to four losses with three games left, the best they can hope for is a crazy tie scenario involving the Chiefs (who would need to lose 3-of-4), Steelers (who would need to lose 3-of-4) or Browns, and Colts to get a better seed. It’s simply a must-win game in the move-up scenarios. As far as clinching a playoff spot or the division, it would be helpful but not mandatory. The Bills will still lead the division a week from today and be a near-lock for a playoff spot.

Miami Dolphins (8-4) over Kansas City Chiefs (11-1)
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

I SAID WHAT I SAID! The Bills have a chance to knock off the Dolphins in Week 17 if they need to do it. Right now they are two games and a head-to-head tiebreaker behind Kansas City in seeding. They need more help there and KC plays the Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and Los Angeles Chargers down the stretch. Not exactly a murderer’s row of opponents for Paddy Mahomes.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-11) over Tennessee Titans (8-4)
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Have some self respect, Doug. Again, we ranked this game so high because we are more concerned with seeding. If Buffalo loses, they are back in a head-to-head tie with the Titans who would pass them based on their win over Buffalo earlier in the season.

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) over Cleveland Browns (9-3)
Monday Night Football

We don’t necessarily want the Browns to pass the Steelers right now if we beat Pittsburgh. Baltimore is two games back of the Bills and won’t matter unless Buffalo is in a Wild Card situation.

Las Vegas Raiders (7-5) over Indianapolis Colts (8-4)
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

As long as Tennessee loses, Indianapolis can also lose. If the Titans win, we’d probably prefer the Colts win, too. Ultimately, we want the Colts to be the AFC South winner, but preferably at 11-5 and not 12-4.

Los Angeles Rams over New England Patriots (6-6)
Thursday Night Football

Bury them.

New York Jets (0-11) over Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

If I could put it higher on the list, I would. We want the Jets to win so they aren’t drafting first overall. This also helps Buffalo’s Strength of Victory.

San Francisco 49ers over Washington Football Team
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

Not going to matter probably, but this helps Buffalo’s Strength of Victory.

Los Angeles Chargers (3-9) over Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

Not going to matter probably, but this helps Buffalo’s Strength of Victory.

Arizona Cardinals over New York Giants
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Not going to matter probably, but this helps Buffalo’s Strength of Schedule.

Denver Broncos (4-8) over Carolina Panthers (4-8)
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Not going to matter probably, but this helps Buffalo’s Strength of Schedule.

San Francisco 49ers over Washington Football Team
Sunday, 4:25 PM Eastern

Not going to matter probably, but this helps Buffalo’s Strength of Schedule.

Houston Texans (4-8) over Chicago Bears
Sunday, 1:00 PM Eastern

Houston sent a first rounder to the Dolphins. We want that pick to be worse.

Games that don’t directly affect the Bills

Minnesota Vikings vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals
New Orleans Saints vs Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions

Projected Overall Standings

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

Projected Playoff Standings

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2, 8-1 AFC)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-2, 9-2 AFC)
3. Buffalo Bills (10-3, 7-2 AFC)
4. Tennessee Titans (8-5, 3-2 AFCS, 6-5 AFC)
5. Miami Dolphins (9-4, 5-3 AFC)
6. Cleveland Browns (9-4, 6-4 AFC)
7. Las Vegas Raiders (8-5, 6-3 AFC)
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8. Baltimore Ravens (8-5, 5-5 AFC)
9. Indianapolis Colts (8-5, 2-2 AFCS, 4-5 AFC)


Just make the playoffs

If you’re only concerned with Buffalo making the postseason, and no seeding, here is the list you need to worry about this week.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-1) over Miami Dolphins (8-4)
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Of course, the Dolphins winning would delay Buffalo clinching a playoff spot AND the division until later in the season, so it’s a calculated risk. If you’re not comfortable with going for it on fourth down, root for the Chiefs to beat the Dolphins and might as well hand KC the number-one seed while you’re at it.

Cleveland Browns (9-3) over Baltimore Ravens (7-5)
Monday Night Football
Los Angeles Rams over New England Patriots (6-6)
Thursday Night Football
Indianapolis Colts (8-4) over Las Vegas Raiders (7-5)
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

Here is the three-team parlay in addition to the Chiefs beating the Dolphins. If Buffalo wins and the Dolphins, Ravens, Patriots, and Raiders all lose, the Bills clinch a playoff spot. Safety first. All you need is a chip and a chair. Buffalo is in.

Projected Overall Standings

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

Projected Playoff Standings

1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-1, 9-1 AFC)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2, 8-1 AFC)
3. Buffalo Bills (10-3, 7-2 AFC)
4. Indianapolis Colts (9-4, 2-2 AFCS, 5-4 AFC)
5. Cleveland Browns (10-3, 7-3 AFC)
6. Tennessee Titans (8-5, 3-1 AFCS, 6-5 AFC)
7. Miami Dolphins (8-5, 4-4 AFC)
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8. Las Vegas Raiders (7-6, 5-4 AFC)
9. Baltimore Ravens (7-6, 4-6 AFC)
10. New England Patriots (6-7)