With their win on Sunday night, the Buffalo Bills have a clear path to the number-two seed in the AFC. At 10-3, they will still need to win games down the stretch, but now they have a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Pittsburgh Steelers with the Steelers likely holding the tiebreakers in their own division. If Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh all end up tied, the Bills will be the two seed.
I think we can relax on passing the Kansas City Chiefs. It would take a lot of strange bounces for that to happen. So assuming the Bills can’t get past Kansas City, here is how they can secure the number 2 seed.
If Buffalo wins out (13-3)
If the Bills win the rest of their games against the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Miami Dolphins, they will be 13-3 overall. If the Pittsburgh Steelers lose once to either the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, or Cincinnati Bengals, they will be 13-3 overall and behind Buffalo in head-to-head tiebreaker.
Three Buffalo wins + Pittsburgh loss
If Buffalo goes 2-1 (12-4)
If the Bills win two of their remaining games against the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Miami Dolphins, they will be 12-4 overall and 9-3 in the AFC.
If the Pittsburgh Steelers lose twice total to the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, or Cincinnati Bengals, they will be 12-4 overall and behind Buffalo in terms of the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the Cleveland Browns win out, they will be 12-4 and 8-4 in the AFC. They will also be behind the Steelers because of record in AFC North games.
That brings us to the Tennessee Titans, who can win out to go 12-4. While the Titans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills, in a three-way with with TEN, PIT, and BUF, the Bills actually take the top spot. Pittsburgh and Buffalo would advance past Tennessee thanks to record in AFC games, then the Bills would best the Steelers in head-to-head. (Note: If both the Colts and Titans win out to finish tied for the AFC South crown, Tennessee wins the tiebreaker.)
Essentially, Buffalo wins a three-way tie with any of the four teams in play; Tennessee and Indianapolis as well as Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
Two Buffalo wins + two Steelers losses
If Buffalo goes 1-2 (11-5)
This is a lot more problematic with Buffalo at 11-5 and 8-4 in the AFC.
Pittsburgh would have to lose three times to drop to 11-5. Cleveland would have to lose once in their next two games against the Jets/Giants to fall to 11-5. Pittsburgh would still win the AFC North.
Tennessee and Indianapolis would each have to lose one game, with the Titans losing to Green Bay. A win for the Titans over the Packers would significantly boost their Strength of Victory providing a major hurdle for the down-the-line tiebreaker. If the Titans lose to the Lions and beat the Packers and Texans, they win Strength of Victory.
Buffalo win + three Pittsburgh losses + Cleveland loss + Indianapolis loss + Tennessee loss
Editor’s note: If I missed something, definitely let me know in the comments. I’m not a pro at this.