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AFC Playoff Picture: Buffalo Bills Rooting Interests, Week 15

Buffalo can clinch a playoff spot this weekend.

The Buffalo Bills can clinch a playoff spot this weekend, but beyond that they also could use some help to move closer to securing the third or fourth seed and avoid playing the Kansas City Chiefs until the AFC Championship Game.

Before we get into the rooting interests, here are the standings and playoff picture in the AFC:

Overall Standings

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

Playoff Standings

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

Here are the Buffalo Bills’ rooting interests for Week 15 in order of importance to their overall playoff seed:

Buffalo Bills (10-3) over Denver Broncos (5-8)
Saturday, December 19 4:30 p.m. EST

The Bills can run to 13-3 and likely secure themselves the two seed in the AFC. That would mean they host two playoff games before the AFC Championship but also means they wouldn’t have to face the Chiefs until that game, either. Buffalo clinches the AFC East with a win and I’m sure they would rather do it with a W than with a Dolphins loss.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1) over Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)
Monday Night Football

With a third consecutive Steelers loss, the Bills would move into second place if they also win. Pittsburgh plays Indianapolis and Cleveland over the last two weeks, so it’s more likely to happen to them during those games. Moving up to the two seed means they would play the team with the worst record in the AFC Wild Card slots.

Detroit Lions over Tennessee Titans (9-4)
Sunday, December 20 1:00 p.m. EST

If the Bills drop one game, they’ll be in a tie with the Titans but Tennessee owns the tiebreaker over Buffalo. We do not want that to happen. If Tennessee loses, it gives the Bills breathing room.

New Orleans Saints over Kansas City Chiefs (12-1)
Sunday, December 20 4:25 p.m. EST

It’s a pipe dream that Buffalo can still get the one seed. A handful of scenarios exist with a three-way tie at 13-3 where the Bills pass the Chiefs, but it’s more likely that the Bills will need three straight losses from Kansas City in order to pass them. That’s unlikely, but at least this week the 10-3 Saints stand a chance.

New England Patriots (6-7) over Miami Dolphins (8-5)
Sunday, December 20 1:00 p.m. EST

Don’t root for the Patriots, root against the Dolphins. If Buffalo beats the Broncos on Saturday, this game won’t really matter to Buffalo other than giving Miami a worse draft pick. If the Bills lose on Saturday, a Dolphins loss would still clinch the division for Buffalo.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-12) over Baltimore Ravens (8-5)
Sunday, December 20 1:00 p.m. EST

If the Bills fail to beat Denver on Saturday, a Ravens loss would clinch at least a Wild Card spot for Buffalo. Hopefully this game won’t matter for Buffalo’s chances and then it’ll be about who the Bills face in the playoffs.

Houston Texans (4-9) over Indianapolis Colts (9-4)
Sunday, December 20 1:00 p.m. EST

If the Bills win out, Indianapolis can’t catch them. If Indianapolis wins the AFC South, we want them a game back. I think Buffalo would win all the tiebreaker scenarios against Indy, but having them at 11-5 as the AFC South winner wouldn’t hurt Buffalo. Plus, the Bills get the added benefit of driving down the Texans’ 2021 first-round pick that’s now in the hands of the Dolphins.

New York Giants over Cleveland Browns (9-4)
Sunday Night Football

If the Bills win out, Cleveland can’t catch them. If the Browns win out and take over the AFC North lead, the Bills will want to be a game ahead of them. This will give Buffalo another game of breathing space.

San Francisco 49ers over Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, December 20, 1:00 p.m. EST
Seattle Seahawks over Washington Football Team
Sunday, December 20, 1:00 p.m. EST
New York Jets (0-13) over Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, December 20, 4:05 p.m. EST

The Bills beat the 49ers and Seahawks and the Jets twice so this ups their Strength of Victory. It’s unlikely to count after all the other tiebreakers.

Arizona Cardinals over Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, December 20 4:05 p.m. EST

After Strength of Victory is Strength of Schedule, so this is even more unlikely.

Games that don’t directly affect the Bills

Las Vegas Raiders vs Los Angeles Chargers
Carolina Panthers vs Green Bay Packers
Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Atlanta Falcons

With the Bills beating both the Raiders and Chargers, that game doesn’t matter. The Bills don’t play any of the other teams on the list.


If everything goes according to the rooting interests, the Bills will move into second place in the AFC by this time next week. Then they can put some distance between themselves and the rest of the conference while potentially gaining on the Chiefs in the race for the first round bye.

Here is what the standings would look like:

Projected Overall Standings

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

Projected Playoff Standings

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

Kansas City Chiefs BYE
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans

Rematches galore in the AFC Wild Card weekend