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Comprehensive Buffalo Bills playoff scenario breakdown

Assuming no ties, that is...

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Assuming there are no ties, there are 32 possible combinations of outcomes for the five AFC games of interest this upcoming Sunday that will determine the Buffalo Bills’ playoff seeding and opponent on Wild Card Weekend. Below is a breakdown of those outcomes and the statistical likelihoods. Those five games are:

  1. Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
  3. Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts
  5. Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals

A note on seeding: Of the 32 combinations of wins and losses, only eight of them (25 percent) leave the Bills with the three seed rather than the two seed. All eight of those combinations include the Bills losing to the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers beating the Cleveland Browns.


Probabilities entering Week 17

  • Baltimore Ravens as Wild Card opponent - 37.5 percent
  • Cleveland Browns as Wild Card opponent - 25 percent
  • Miami Dolphins as Wild Card opponent - 18.75 percent
  • Tennessee Titans as Wild Card opponent - 9.38 percent
  • Indianapolis Colts as Wild Card opponent - 9.38 percent

Probabilities if the Bills WIN Week 17

  • Miami Dolphins as Wild Card opponent - 37.5 percent
  • Baltimore Ravens as Wild Card opponent - 25 percent
  • Cleveland Browns as Wild Card opponent - 25 percent
  • Tennessee Titans as Wild Card opponent - 6.25 percent
  • Indianapolis Colts as Wild Card opponent - 6.25 percent

Probabilities if the Bills LOSE Week 17

  • Baltimore Ravens as Wild Card opponent - 50 percent
  • Cleveland Browns as Wild Card opponent - 25 percent
  • Tennessee Titans as Wild Card opponent - 12.5 percent
  • Indianapolis Colts as Wild Card opponent - 12.5 percent
  • Miami Dolphins as Wild Card opponent - 0 percent

The three ways the Bills could play the Tennessee Titans

  1. BUF win + PIT loss + TEN loss + IND win + BAL win
  2. BUF loss + PIT win + TEN loss + IND win + BAL loss
  3. BUF loss + PIT loss + TEN loss + IND win + BAL loss

Rule of Thumb: to play the Titans, the Titans MUST lose and the Colts MUST win.

The three ways the Bills could play the Indianapolis Colts

  1. BUF win + PIT loss + TEN win + IND win + BAL win
  2. BUF loss + PIT win + TEN win + IND win + BAL loss
  3. BUF loss + PIT loss + TEN win + IND win + BAL loss

Rule of Thumb: to play the Colts, the Titans and the Colts MUST BOTH win.

The six ways the Bills could play the Miami Dolphins

  1. BUF win + PIT win + TEN win + IND win + BAL win
  2. BUF win + PIT win + TEN loss+ IND win + BAL win
  3. BUF win + PIT loss + TEN win + IND win + BAL loss
  4. BUF win + PIT loss + TEN win + IND loss + BAL win
  5. BUF win + PIT loss + TEN loss + IND win + BAL loss
  6. BUF win + PIT loss + TEN win + IND loss + BAL win

Rule of Thumb: to play the Dolphins, the Bills MUST beat them in week 17

The eight ways the Bills could play the Cleveland Browns

  1. BUF win + PIT win + TEN win + IND loss + BAL win
  2. BUF win + PIT win + TEN win + IND loss + BAL loss
  3. BUF win + PIT win + TEN lose + IND loss + BAL win
  4. BUF win + PIT win + TEN loss + IND loss + BAL loss
  5. BUF loss + PIT loss + TEN win + IND win + BAL win
  6. BUF loss + PIT loss + TEN win + IND loss + BAL win
  7. BUF loss + PIT loss + TEN loss + IND win + BAL win
  8. BUF loss + PIT loss + TEN loss + IND loss + BAL win

Rule of Thumb: to play the Browns, the Bills and the Steelers MUST have the same outcome

The 12 ways the Bills could play the Baltimore Ravens

  1. BUF win + PIT win + TEN win + IND win + BAL loss
  2. BUF win + PIT win + TEN loss + IND win + BAL loss
  3. BUF win + PIT loss + TEN win + IND loss + BAL loss
  4. BUF win + PIT loss + TEN loss + IND loss + BAL loss
  5. BUF loss + PIT win + TEN win + IND win + BAL win
  6. BUF loss + PIT win + TEN win + IND loss + BAL win
  7. BUF loss + PIT win + TEN win + IND loss + BAL loss
  8. BUF loss + PIT win + TEN loss+ IND win + BAL win
  9. BUF loss + PIT win + TEN loss + IND loss + BAL win
  10. BUF loss + PIT win + TEN loss+ IND loss + BAL loss
  11. BUF loss + PIT loss + TEN win + IND loss + BAL loss
  12. BUF loss + PIT loss + TEN loss + IND loss + BAL loss

Rule of Thumb: there’s a pretty good chance we are playing the Ravens...