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AFC Playoff Picture: Buffalo Bills’ Rooting Interests, Week 13

With the Bills playing a primetime game, there are plenty of rooting options on Sunday and beyond.

The Buffalo Bills fell from the third seed in the AFC to the fourth despite winning last week. That right there is why we push out rooting interests each week in the face of the “just handle your own business” crowd.

This week, the Bills can move up to the third spot in the AFC. They can’t clinch a playoff spot in Week 13, but they can clinch a playoff spot and even the division in Week 14 if things go their way this weekend.

With Buffalo playing on Monday Night Football, this rooting interest guide will come in handy Sunday, for the early game on Monday, and Tuesday night.

Before we give you the rooting interests, here are the updated standings:

Overall Standings

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

Playoff Standings

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


Here is who we’re rooting for this week in order from most important to least important.

Buffalo Bills (8-3) over San Francisco 49ers
Monday Night Football

The sooner the Bills clinch a playoff spot, the better. If they want the third seed to avoid playing the number-one seed off a playoff bye, they will need to beat the teams on their schedule with losing records. That includes the 49ers who are banged up and playing on the road. The circumstances surrounding the 49ers could absolutely galvanize them, forcing a tough out for Buffalo. Plus it’s a primetime game and the Bills haven’t shown they can win consistently under the lights.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1) over Miami Dolphins (7-4)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

Buffalo’s magic number is four; they need a combination of Bills wins and Dolphins losses to equal that number. If they want to clinch the division next week, they need Miami to lose. This was supposed to be a battle between Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, but both are injured, sapping the national excitement from the game.

Cleveland Browns (8-3) over Tennessee Titans (8-3)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

Buffalo has a tiebreaker loss to the Titans, which is why Tennessee is the three seed right now. After this game, Tennessee’s only game against an opponent with a winning record comes in Week 16 when they face the Packers in Green Bay. It would be nice if the Browns proved they weren’t overrated and toppled the Titans.

Washington Football Team over Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0)
Monday, 5:00 p.m. EST

It’s still more likely Buffalo passes Pittsburgh than the Chiefs. With games against Buffalo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Cleveland, that’s three potential losses for Pittsburgh on their way to a 13-3 record. If Buffalo wins out, that would be enough for the Bills to move up. If you want to eat an elephant, you do it one mouthful at a time. This is the first bite into PIT’s lead.

Denver Broncos (4-7) over Kansas City Chiefs (10-1)
Sunday Night Football

It’s pretty unlikely Buffalo can pass the Chiefs and climb in the AFC that way. KC only plays two teams with a winning record down the stretch and they own a tiebreaker on Buffalo. The Bills will need to get lucky and a game against a division rival overcoming adversity is just the trick, right!?

Los Angeles Chargers (3-8) over New England Patriots (5-6)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST

It’s weird to see the Patriots being so unimportant to Buffalo, but here we are. The Bills will be able to eliminate New England when they face each other later this month on MNF. If the Bills win that game, they’ll get to nine wins and New England will have seven losses and Buffalo will own the tiebreaker. While we wait for that glorious night, we can still root to bury the Patriots.

Indianapolis Colts (7-4) over Houston Texans (4-7)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

We want the Colts to be the AFC South champs because Buffalo loses the tiebreaker to Tennessee. If there’s a scenario where the Bills, Titans, and Colts are all tied, Buffalo could be the higher seed if Indy wins the tiebreaker with Tennessee. I don’t expect Indy to run the table to 12-4 with games against Houston, Las Vegas, and Pittsburgh left on their schedule so it’s a calculated decision. If you just want Indy to keep losing so Buffalo stays ahead of them, that’s fine, too.

New York Jets (0-11) over Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

This is more about the Jets not getting the number-one pick than it is knocking the Raiders out of playoff position. The Bills already have the tiebreaker over LV and are two games ahead.

Dallas Cowboys over Baltimore Ravens (6-5)
Tuesday, 8:05 p.m. EST

The Bills shouldn’t be very worried about the Ravens at this point in the playoff seeding, but it would be nice to not have to play against them in the Wild Card round, huh? Also, while Buffalo is two games ahead, Baltimore only plays one game against a team with a winning record for the rest of the year.

Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST

This helps Buffalo’s Strength of Victory and Strength of Schedule tiebreaker. That likely won’t come into play.

Los Angeles Rams over Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST

This helps Buffalo’s Strength of Victory tiebreaker. That likely won’t come into play.

Games that don’t directly affect the Bills

Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers

Bye week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers


If this all goes Buffalo’s way, they’ll move back into the three seed in the AFC and set themselves up to clinch the division in a week. Pretty nice. Here is what the standings would like.

Projected Overall Standings

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-2)
3. Buffalo Bills (9-3, 6-2 AFC)
4. Cleveland Browns (9-3, 6-3 AFC)
5. Tennessee Titans (8-4, H2H tie with IND, 3-1 AFCS)
6. Indianapolis Colts (8-4, H2H tie with TEN, 2-2 AFCS)
7. Miami Dolphins (7-5, 4-4 AFC)
8. Las Vegas Raiders (6-6, 4-4 AFC)
9. Baltimore Ravens (6-6, 4-6 AFC)
10. Denver Broncos (5-7, win over NE)
11. New England Patriots (5-7, loss to DEN)
12. Los Angeles Chargers (4-8, 4-5 AFC)
13. Houston Texans (4-8, 3-6 AFC)
14. Cincinnati Bengals (3-8-1)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10/1-11)
16. New York Jets (1-11)

Projected Playoff Standings

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-2)
3. Buffalo Bills (9-3, 6-2 AFC)
4. Tennessee Titans (8-4, H2H tie with IND, 3-1 AFCS)
5. Cleveland Browns (9-3, 6-3 AFC)
6. Indianapolis Colts (8-4, H2H tie with TEN, 2-2 AFCS)
7. Miami Dolphins (7-5, 4-4 AFC)
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8. Las Vegas Raiders (6-6, 4-4 AFC)
9. Baltimore Ravens (6-6, 4-6 AFC)

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