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Playoff Picture: When can the Buffalo Bills clinch the AFC East?

Heading into Week 13, the Buffalo Bills’ magic number was four. They need a combination of Bills wins and Miami Dolphins losses to clinch the AFC East (plus one more loss from the New England Patriots). While the Bills won, lowering that number to three, they didn’t get the other outcomes they needed to close the gap faster.

The earliest the Bills can clinch the division is Saturday, December 19.

If the Bills win this Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dolphins lose their game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo would clinch the AFC East with their next win.

Those two wins would move the Bills to 11-3, meaning they would finish ahead of the currently 6-6 Patriots. The Dolphins’ loss would slide them to 8-5, and Buffalo owns every tiebreaker against Miami. With Miami’s best possible record being 11-5 and New England’s best being 10-6, the Bills would clinch the division with at least an 11-5 record.

They can clinch a playoff spot as early as next Monday night, but they’ll need some help. Read that scenario here.

Buffalo hasn’t won the AFC East since 1995. Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Marv Levy, Steve Tasker, and Ralph Wilson were all still here.