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AFC Playoff Picture: Buffalo Bills rooting interests for Week 11

The Buffalo Bills can end the week where they started it — in second place in the AFC — or they can fall all the way out of playoff position. That’s the razor’s edge on which they sit in the AFC.

Yes, the Bills can just control themselves and win, but we have other outcomes we can root for when Buffalo isn’t on the field.

The Bills got some help last weekend from the Miami Dolphins against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football and a similar outcome tonight would be awesome. There are some other big games on the docket, as well.

Here are the rooting interests in order of importance. I’ve dropped in the DraftKings SportsBook odds, as well, to to give you some sense of how likely a particular outcome is to coming to reality.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.

Before we get to the rooting interests, here are the current AFC Playoff standings. Note: Rankings are listed in playoff order, so division leaders are listed 1-4 followed by the Wild Card teams.

AFC East

  1. Buffalo Bills (6-3)
  2. New England Patriots (6-4)
  3. Miami Dolphins (3-7)
  4. New York Jets (2-7)

AFC Playoffs

  1. Tennessee Titans (8-2)
  2. Buffalo Bills (6-3, 5-3 AFC)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (6-3, 4-3 AFC)
  4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1)
  6. New England Patriots (6-4)
  7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4, win over LVR, SOV 22 wins)
  8. Las Vegas Raiders (5-4, loss to LAC, 4-2 AFC)
  9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4, 3-2 AFC, SOV 17 wins)
  10. Indianapolis Colts (5-5, 4-3 AFC)
  11. Cleveland Browns (5-5, 3-4 AFC, win over DEN)
  12. Denver Broncos (5-5, 2-4 AFC, loss to CLE)
  13. Miami Dolphins (3-7)
  14. New York Jets (2-7, SOV 13 wins)
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7, SOV 9 wins)
  16. Houston Texans (1-8)

Buffalo Bills (6-3) over Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
Sunday, November 21st, 1:00 PM Eastern
Line: Bills by 7

This is a bigger game for Buffalo than folks think. The Colts could definitely be in the mix at the end after the run they’ve had. Plus, with the Patriots a half-game back, it’s important to keep pace.

Atlanta Falcons over New England Patriots (6-4)
Thursday Night Football
Line: Patriots by 7

A Bills loss and a Patriots win moves New England to the top of the AFC East. You read that right. Coupled with some other bad outcome down the line, the Bills could be completely out of playoff position by Monday morning.

Houston Texans (1-8) over Tennessee Titans (8-2)
Sunday, November 21st, 1:00 PM Eastern
Line: Titans by 10

If ever we needed a divisional underdog to win, this is it. Houston is a mess and it’s unlikely they pull this off, but the Titans need to lose if Buffalo wants to move up.

Chicago Bears over Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
Sunday, November 21st, 1:00 PM Eastern
Line: Ravens by 5

Baltimore starts the week even with Buffalo but behind the Bills on AFC record. A few more losses for the Ravens helps in the race for the top seed (or any seed 1-4).

Dallas Cowboys over Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
Sunday, November 21st, 4: 25 PM Eastern
Line: Chiefs by 2.5

Keeping some room between Buffalo and Kansas City can’t hurt when the opponent is an NFC team. The Chiefs have a tough schedule down the stretch, but every loss helps the Bills.

Los Angeles Chargers (5-4) over Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1)
Sunday Night Football
Line: Chargers by 5.5

The Steelers have a better record than the Chargers and they have a tiebreaker over Buffalo. This is a no-brainer. All things being close to equal, root for the Steelers to lose. That’s especially true in a tough division like the AFC West.

Detroit Lions over Cleveland Browns (5-5)
Sunday, November 21st, 1:00 PM Eastern
Line: Cleveland by 11

Cleveland is still very much alive in the AFC playoff race. Buffalo got help from the Lions against Pittsburgh last week. Another NFC team beating an AFC team helps more often than not.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) over Las Vegas Raiders (5-4)
Sunday, November 21st, 4:05 PM Eastern
Line: Bengals by 1

The good news is that the Bills get one of these teams to five losses. We’re choosing the Bengals for this because they have a worse AFC record than the Raiders, but both teams have a tough road to the playoffs in their divisions.

New Orleans Saints over Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, November 21st, 1:00 PM Eastern
Line: Eagles by 2

The Bills play the Saints but don’t play the Eagles. This outcome helps Strength of Schedule and hopefully Strength of Victory tiebreakers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers over New York Giants
Monday Night Football
Line: Bucs by 11

The Bills are going to face the Buccaneers later, so this helps the Strength of Schedule and hopefully Strength of Victory.

San Francisco 49ers over Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7)
Sunday, November 21st, 1:00 PM Eastern
Line: 49ers by 6.5

First, screw the Jaguars. Mathematically, we want the Jaguars to win for Strength of Schedule. But realistically, screw the Jaguars.

New York Jets (2-7) over Miami Dolphins (3-7)
Sunday, November 21st, 1:00 PM Eastern
Line: Dolphins by 3.5

Either way, it’s probably the same, which is why it’s so low on the list. Buffalo beat Miami twice. They should beat the Jets twice. If that happens, this outcome doesn’t matter to any tiebreakers. Right now, I guess we are rooting for the Jets to get their third win at the expense of the three-win Dolphins.

Washington Football Team over Carolina Panthers
Sunday, November 21st, 1:00 PM
Line: Panthers by 3

If Buffalo beats the Panthers, this game doesn’t really matter for the Bills. Buffalo has already beaten the Washington Football Team. Washington has games against the AFC West, which could impact Buffalo via Strength of Victory and Strength of Schedule, while the Panthers play the AFC East.

Green Bay Packers over Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, November 21st, 1:00 PM Eastern
Line: Packers by 1.5

The Packers played the Chiefs, while the Vikings played the Chargers. Both NFC teams won. With Buffalo’s win over the Chiefs being the main tiebreaker, we are rooting for the team that beat Kansas City in this scenario to pump up KC’s Strength of Schedule vs the Chargers. But it’s really unlikely to matter.

Arizona Cardinals over Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, November 21st, 4:25 PM Eastern
Line: Cardinals by 2

Arizona played the Browns and the AFC South while the Seahawks played the Steelers. Because Buffalo already lost to Pittsburgh, the Strength of... tiebreaker won’t matter. So root for the team that beat Cleveland to lose.

Bye: Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams


Buffalo can’t move into first place this week regardless of outcomes, but they can be positioned to do it Thanksgiving weekend. Here is what the order would look like if everything went Buffalo’s way.

PROJECTED AFC East

  1. Buffalo Bills (7-3)
  2. New England Patriots (6-5)
  3. New York Jets (3-7)
  4. Miami Dolphins (3-8)

PROJECTED AFC Playoffs

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

The Titans and Patriots play next weekend, so some helpful outcomes with them would be appreciated this week. Plus the Bengals play the Steelers, Chargers play the Broncos, and Ravens play the Browns. Lots of intrigue.