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After Patriots win, Bills would fall sharply in AFC with loss to Colts

The New England Patriots won their Thursday night contest in convincing fashion over the Atlanta Falcons. With the win, New England moved to seven wins, which is one more than Buffalo. The Bills’ winning percentage keeps them in first place today, but a loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday would knock Buffalo from the top spot in the division for the first time since September.

With a loss, the best position the Bills could end up in is fifth place in the AFC, but that can’t happen with the schedule this week. Instead, Buffalo would be sixth or seventh, and they’re much, much more likely to be seventh than sixth.

A host of other teams have the potential to be 6-4 or better in the Wild Card race including the division-leading Baltimore Ravens (6-3) and Kansas City Chiefs (6-4). The Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1) currently sit in the fifth position. The Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Cincinnati Bengals are all 5-4. With the Bengals and Raiders playing this weekend, as well as the Steelers and Chargers, it’s a double-edged sword for Buffalo since two are virtually guaranteed a win and two are virtually guaranteed a loss.

Here is the AFC playoff picture heading into the week:

AFC East

  1. Buffalo Bills (6-3)
  2. New England Patriots (6-4, now 7-4)
  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, now 7-4)
  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)

Worst-case scenario with a loss*

In this bad scenario, the Bills lose to the Colts, knocking them out of the top spot in the AFC East and into the Wild Card race. New England already won.

  • New England Patriots (7-3) AFC East
  • Buffalo Bills (6-4, 5-4 AFC)

The Baltimore Ravens win, moving them to 7-3 and keeping them atop the AFC North. The Kansas City Chiefs win, keeping them on top of the AFC West.

  • Baltimore Ravens (7-3) AFC North
  • Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) AFC West

With that, Buffalo is now in the mix at the Wild Card. With outcomes that are virtually guaranteed to knock them further down; all of the Chargers, Steelers, Bengals, and Raiders would be ahead of Buffalo if they win thanks to a superior win percentage (Pittsburgh) or AFC record (Los Angeles, Cincinnati, or Las Vegas)

  • 5th place: Winner of Chargers/Steelers (6-4 or 6-3-1)
  • 6th place: Winner of Bengals/Raiders (6-4)

That would leave the Bills in seventh place in the conference, just a half-game ahead of the Colts and potentially Cleveland. The 5-5 Browns play the Detroit Lions this week, so they will likely be 6-5. The losers of the Chargers/Steelers and Bengals/Raiders would join the Denver Broncos hovering a game or so back at or around .500.

* - It should be noted we took ties off the table for this. They are pretty rare and muck up the waters a lot.


Best case scenario with a loss*

In this better-but-still bas scenario, the Bills lose to the Colts, knocking them out of the top spot in the AFC East and into the Wild Card race. New England already won.

  • New England Patriots (7-3) AFC East
  • Buffalo Bills (6-4, 5-4 AFC)

The Chiefs lose to the Cowboys, knocking them into the Wild Card race. The Chargers win their game to move into first place in the AFC West at 6-4.

  • Los Angeles Chargers (6-4) AFC West
  • Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)

The winner of the Bengals/Raiders game is 6-4 while the loser is 5-5. Whichever team wins would be ahead of Buffalo based on AFC record.

  • 5th place: Winner of Bengals/Raiders (6-4)

This would leave the Bills in sixth place in the conference, albeit with a lot of competition at 5-4-1, 6-5, and 5-5.

* - It should be noted we took ties off the table for this. They are pretty rare and muck up the waters a lot.


I’m sure there are a bunch more scenarios I didn’t cover in here.

In short, a loss this week would have a major impact on Buffalo’s positioning in the AFC race. They would certainly fall from second to sixth or seventh place in the conference and have four AFC losses. That last bit would be incredibly important come seeding time if Buffalo was able to right the ship in December and win the division.

The game this weekend isn’t a must-win game, but it’s a very important one.