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AFC Playoff Picture: Why I’m rooting for the Titans on Sunday

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Earlier this week we put out our weekly rooting interests for Buffalo Bills fans. Because we have to cover so many games in that article, I didn’t expand on my thoughts too much for choosing the Tennessee Titans over the New England Patriots. Enough folks have followed up that I think it bears repeating.

We are rooting for the Titans over the Patriots this weekend. Or at least I am.

The math works out way better this way. The goal of the regular season is to win your division and secure home playoff games, and hopefully you can get the one seed and a bye. The first step there is the division crown.

With a Titans win, the Bills have a 63 percent chance of winning their division according to the NY Times. With a Patriots win, the Bills are 50-50 to win the AFC East.

A Patriots loss this week gives the Bills more wiggle room for a random loss down the stretch.

In the division, a split with the Patriots down the stretch should be enough for Buffalo to win the AFC East. Buffalo would hold the AFC East record tiebreaker thanks to New England’s early loss to the Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo losing in Week 18 to the Jets seems incredibly unlikely. So you can at least make a case for the Patriots beating the Titans as the preferred outcome, because then the Bills would still control their own destiny.

If I was confident in a Bills sweep of the Patriots, I would go in the opposite direction. I’d root for the Patriots. A New England win this weekend gives the Bills an eight percent chance of the top seed in the conference while a loss gives Buffalo just a five percent chance. Not really a huge shift, but the numbers would make it much more possible for the Bills to pass the Titans in the win column.

Either way, a sweep of New England by Buffalo would likely guarantee the division and also give the Bills a legitimate shot at the one seed. With Tennessee dealing with injuries up and down their roster, it has to catch up to them at some point. Even if it’s in the postseason, and Buffalo could still host the AFC Championship Game as the two seed.

Also, as much as I really dislike the Titans, I dislike the Patriots even more.