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AFC Playoff Picture: Bills’ rooting interest clear for Monday night

Buffalo won, but still needed help to stay in position

With the postponement of Saturday’s game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns, the playoff picture is not complete in the AFC for Week 14. It’s not until Monday night that we will receive the final piece of the puzzle heading into the Christmas holiday.

So which team are we rooting for and why? Frankly, it shouldn’t matter. If the Bills win out, they will be ahead of both the Browns and the Raiders in seeding. Buffalo would own all the tiebreakers. Cleveland can tie Buffalo in terms of AFC record, but the Bills would win in record vs common opponents largely because of their victory over the Chiefs.

In terms of the Wild Card race, the Bills want the Raiders to beat the Browns so both of those teams are 7-7 and a game behind Buffalo. That keeps the Bills in Wild Card position while they are still competing for the division lead. The Browns have remaining games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, which would knock out at least one team from the Wild Card race.

If the Browns win, they move into the top spot in the AFC North and drop the Bengals into the Wild Card race. The Bengals have a better AFC record than the Bills, which would drop Buffalo out of their playoff position right now.

It wouldn’t be dire. Of the potential 8-6 and 7-6-1 teams, so many of them play each other over the final three weeks, it’s bound to eliminate certain teams. Here are the remaining schedules:

Buffalo: at New England Patriots, vs. Atlanta Falcons, vs New York Jets
Cleveland: at Green Bay Packers, at Pittsburgh, vs Bengals
Cincinnati: Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, at Cleveland
Baltimore: at Cincinnati, Los Angeles Rams, Steelers
Pittsburgh: at Kansas City, Cleveland, at Baltimore
Indianapolis: at Arizona Cardinals, Las Vegas Raiders, at Jacksonville Jaguars
Los Angeles: at Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, at Las Vegas

Here is what each outcome would look like in terms of playoff seeding as of late Monday night. Please note the division leaders are listed first. The Jets, Texans, and Jaguars have been eliminated from the playoff picture.

AFC Standings if the Browns win

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
  2. New England Patriots (9-5, win over TEN)
  3. Tennessee Titans (9-5, loss to NE)
  4. Cleveland Browns (8-6, 2-1 vs CIN/BAL)
  5. Indianapolis Colts (8-6, 7-3 AFC)
  6. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6, 1-1 vs CLE/BAL, win over BAL, 6-3 AFC)
  7. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6, 5-4 AFC)
  8. Buffalo Bills (8-6, 5-5 AFC, 3-2 in common games with BAL)
  9. Baltimore Ravens (8-6, 1-3 AFCN, 5-5 AFC, 2-2 in common games with BUF)
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1)
  11. Miami Dolphins (7-7, 5-5 AFC)
  12. Denver Broncos (7-7, 3-6 AFC)
  13. Las Vegas Raiders (6-8)

AFC Standings if the Raiders win

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
  2. New England Patriots (9-5, win over TEN)
  3. Tennessee Titans (9-5, loss to NE)
  4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6, win over BAL)
  5. Indianapolis Colts (8-6, 7-3 AFC)
  6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6, 5-4 AFC)
  7. Buffalo Bills (8-6, 5-5 AFC, 3-2 in common games with BAL)
  8. Baltimore Ravens (8-6, 5-5, 2-2 in common games with BUF)
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1)
  10. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7, win over DEN, 5-4 AFC)
  11. Miami Dolphins (7-7, 5-5 AFC)
  12. Cleveland Browns (7-7, 4-6 AFC, win over DEN)
  13. Denver Broncos (7-7, loss to LV, 3-6 AFC, loss to CLE)

So all of that being said, root for the Raiders on Monday night but, in the end, it isn’t likely to make a difference.