With three games left for most AFC teams, the Buffalo Bills are two games back of the first-place Kansas City Chiefs. (How did that happen?) You might think a run to a first-round playoff bye is gone, but it’s not as long as you check reality at the door. As it stands, Buffalo has a 0.6 percent chance of the top seed in the AFC.
Since folks have been asking me, I’ll lay it all out here. Here is how the Bills can still nab the one seed.
Bills win out
In order for the Bills to get to the top of the heap, they need to win their final three games and secure the AFC East crown. Buffalo’s final record is 11-6 in this scenario.
Kansas City Chiefs lose at least twice
Buffalo wins a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Chiefs, so if both teams are 11-6, the Bills are on top if no one else is also 11-6. They have games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Denver Broncos. If the Chiefs lose to the Steelers and Broncos but beat the Bengals, that’s the most ideal scenario.
Tennessee Titans lose at least twice
Tennessee beats the Bills in head-to-head and Conference record tiebreakers and they have wins over KC and BUF, so in a three-way race they win, too. The Titans need to be behind Buffalo in overall record. They play the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, and Houston Texans down the stretch making this the least likely outcome on the board.
Indianapolis Colts lose at least once
Los Angeles Chargers lose at least once
Los Angeles has a solid AFC record of 5-4, so if they run the table to 11-6, Buffalo can’t pass them on that tiebreaker.
Cincinnati Bengals lose at least once
Cincinnati also has a better AFC record than the Bills and so Buffalo would need at least one loss from the Bengals. They play the Baltimore Ravens, Chiefs, and Cleveland Browns over the final three weeks so that doesn’t seem like a stretch.
Baltimore Ravens lose at least once (or some crazy combos)
Baltimore at 11-6 would likely beat the Bills on Strength of Victory, especially since their final wins would be over Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Rams, and Pittsburgh. It wouldn’t be a slam dunk, though, as some crazy combinations exist where the Bills can pass the Ravens in Strength of Victory with the New York Jets, Dolphins, New England Patriots, Texans, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and Washington Football Team making a run while the teams the Ravens beat take a nosedive.