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AFC Playoff Picture: Buffalo Bills’ still alive for first-round bye

Not likely, as you’ll see

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

The Buffalo Bills could theoretically still win the top seed in the AFC and the coveted first-round bye in the playoffs. That doesn’t seem very likely at this point.

Buffalo would of course need to win their final two games of the season to get to 11-6 to have any shot.

The first-place Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) would need to lose their final two games against the Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) and Denver Broncos (7-8), which doesn’t seem ludicrous until you see the Chiefs haven’t lost in two months. The Broncos could be playing for their coach’s job and the Bengals are still trying to clinch the AFC North, so it’s not crazy, okay?

In second place now, the Tennessee Titans (10-5) would also need to lose their last two games. There is no scenario in which the Bills win a three-way tiebreaker with the Titans and the early season loss in Tennessee is the two-way tiebreaker. They face the red-hot Miami Dolphins (8-7) and the suddenly-warm Houston Texans (4-11) over their last two games. Houston has won two straight and beat the Titans earlier this year. It’s not likely, but it’s possible, RIGHT!?

Then the Indianapolis Colts (9-6) could sneak into the top spot conversation by winning their final two games to also be 11-6. Because of Buffalo’s previous loss to the Colts and some subsequent tiebreakers, the Bills can’t top an 11-6 Colts team, so we would need one loss from them to either the Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) or the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13). The Raiders are fighting for a playoff spot and the Jaguars only lost by six to the Colts earlier this year, but both teams can interview new head coaches right now and players are disincentivized from busting their butt for a lame duck coach.

If those outcomes come to fruition, the Bengals who just beat the Chiefs would have to lose in Week 18 to the Cleveland Browns. That would finish the Bengals at 10-7 and a game behind the Bills.

All of those outcomes don’t feel impossible on their own, but taken as a parlay, it seems pretty darn unlikely. FiveThirtyEight places the odds at just 0.2 percent.