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AFC Playoff Picture: How the Bills can move up to the 2 or 3 seed

Bills need some help this weekend if they want to move up

Currently the Buffalo Bills sit in the fourth spot in the AFC Playoff Picture. With a win on Sunday, they will solidify themselves as the AFC East division winner as well as at least the four seed and a home playoff game next weekend.

That’s not the whole story, though. With a win plus some help, they can move to the three seed or even the two seed in the AFC. Last year as the second seed, they hosted two playoff games in Orchard Park and won them both.

Here is the current AFC playoff picture along with scenarios below.

AFC Standings

  1. Tennessee Titans (11-5, win over KC)-yx
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5, loss to TEN)-yx
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, 8-3 AFC)-yx
  4. Buffalo Bills (10-6, 4-1 AFCE, 6-5 AFC)-x
  5. New England Patriots (10-6, 3-2 AFCE, 8-3 AFC)-x
  6. Indianapolis Colts (9-7, 7-4 AFC)
  7. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7, win over LVR, 6-5 AFC)
  8. Las Vegas Raiders (9-7, loss to LAC)
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1)
  10. Miami Dolphins (8-8, win over BAL)
  11. Baltimore Ravens (8-8, loss to MIA)
  12. Cleveland Browns (7-9, win over DEN)
  13. Denver Broncos (7-9, loss to CLE)
  14. Houston Texans (4-11, loss to NYJ)
  15. New York Jets (4-12, win over HOU)
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)

y- Clinched division
x- Clinched playoff spot
italics- Eliminated

The three teams above them, like Buffalo, all play divisional games in Week 18. Buffalo hosts the Jets in the late afternoon, the Chiefs play against the Broncos in Denver on Saturday afternoon, and the Bengals are at the Browns early afternoon on Sunday. The Bengals have already announced that several offensive starters will be out of the game as they rest or recover from COVID-19, but the Browns will also be without their starting quarterback. The Chiefs are still playing for the first-round bye and before everyone else, so they’ll likely give their best shot.

Can’t move up to 1

First, let’s start by explaining why the Bills can’t get to the one seed even though they’re only one game back of the Tennessee Titans. Josh Allen slipping on 4th & SHORT inside the Titans’ five earlier in the season sealed the deal on this tiebreaker. Buffalo can’t win in a head-to-head tie with Tennessee. In a three-team tie with the Chiefs and Titans, Tennessee would still come out on top because they have wins over both KC and Buffalo. In a three-team tie with the Titans and Bengals, Buffalo would lose out on AFC Conference record to Cincinnati. The same situation would happen in a four-way tie, and the Bills would be behind the Bengals.

To move up to 3

To move up to the three seed, Buffalo needs either the Cincinnati Bengals or Kansas City Chiefs to lose. Buffalo would pass the Bengals based on overall record or Buffalo would pass the Chiefs based on head-to-head record.

To move up to 2

In order to regain the 2 seed, the Bills would need both the Bengals and the Chiefs to lose on Sunday. Then they would pass both teams; Cincy on overall record and the Chiefs on the head-to-head tiebreaker.