The Buffalo Bills are on bye this weekend and guaranteed to enter Week 8 in first place in the AFC. It’s a good day for Bills fans to kick back and relax a bit.
That said, nearly every game in a season carries importance for the NFL playoff picture, and with the Bills’ best postseason interests in mind, there are a few specific game outcomes today that fans should be rooting for.
AFC playoff picture, Week 9
|3||Kansas City Chiefs||5-2||2-0||2-2||+51||W1|
|5||New York Jets||5-3||1-1||4-3||+17||L1|
|7||Los Angeles Chargers||4-3||2-1||4-2||-25||L1|
|8||New England Patriots||4-4||1-1||3-2||+14||W1|
|13||Las Vegas Raiders||2-5||1-2||2-3||-11||L1|
Browns (2-4) at Ravens (3-3) — 1:00 PM ET, CBS
Don’t root for a Browns win. That said, if they were to somehow knock off Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, it wouldn’t be the end of the world from Buffalo’s perspective. The Bills already hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Baltimore should they win the AFC North, so a Ravens win also wouldn’t hurt. But if these two teams were 3-4 at the end of the day, it’d mean better position for the Bills in the standings.
Root for a Ravens loss.
Falcons (3-3) at Bengals (3-3) — 1:00 PM ET, FOX
The biggest threat to the Ravens winning the AFC North is Cincinnati. While the Bills will have a chance to own a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bengals later this season, when the two teams square off in Cincinnati on Monday Night Football in Week 17, it’s best not to rely on that just yet, particularly since they’re playing an NFC team this week.
Root for a Falcons win.
Lions (1-4) at Cowboys (4-2) — 1:00 PM ET, CBS
You should really only barely care about this game. Strength of victory is the fourth playoff tiebreaker (behind head-to-head, conference record, and common games), and since the Bills play the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, we just want the Lions to end up with as many wins as possible.
Root for a Lions win.
Giants (5-1) at Jaguars (2-4) — 1:00 PM ET, FOX
We will nearly always want an NFC team to beat an AFC team. That’s true here, as well, and not just because I want Brian Daboll and the rest of his band of former Bills to enact a revenge fantasy over the Jaguars for that thing that happened in Jacksonville last November.
Root for a Giants win.
Colts (3-2-1) at Titans (3-2) — 1:00 PM ET, CBS
The Titans have already beaten the Colts once this season—in Indianapolis three weeks ago—so we’ll want that evened out. Yes, the Bills are okay if the Titans win the AFC South thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker, but that doesn’t mean we want it to be easy for them. Buffalo doesn’t get a shot at Indy, true, but it’s Indy; they’ll falter somewhere along the way. Tennessee might not.
Root for a Colts win.
Packers (3-3) at Commanders (2-4) — 1:00 PM ET, FOX
Buffalo’s next opponent is Green Bay. The Packers have looked pretty bad in their current two-game losing streak. That said, exclusively for strength of victory tiebreaker purposes, we do care about Green Bay, and we don’t care about Washington at all.
Root for a Packers win.
Jets (4-2) at Broncos (2-4) — 4:05 PM ET, CBS
This far into the season, the idea that the Jets might end the day with as many wins as the Bills is not particularly ideal. Denver isn’t likely to play into Buffalo’s playoff path significantly—unless we’re praying for a desperation win by them over Kansas City at some point—so this is an easy call. Broncos Country, let it Rypien.
Root for a Broncos win.
Texans (1-3-1) at Raiders (1-4) — 4:05 PM ET, CBS
You clearly don’t need to sweat over this one too much, since this matchup pits the two worst teams in the AFC, record-wise, against each other. Houston isn’t going to be a factor in the long run, but Las Vegas might be, and it’s not a bad thing at all if a team that plays Kansas City again has some momentum.
Root for a Raiders win.
NFC trumps AFC again—though, following the Raiders logic above, it’s not the worst outcome for the Chargers to remain relevant and nipping at the heels of the Chiefs. Still...
Root for a Seahawks win.
Chiefs (4-2) at 49ers (3-3) — 4:25 PM ET, FOX
Another NFC-over-AFC ideal. This year, it won’t hurt for tiebreaker purposes if the Chiefs win the AFC West, but we all know that Kansas City is the biggest threat in the conference to Buffalo’s Super Bowl aspirations, so knocking them down a peg would be nothing but good news in the race for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Root for a 49ers win.
This one’s easy and obvious—we want the division rival that beat the Bills once already to lose to the other AFC team that the Bills defeated two weeks ago—but let’s also root for a little revenge for Brian Flores, shall we?
Root for a Steelers win.
Bears (2-4) at Patriots (3-3) — Monday, 8:15 PM ET, ESPN
The Bears aren’t going to beat the Patriots in New England on Monday Night Football. They aren’t good, and the Patriots might be pretty good. But we can cross our fingers and hope, right?
Root for a Bears win.
Other games that exist but that we don’t care about
- Buccaneers (3-3) at Panthers (1-5)