The Buffalo Bills are one win away from clinching a spot in the AFC playoffs. They can sew up a playoff berth with a win on Saturday night against the Miami Dolphins. If the 10-3 Bills defeat the Dolphins to go to 11 wins on the season, they will clinch their fifth playoff appearance in six years, and they can do it in front of a national television audience.
Miami’s hypothetical loss to the Bills would give the Dolphins six losses exiting Week 15 in this scenario, which is key to the Bills clinching. At 11 wins going through the Dolphins, the worst record Buffalo could then finish with after beating Miami is 11-6. The majority of the AFC already has six losses or more right now.
Hypothetical: Buffalo is 11-6 at worst with a win over Miami
The New York Jets and New England Patriots both sit at six losses this morning, joining the hypothetical six-loss Dolphins. Miami has one game remaining against both the Patriots and Jets, guaranteeing at least one of those three AFC East teams will finish with more than six losses. Buffalo would be guaranteed to finish in the top half of the conference.
Hypothetical conclusion: Miami, or New England, or New York guaranteed a seventh loss
The Dolphins play both the Patriots and Jets. If Miami wins out, the Jets and Patriots would both finish with at least seven losses.
Hypothetical conclusion: If the Dolphins win out, both the Jets and Patriots get their seventh loss.
An 11-6 Bills team would be 3-3 in the AFC East, and an 11-6 Jets team would be 3-3 in the division. (They are 1-1 against each other.) They would both be 7-5 in their games against common opponents, moving the tiebreaker to conference record. At 8-4, the Bills would trump the 7-5 record of the Jets in the AFC.
Hypothetical conclusion: If the Jets win out, Buffalo wins AFC record tiebreaker
If the Patriots win out, the Dolphins get their seventh loss — and since Buffalo is already ahead of the Jets, should they win out, Buffalo is a lock for the seventh seed at worst.
Hypothetical conclusion: If the Patriots win out, the Bills are ahead of the Dolphins
If the Los Angeles Chargers win out to move to 11-6, they would have an 8-4 AFC record, matching the Bills. The tiebreaker would move to record versus common opponent, where the Bills would win. Buffalo’s four wins over the Kansas City Chiefs, Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, and Tennessee Titans would be more than LA’s three wins.
Hypothetical conclusion: Chargers can’t beat Buffalo in common opponent tiebreaker
After a win on Saturday night, the Bills will finish ahead of the Chargers and at least one of the three other teams in the AFC East, ensuring at minimum a playoff spot.
AFC playoff picture, Week 15
|1||x — Buffalo Bills||11-3||3-2||8-2||+135||W5|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs||10-3||4-0||6-3||+86||W1|
|7||New England Patriots||7-6||2-2||5-3||+37||W1|
|8||Los Angeles Chargers||7-6||2-3||5-4||-31||W1|
|9||New York Jets||7-6||2-3||5-5||+21||L2|
|12||Las Vegas Raiders||5-8||3-2||4-5||-5||L1|
|15||e — Denver Broncos||3-10||0-4||2-8||-44||L5|
|16||e — Houston Texans||1-11-1||1-1-1||1-6-1||-103||L8|