Style points aside, the Buffalo Bills are winners of four straight games and, at 10-3 overall, hold a two-game lead in the AFC East and maintain their status as the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff picture entering a pivotal Week 15 matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
With only four games left on the schedule, the Bills can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Miami on Saturday night, and would all but wrap up their third straight AFC East title in the process (though they cannot officially clinch that this week).
As we do each week, let’s take a peek not only at the standings, but how data-based forecasts from Football Outsiders, The New York Times, and FiveThirtyEight peg the Bills’ playoff positioning odds over the final month of the regular season.
AFC East standings, Week 15
Before the New England Patriots won on Monday Night Football, the Bills had won four straight games, while their three division rivals had each lost two straight. The Patriots are back in the win column, but the Bills currently have a two-game lead on Miami (who lost to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football), and a three-game lead on both the Patriots and the New York Jets. With two straight division wins and a chance at a third this week, Buffalo has seen its odds of wining the division skyrocket since Thanksgiving Day.
- Football Outsiders gives the Bills a 90.7% chance to win the division. That’s up from 73.1% last week, and 55.3% two weeks ago.
- The New York Times gives the Bills a 93% chance to win the division. That’s up from 80% last week, and 61% two weeks ago.
- FiveThirtyEight gives the Bills a 93% chance to win the division. That’s up from 83% last week, and 63% two weeks ago.
Using The New York Times’ playoff predictor, and without considering any other game results other than Buffalo’s, here are some notes on how important their matchup with the Dolphins is to their division-title outlook.
- A win over the Dolphins gives the Bills a 99% chance to win the AFC East.
- A loss to the Dolphins lowers the Bills’ division title chances to 76%.
AFC East Standings
|3||New England Patriots||7-7||2-2||5-4||+31||L1||2-3|
|4||New York Jets||7-7||2-3||5-5||+18||L3||1-4|
AFC playoff picture, Week 15
The Bills have two primary competitors for the top seed in the conference — the Kansas City Chiefs and, to a lesser (but not insignificant) extent, the Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams were victorious in Week 14; Kansas City held off a Denver Broncos rally to improve to 10-3 themselves, while the Bengals notched their fifth straight win in defeating Cleveland.
Buffalo’s odds of securing home-field advantage in the playoffs creep up with each successive win, and it’s unlikely we’ll see any significant movement here until one of these three top-seed contenders drops a game.
- Football Outsiders gives the Bills a 51% chance of securing home-field advantage in the playoffs. Kansas City (34.6%) and Cincinnati (10.4%) trail the Bills in the metric, for now.
- The New York Times gives the Bills a 53% chance of securing home-field advantage in the playoffs. Kansas City (33%) and Cincinnati (9%) trail the Bills in the metric, for now.
- FiveThirtyEight gives the Bills a 48% chance of securing home-field advantage in the playoffs. Kansas City (42%) and Cincinnati (7%) trail the Bills in the metric, for now.
Once again using The New York Times’ predictor, and without considering game outcomes for the Chiefs and Bengals — just the Bills — here’s what the Dolphins game outcome will do for Buffalo’s shot at the top seed.
- A win over just the Dolphins slightly ups the Bills’ chances for the No. 1 seed to roughly 62%.
- A loss to the Dolphins significantly lowers the Bills’ chances for the No. 1 seed to roughly 28%.
While the Bills take on the Dolphins on Saturday night, the Chiefs and Bengals have slightly easier paths to victory this week. Kansas City will travel to take on the Houston Texans, owners of the league’s worst record and longest losing streak, while Cincinnati will travel south to take on Tom Brady and the reeling Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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|