The Buffalo Bills have already earned their Week 13 win, in the form of their 24-10 Thursday Night Football victory over the New England Patriots, so Sunday’s viewing is all about rooting for the optimization of that win in the AFC playoff picture.
This morning, before Sunday’s games kick off, the Bills are in sole possession of first place in the AFC East, and a half-game behind Kansas City for the top spot in the conference. Here’s what Bills Mafia should be rooting for to happen today (and tomorrow night) so that the Bills can keep their division lead, as well as climb even higher in the conference.
AFC playoff picture, Week 13
|1||Kansas City Chiefs||9-2||3-0||5-2||+83||W5|
|7||New York Jets||7-4||2-2||5-4||+34||W1|
|8||Los Angeles Chargers||6-5||2-2||4-3||-30||W1|
|9||New England Patriots||6-6||2-2||5-3||+23||L2|
|12||Las Vegas Raiders||4-7||2-2||3-5||-11||W2|
AFC vs. NFC matchups are easy to root for, even when an AFC win means a strength of schedule (SOS) and a strength of victory (SOV) boost for Buffalo. We want to root for the elimination of as many AFC playoff contenders as quickly as possible, and Pittsburgh is still mathematically alive.
Root for a Falcons win.
The Bills are in a dogfight in the AFC East, and in the event that they do not win the division, they could use as much help as possible to ensure they still make the playoffs. Baltimore is quickly losing ground to Cincinnati in the AFC North, and if those teams swap positions, we want Buffalo to stay ahead of Baltimore, even with a head-to-head tiebreaker in hand.
Root for a Broncos win.
A Packers win here would mean a small, but mostly insignificant, SOV boost for the Bills, since they have already beaten the Packers. With an upcoming game against Chicago for Buffalo, a Green Bay win here would also continue to sap life out of a plucky team with a dangerous offense.
Root for a Packers win.
AFC vs. NFC again, which is always easy when the AFC team is still alive in the playoff chase. Add in the fact that the Bills already have a win over the NFC team in this matchup, and the decision becomes even easier.
Root for a Lions win.
Cleveland is still alive, and their quarterback is gross. Houston stinks, but if ever there were a week for them to record a memorable blowout victory in an otherwise-lost season, this is it.
Root for a Texans win.
Division rival against an NFC team? Always an easy call. Buffalo plays the Jets next week, and if Minnesota can put Mike White and company in their place a little bit before then, it’d really be terrific.
Root for a Vikings win.
This is another mostly meaningless NFC matchup, but rooting interests are rooting interests, and “it doesn’t matter” is not an acceptable answer. The Giants have beaten every AFC team they’ve faced this season (4-0), while the Commanders are 3-1 — their loss coming to the Titans. A Washington loss, then, weakens SOV for Tennessee.
Root for a Giants win.
Tennessee Titans (7-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) — 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX
I’ll re-iterate my weekly mention of how much I dislike Tennessee. Add in the fact that they’re a division-leader, a near-certainty to make the playoff field, and that they’re playing an NFC team, and this is yet another very easy call.
Root for an Eagles win.
More SOV parsing! This round is a bit trickier, as these two teams have only played half of their scheduled games against AFC opponents. If the Rams were to win this game, it would strengthen Buffalo’s SOV, while simultaneously weakening the future SOV for Kansas City, who plays Seattle in Week 16 and will likely win.
Root for a Rams win.
This is the best matchup of the week, and an in-depth explanation for why Bills fans should want the 49ers to crush the Dolphins really isn’t necessary.
Root for a 49ers win.
In order for the Bills to have a shot at re-claiming the No. 1 seed in the AFC, they’re going to need the Chiefs to lose at least once in their final six games. This is Kansas City’s best chance for a loss, as four of their six remaining games are against teams with losing records (with another against Seattle in Arrowhead).
Root for a Bengals win.
Both of these teams are still alive in the AFC playoff race. Neither factor very heavily into Buffalo’s situation. A Raiders win would bring the two teams closer to each other in the standings, but still with plenty of distance between both teams and the Bills.
Root for a Raiders win.
AFC vs. NFC. Bad versus good. There’s no harm in rooting against Indy, even when it’s Dallas, if it brings Indy that much closer to playoff elimination. Grin and bear it, Bills Mafia.
Root for a Cowboys win.
The week ends with another all-NFC battle of little import. A Tampa Bay loss would weaken SOV for both Kansas City and Baltimore, while a New Orleans loss would only weaken SOV for Baltimore. Easy pick, with the added bonus of not needing to be excited by Tom Brady doing good things.
Root for a Saints win.