Buffalo Bills fans have to wait until tomorrow night for their team’s Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty on the line during Sunday’s slate of games. The Bills, after all, are vying for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs — and while they control their own destiny to get there, a little extra help never hurts.
Certainly, not every matchup bears watching this weekend from a Bills-in-the-playoffs standpoint. The five games listed below, however, should be on your radar. (And yes, we’re including the Bills-Bengals game on the list, because it’s the most important game of the week in many respects.)
Kansas City, currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC, has been toying with the idea of losing to an inferior opponent of late. They haven’t — they’ve won three straight since falling on the road to Cincinnati on December 4 — but six-point wins over 4-11 Denver and 2-12-1 Houston had Bills fans dreaming. That dream continues in this one, and in this dream, Russell Wilson plays like his early-to-mid aughts vintage, and not like the has-been he’s played like all season. Come on, Russ — you have to have one last gem of a game up your sleeve.
Root for a Broncos win.
Maybe you’re not concerned about which team claims the AFC’s final wild card spot. It’s probably reasonable to fall into that camp. I, however, can’t bring myself to that point; I have seen the Bills try to defend Tyreek Hill in the postseason twice now, and it hasn’t gone well either time (he had a combined 20 receptions for 322 yards and a touchdown in those two games). I’m absolutely rooting for a playoff scenario in which Hill is not on Buffalo’s radar.
Root for a Patriots win.
This game is also part of the “no Tyreek Hill” plan mentioned above. The Jets have already beaten Miami once this season, and play them again in Week 18. With these two outcomes, the Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets would all be 8-8 going into the final week of the season, and Miami would be bringing up the rear of that group and in need of help to get in.
Root for a Jets win.
While it’s true that another 8-8 team competing with Miami wouldn’t be the end of the world, the more ideal outcome here is a Baltimore victory. In the event of a Bills loss in Cincinnati, it’s better for Buffalo if the Ravens still have a shot at winning the AFC North — because in that scenario, the Bills would hold a tiebreaker over Baltimore, but not Cincinnati. Yes, we’re obviously rooting for the Bills to win out, but we should also be rooting for alternate methods for ensuring the highest possible playoff seed for the Bills, as well.
Root for a Ravens win.
Root for a Bills win.
AFC playoff picture, Week 18
|1||z — Kansas City Chiefs||13-3||5-0||8-3||+109||W4|
|2||z — Buffalo Bills||12-3||3-2||8-2||+157||W6|
|3||z — Cincinnati Bengals||11-4||2-3||7-3||+85||W7|
|5||x — Los Angeles Chargers||10-6||2-3||7-4||+10||W4|
|6||x — Baltimore Ravens||10-6||3-2||6-5||+46||L1|
|7||New England Patriots||8-8||3-2||6-5||+29||W1|