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AFC Playoff Picture: Buffalo Bills rooting interests for Week 13

Buffalo’s on a bye week, so here are our rooting interests

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar / USA TODAY NETWORK
Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills have blown chance after chance to get into the AFC Playoff Picture during the 2023 season. Well, the good news is that this week they can’t let us down! The Bills are on their bye, so it’s all up to someone else!

Only one outcome this weekend can impact Buffalo’s current playoff position, and it’s in the downward direction. No wins or losses can move the Bills up at all until at least next Thursday night.

Here are the standings prior to Week 13:

AFC Standings

1. Baltimore Ravens (9-3)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-3, season sweep over MIA+JAX)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3, SOV tiebreaker win over MIA)
3. Miami Dolphins (8-3, SOV tiebreaker loss JAX)
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4, 3-1 AFCN)
6. Cleveland Browns (7-4, 3-2 AFCN)
7. Indianapolis Colts* (6-5, win over HOU, 4-3 AFC)
8. Houston Texans* (6-5, loss to IND, 3-3 AFC)
9. Denver Broncos* (6-5, 3-4 AFC)
10. Buffalo Bills (6-6)
11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)
12. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)
13. Los Angeles Chargers (4-7, 2-4 AFC)
14. Tennessee Titans (4-7, 2-5 AFC)
15. New York Jets (4-7, 2-6 AFC)
16. New England Patriots (2-9)

* In the three-way tie for the seventh spot, the Colts and Texans go to a division tiebreaker first. Indianapolis has a head-to-head win over Houston. Then the Colts and Broncos start over, going to record in AFC games. The Broncos and Texans then start over, when Houston tops Denver in record in AFC games.

Here are your rooting interests in terms of most important to least important and I’ve marked home teams:

Washington Commanders (H) over Miami Dolphins
Sunday, December 3, 1 p.m. EST

The Dolphins haven’t beaten a team with a winning record in two years except the Bills once in 2023 and 2022. Why do I bring that up when discussing the very downtrodden Commanders? The division is very much in play despite Miami’s 2.5-game lead. If Miami can stumble against the Commanders, the Dolphins have games against the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills to end the season and could definitely finish behind Buffalo.

Tennessee Titans (H) over Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, December 3, 1 p.m. EST

The Colts are sitting in an unlikely playoff spot right now. They defeated the Titans earlier this season, but they just lost running back Jonathan Taylor to an injury. It would certainly be nice for a team that’s out of it to beat a team that’s in it.

Los Angeles Rams (H) over Cleveland Browns
Sunday, December 3, 4:25 pm EST

Another team in a playoff spot are the Cleveland Browns and they’re down to their fourth quarterback of the season. They have an excellent defense that’s carried them far, but Sean McVay and his team are just a half-game out of a playoff spot of their own in the NFC. We need some Browns losses and this is a perfect opportunity where the victor won’t hurt the Bills’ chances since they’re in the NFC.

Arizona Cardinals over Pittsburgh Steelers (H)
Sunday, December December 3, 1 p.m. EST

Similar to the Browns/Rams, it would be nice if an AFC team in playoff position lost to an NFC team this weekend. The Cards aren’t close to playoff position, but they were missing Kyler Murray and James Conner early in the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars (H) over Cincinnati Bengals
Monday Night Football

This comes down to the Jaguars likely winning the AFC South, so we want to keep the Bengals from climbing back into the Wild Card race. Cincinnati is the only team that can pass the Bills in the standings this weekend. A Bengals win moves the Bills down to 11th in the conference. It’s not super-important because the AFC North still has to kick the crap out of each other.

Houston Texans (H) over Denver Broncos
Sunday, December 3, 1 p.m. EST

The NY Times Playoff Machine has this game as a tossup for Buffalo, largely based on Buffalo’s poor AFC record in a three-way tiebreaker scenario. Still, I want to eliminate the team that has a head-to-head win over Buffalo if I can.

New York Jets (H) over Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, December 3, 1 p.m. EST

Normally we would root for the NFC team over the AFC team, but if Buffalo is in playoff position, the Jets won’t be able to pass them. In this case, we are boosting Buffalo’s Strength of Victory tiebreaker.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (H) over Carolina Panthers
Sunday, December 3, 1 p.m. EST

The Bills beat the Bucs, so this is purely for Strength of Victory.

Green Bay Packers over Kansas City Chiefs (H)
Sunday Night Football

This won’t really impact the Bills making the playoffs, as the Chiefs are going to win their division again. But I ain’t rooting for the Chiefs, even if it improves Buffalo’s Strength of Schedule and hopefully their Strength of Victory tiebreaker.

Dallas Cowboys (H) over Seattle Seahawks
Thursday Night Football

This outcome will help Buffalo’s Strength of Schedule and hopefully their Strength of Victory tiebreaker.

New England Patriots (H) over Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, December 3, 1 p.m. EST

Buffalo is going to need wins over both these teams down the stretch, so either team winning won’t help the Overall Record or Strength of Victory tiebreaker. This is for Strength of Schedule because Buffalo plays New England twice but LA only once.

Philadelphia Eagles (H) over San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, December 3, 4:25 p.m. EST

Philly played Buffalo, so this helps the Bills’ Strength of Schedule.

Detroit Lions vs New Orleans Saints (H)
Sunday, December 3, 1 p.m. EST

This one won’t directly impact Buffalo, so unless you know who is in the tiebreaker with the Bills, we can’t give you an interest.