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All 14 Buffalo Bills’ playoff clinching scenarios for Week 17

The Bills can have a spot sewn up by the time Sunday Night Football kicks off.

Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images
Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

According to the New York Times, the Buffalo Bills have an 89% chance of making the postseason. A win over the New England Patriots would bump that to 98%. Pretty good. But not clinched.

If the Bills get some help in Week 17, they can be locked and loaded with a playoff spot heading into the season finale against the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo will very likely have something to play for in Week 18, too, but getting this first bit out of the way will have fans breathing a sigh of relief.

Before we get into the scenarios,. here are the current AFC Standings heading into Week 17:

AFC Standings

1. x-Baltimore Ravens (12-3)
2. x-Miami Dolphins (11-4)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars* (8-7, 3-1 vs HOU+JAX)
5. Cleveland Browns (10-5)
6. Buffalo Bills (9-6)
7. Indianapolis Colts*# (8-7, 1-2 vs JAX+HOU, win over HOU, win over PIT)
8. Houston Texans*# (8-7, 1-2 vs IND+JAX, loss to IND, win over PIT)
9. Pittsburgh Steelers# (8-7, two wins over CIN. loss to IND, loss to HOU)
10. Cincinnati Bengals# (8-7, two losses to PIT)
11. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8, win over DEN)
12. Denver Broncos (7-8, loss to LV)
13. e-New York Jets (6-9)
14. e-Tennessee Titans (5-10, win over LAC)
15. e-Los Angeles Chargers (5-10, loss to TEN)
16. e-New England Patriots (4-11)

x - Baltimore and Miami have clinched a playoff spot
* - The first tiebreaker is the AFC South. The Jaguars win the division tiebreaker thanks to head-to-head record vs Houston and Indianapolis. Indianapolis has the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Texans.

# - In the Wild Card race, the divisional tiebreakers apply first. Pittsburgh swept the Bengals and Indianapolis has a win over Houston, so the Steelers and Colts go to a tiebreaker first. Indy has a win over Pittsburgh, so they’re in the final playoff spot. The Texans and Steelers go to a tiebreaker, which Houston wins on head-to-head victory.
e - The Titans, Jets, Chargers, and Patriots have been eliminated from the postseason.


In order to clinch a spot, Buffalo has to win or tie the Patriots. They can’t back in this weekend. Here are the 14 scenarios directly from the NFL:

A Bills win plus any of these scenarios:

1) Steelers loss/tie AND Bengals loss/tie
2) Steelers loss/tie AND Jaguars loss/tie
3) Steelers loss/tie AND Texans loss/tie AND Colts loss/tie
4) Bengals loss/tie AND Jaguars loss/tie
5) Bengals loss/tie AND Texans loss/tie AND Colts loss/tie

A Bills tie plus any of these scenarios:

6) Steelers loss AND Bengals loss AND Jaguars loss
7) Steelers loss AND Bengals loss AND Texans loss/tie
8) Steelers loss AND Bengals loss AND Colts loss/tie
9) Steelers loss AND Jaguars loss AND Texans loss/tie
10) Steelers loss AND Jaguars loss AND Colts loss/tie
11) Steelers loss AND Texans loss AND Colts loss
12) Bengals loss AND Jaguars loss AND Texans loss/tie
13) Bengals loss AND Jaguars loss AND Colts loss/tie
14) Bengals loss AND Texans loss AND Colts loss


Here is the schedule for just these teams this week in chronological order:

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Sunday, December 31st, 1:00 pm Eastern

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Sunday, December 31st, 1:00 pm Eastern

Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, December 31st, 1:00 pm Eastern

Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, December 31st, 1:00 PM Eastern

Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, December 31st, 4:05 pm Eastern

Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, December 31st, 4:25 pm Eastern

The Bills can’t clinch a spot in the early window, but they could be all set by the time Sunday Night Football kicks off. We will have a full rooting interest post for you later this week.