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Buffalo Bills playoff scenarios: NFL Week 9 rooting interests

The Buffalo Bills are on the bye this week. Here's who you should root for to help their playoff chances.

Kevin C. Cox

Halfway through the 2014 season, the Buffalo Bills are 5-3, and in sixth place in the AFC. Yes - that means they're currently slotted in the coveted wild card playoff spot. While the Bills are resting up for their second-half playoff push, here's who you should root for this weekend to help their chances. (Games are ranked in terms of importance.)

The big games

Denver Broncos (6-1) over New England Patriots (6-2)
Sunday, November 2, 4:25 p.m. ET

With 11 teams fielding winning records in a jumbled AFC, the easiest way for the Bills to get firmly in the AFC playoff race is to pull even with the Patriots in the AFC East. Tom Brady doesn't often lose at home, but Peyton Manning and the Broncos' defense will present a formidable challenge. If the Patriots lose, they'll be just a half-game ahead of the Bills with their bye coming in Week 10, and Buffalo will have better control of their own destiny.

Miami Dolphins (4-3) over San Diego Chargers (5-3)
Sunday, November 2, 1:00 p.m. ET

Rooting for the Dolphins is against our very being, but this week it would really help. The Chargers own a tiebreaker over the Bills and are ahead of them in the standings because of that alone. The Bills will get another crack at the Dolphins to complete the season sweep and put them in the rearview mirror for good in a few weeks.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) over Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1)
Sunday, November 2, 1:00 p.m. ET

While the Bengals lead the AFC North, they are grouped tightly with Baltimore and Pittsburgh (both 5-3). All three can't lose this week, but it would be nice if two of them fell instead of just one. The AFC North is really going to have to knock off each other over the coming weeks.

New York Jets (1-7) over Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)
Sunday, November 2, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Chiefs are currently third in the AFC West, but their 3-2 conference record could be difficult to overcome in the tiebreakers if they add another AFC win this weekend. Buffalo can still just beat them straight-up a week from now, moving them down the list of importance.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6) over Cleveland Browns (4-3)
Sunday, November 2, 1:00 p.m. ET

A NFC team putting down one of the AFC teams with a winning record is great. Buffalo still gets a crack at the Mike Pettine-coached Browns later in the year, and they will have to climb past two of the three teams ahead of them in their division in order to compete with the Bills for a wild card spot.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) over Houston Texans (4-4)
Sunday, November 2, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Texans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills, so the more space between the two, the better. It's even better when it can come at the hands of an NFC team.

New York Giants (3-4) over Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
Monday, November 3, 8:30 p.m. ET

If the Colts run away with the AFC South, this game won't matter much. If they fall into a fight with the Texans, it could. It's usually better for NFC teams to beat the AFC teams in inter-conference games, and we'll stick with that line for now.

Baltimore Ravens (5-3) over Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
Sunday, November 2, 8:30 p.m. ET

Since once of these teams has to win (I guess they could tie), we'll root for the Ravens and their 2-3 conference record over the Steelers and their 4-2 record within the AFC. Neither team has a particularly difficult schedule down the stretch, but the hope is that the AFC North beats each other up in their divisional games to allow the Bills to keep pace.

Minnesota Vikings (3-5) over Washington Redskins (3-5)
Sunday, November 2, 1:00 p.m. ET
Oakland Raiders (0-7) over Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
Sunday, November 2, 4:25 p.m. ET

If the tiebreakers get down to strength of schedule and strength of victory, the Bills' win over the Vikings and Minnesota's record will come into play. Similarly, the Bills could benefit from Oakland winning a few more games as they play later in the season. The better the Vikings' and Raiders' records, the better for the Bills.

Other games of significance

New Orleans Saints (3-4) vs. Carolina Panthers (3-4-1)
Arizona Cardinals (6-1) vs. Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
St. Louis Rams (2-5) vs. San Francisco 49ers (4-3)

Teams on bye: Atlanta Falcons (2-6), Buffalo Bills (5-3), Chicago Bears (3-5), Detroit Lions (6-2), Green Bay Packers (5-3), Tennessee Titans (2-6)

If everything goes their way this weekend, the Bills could be a just a half-game behind the Patriots for the AFC East lead and have the ability to control their own destiny in the division - and they would hold onto the sixth and final playoff spot thanks to tiebreakers over the Dolphins.