On Monday night in Detroit, the Buffalo Bills handed the New York Jets a 38-3 loss. In doing so, the Bills ended a two-game losing streak, moved back above .500 at 6-5, improved to 3-2 in the AFC East, and kept themselves in the thick of a very muddled AFC playoff race.
Here's the thing, though: even though they're still in it, the Bills are still just No. 11 overall in the AFC. Clearly, they have a lot of work to do if they're going to crack the top six within the next five weeks - and they'll need to start that process with a home win over the 7-4 Cleveland Browns this Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park.
Let's review the current AFC standings heading into Week 13. A clean dozen teams are all still in the hunt.
- New England (9-2): They have a three-game lead in the East with five to play. They're probably good to go.
- Denver (8-3): One game up on Kansas City in the West, and guess who they play on Sunday?
- Cincinnati (7-3-1): Thanks to a tie, they're the only team in the North that isn't 7-4.
- Indianapolis (7-4): They have a two-game lead on Houston, and Tennessee and Jacksonville are divisional doormats. They're probably good to go, too.
Wild Card leaders
- Kansas City (7-4): They're here because of all sorts of weird tie-breaker scenarios. They lost to Oakland, y'all. Also: get well soon, Eric Berry.
- San Diego (7-4): Again, they make the cut today because of weird tie-breakers that Matt could probably explain better than I can.
The rest of the field
- Baltimore (7-4): They've beaten both Cleveland and Pittsburgh, which helps in a crazy North division.
- Pittsburgh (7-4): It seems like every AFC team has a "they lost to them?!" game; Pittsburgh's is the Jets.
- Cleveland (7-4): Among a group in contention (along with Baltimore and Buffalo) currently at or under .500 in the conference.
- Miami (6-5): Split with the Bills, but currently ahead of them based on divisional win percentage (Miami is 2-1).
- Buffalo (6-5): Oh, what could have been.
- Houston (5-6): Sticking around despite a revolving door at quarterback.
Matt will have a post a bit later on this week outlining which teams you'll want to be rooting for heading into this coming weekend's games. (Hint: Denver, Baltimore, New Orleans, and the Jets would be particularly helpful victors this weekend. Buffalo, of course, needs to beat Cleveland, as well.)